“We tested it, on a real airplane, on the ground, pressurized. To say the least, it destroyed the airplane.” – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly
(It later emerged that the intelligence had come from Israel, though it was originally believed it had been gleaned through human sources on the ground rather than hacking operations.)
ISIS have issued a warning to British holiday makers travelling to Spain. Why? I don’t know either… I doubt very much anyone in the intelligence world gives two fucks about an army of fat, stupid, pissed up, STD ridden animals…
One way ‘ISIS’ (whomever they may be) have been looking to carry out a large scale terror attack is the ‘Mother Of Satan’ laptop bomb on a commercial plane. Invisible to most modern airport security, able to blow a hole in side of a commercial plane…
Not that it would be so devastating on plane full of British holiday makers… four or five holiday makers would be sucked out before an obese and severely overweight 25 stone British slapper blocks up the hole with her fat arse, the cabin would regain pressure and the pilot would thus be able to land safely! :D… … she’d probably be wearing Union Jack knickers! 😀
Everyone would clap and cheer (like they do anyway)… then go and get absolutely pissed out their minds and make idiots out of themselves(like they would do anyway)… ISIS fail!
Israeli intelligence discovered ISIS plans for laptop bomb
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Israeli government spies hacked into the operations of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) bombmakers to discover they were developing a laptop computer bomb to blow up a commercial aircraft, The New York Times reported on Monday (June 12).
The Times said the work by Israeli cyber operators was a rare success of Western intelligence against the constantly evolving, encryption-protected and social media-driven cyber operations of the extremist group.
It said the Israeli hackers penetrated the small Syria-based cell of bombmakers months ago, an effort that led to the March 21 ban on carry-on laptops and other electronics larger than cellphones on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.
The Israeli cyber penetration was the source of US information about how the group was developing explosives that couldn’t be detected by standard screening because they looked identical to laptop batteries, according to the Times.
The intelligence was so good that it also included the detonation method for the bombs, the Times said, citing two US officials familiar with the operation.
Following the US laptop ban, Britain announced a similar prohibition for flights originating from six countries.
Israel’s contribution to the intelligence on the laptop bombs became public after President Donald Trump revealed details of the plot to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a May 10 White House meeting.
Trump’s disclosure “infuriated” Israeli officials, according to the Times.
“Laptop Bombs” Are Remarkably Low Tech
It’s not that complicated.
In nearly every airport security checkpoint in the world, passengers traveling with laptops or large electronics must remove them from their bags and place them in a separate screening container. While the practice may be inconvenient for business travelers, it’s for a good reason: the complicated electronics of a laptop are a tempting place for terrorists to hide improvised explosive devices.
Last week, Donald Trump revealed to a group of Russian diplomats classified information possibly pertaining to an ISIS plot to use laptops to smuggle explosives aboard planes. Trump claims the information, which was “code word” classified by U.S. intelligence services, was “wholly appropriate” to share with the Russians to help both world powers combat the unspecified threat, which was reported to be the impetus behind the ban on large electronics on many foreign airlines entering the U.S.
The latest example of a laptop-borne IED is the 2016 bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159. Flight 159 was flying from Mogadishu, Somali, to Djibouti when a bomber detonated an IED concealed in a laptop on board, blowing a hole in the plane. The plane stayed in the air and landed safely — the bomber was sucked out of the hole he created and killed, and two passengers were injured.
CNN reported in April of this year that intelligence officials were becoming more concerned with the possibility of sophisticated bombs making it through airport security, potentially concealed in large electronics, which it claims was a deciding factor in President Trump’s decision to push forward on a ban on electronics in U.S.-bound flights for several major airlines. But explosives and security experts say the main fault in the Daallo Airlines bombing was human error — the bomb itself should have been spotted, but was not.
In early April, the New York Times Magazine obtained an X-ray image of the Daallo laptop bomb from an FBI report on the incident. The explosive charge was hidden inside the slot where a laptop’s DVD player would usually go, connected to a nine-volt battery with some short wires.
@CruickshankPaul yes, this is a strong read. but it cites report claiming device in Daallo bombing was “sophisticated.” it wasn’t. it was a very basic IED. pic.twitter.com/TxRUe2woEf— C.J. Chivers (@cjchivers) May 11, 2017
John Ismay, a former Explosives Ordnance Disposal officer for the U.S. Navy, said that the bomb should have been an easy spot for security personnel.
@cjchivers @robynkrielCNN @CruickshankPaul @Drjohnhorgan 2/ and wires present where everything is a printed circuit board. I mean, I’m rusty, but I hope I wouldn’t be rusty enough to miss that— John Ismay (@johnismay) May 11, 2017
Ismay told Inverse in a separate interview that he wasn’t aware of any new technique for concealing bombs in personal electronics. “For a well-trained bomb tech or baggage trainer it shouldn’t be that hard to spot, unless there’s something we don’t know,” he says.
Robert Liscouski and William McGann, two aviation security experts, came to a similar conclusion in an analysis published in CTC Sentinel shortly after the Daallo bombing:
The largest vulnerability facing the global aviation sector today is not master bomb makers beating current detection systems, but rather it comes from two sources. The first is the many airports in the developing world that lag in deploying state-of-the-art machines, rigorous training, and best practices. The second is the opportunity for terrorist groups to recruit airport insiders in both the developed and developing worlds who either are likely to receive less scrutiny from fellow airport staff at security checkpoints than passengers or can evade screening altogether.
The upshot of all this is that laptop bombs themselves aren’t the issue. There’s nothing, at the moment, that distinguishes a laptop bomb from any other IED. Terrorists have smuggled bombs onto planes inside their shoes and underwear before, but those are still permitted on flights. The danger, as C.J. Chivers noted in the NYT Magazine piece, could change if terrorist groups do have an advanced screening setup to practice on, but without knowing that, it’s difficult to say if the threat from laptop-borne IEDs is any greater than another kind of bomb. To find that out, you could probably ask Trump.
Just How Dangerous Are Laptop Bombs on Planes?
The U.S. just lifted a ban on laptops flying out of ten Middle Eastern airports. Here’s why.
By David Hambling Jul 21, 2017
The U.S. just lifted its ban on electronic devices on flights from ten Middle East airports. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly revealed on Wednesday that the ban had been instituted after the DHS tested a small explosive device inside a pressurized plane, but that new security measures were adequate to handle the threat. Although the U.S. is confident, the U.K’s ban remains in place, and a new paper from security thinktank Trends sheds light on how laptops can be a potential danger.
The biggest issue, detailed in the study, is that ISIS is particularly tech-savvy and has shown an unusual willingness to turn consumer tech into weapons, like grenade-dropping drones and tele-operated machine guns. Specifically dangerous in air travel, ISIS also constantly develops new types of bombs to slip through protective measures. One example is TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide), known as “the mother of Satan” because it is so prone to detonation. Although this is being solved with new technology, terrorists will keep probing for the next one. Of course, it’s tough to know exactly what security teams can’t detect. But after ISIS took Mosul airport in June 2014, they could’ve used its X-ray machines to test just how undetectable their various weapons are.
“We tested it, on a real airplane, on the ground, pressurized. To say the least, it destroyed the airplane.”
In the world of gadgets, laptops bombs are a particularly nefarious possibility. Because they only have to look like a computer when turned on briefly, functionality and battery life can be drastically cut, leaving plenty of room for deadlier features.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum this week, Secretary Kelly said he first thought the laptop threat wasn’t that big of a deal before understanding its real potential.
Having been around explosives all my life, the device as described to me had an amount of explosive on it that I just did not believe could destroy an airplane in flight. So, we tested it, on a real airplane, on the ground, pressurized. To say the least, it destroyed the airplane.
But Robert Bunker, author of the latest paper detailing the deadly threat of a laptop explosive, was not so surprised.
“From an aviation security perspective this is not new information,” Bunker told Popular Mechanics. “What we have is a distinguished Marine Corps general with no institutional knowledge of these tests who has recently been educated on this threat.”
Bunker mentions an incident in February last year when an Al Shabab terrorist detonated a laptop bomb on a flight from Mogadishu. The explosion blew a hole in the side of the plane, killing only the bomber. If the plane had been at cruising altitude, there could have been many more casualties, and the plane itself might have been lost.
The other reason why carry-on laptops specifically can be a danger is that a small bomb can only do severe damage when it’s close enough to the planes exterior to blow an actual hole in it. If it’s buried among suitcases, the blast will be muffled and the damage minimized. Bunker adds that it’s just easier to push a button than detonate something remotely.
“Typically terrorist detonators are improvised, so they don’t work 100 percent of the time,” says Bunker. “If a malfunction occurs on a detonator in the hold, you don’t get a second chance.” Related Stories
The DHS says it had intelligence that there was a plan to use such a laptop bomb, but now the ban has been lifted. So what changed? It’s unlikely the modification was anything technological.
“It appears rather a more stringent and layered screening defense is being implemented at the last point of departure airports into the U.S.,” says Bunker, mentioning that the DHS couldn’t have deployed new technology so quickly. “This would likely be combined with a more systematic focus during screening on likely spaces and volumes in which explosives can be hidden in larger-than-smartphone devices.”
Even in small packages, bombs can be deadly at high altitudes, but for now, laptops are once again clear for travel.
Detecting Laptop IEDs
Published on 22/03/17 in News
Late on Monday 20th March 2017, in response to a terrorism threat, US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sent a confidential email / circular. It was sent to 9 airlines serving 10 foreign airports in 8 Middle Eastern and North African countries. Recipients of the TSA instruction have been given 96 hours to comply: Beginning 0700hrs GMT Tuesday 21st March 2017 – the instruction has no end date!
Passengers traveling by air to the US from named airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE on Royal Jordan, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Madoc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways, will no longer be allowed to carry any electrical devices larger than a cellular / mobile phone into the cabin of an aircraft. Those traveling with such devices will be required to store them as in checked-in hold baggage.
Large electrical items currently being banned from the cabin by the airlines include; laptops, tablets, iPads, Kindles, cameras, DVD players and game players. Cellular / mobile phones and required medical devices are exempt.
The US authorities are believed to be concerned about a possible attempt to down a plane by smuggling explosives on board in the battery compartment of an electronic device. Early indications suggest this threat which forced the TSA of the US to issue the communication is from a laptop IED. Further information from the airline industry corroborates this.
The terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two attacks against aviation using laptop devices:
1 . On Tuesday 2nd February 2016 a laptop IED exploded on board a Daallo Airlines aircraft shortly after departure from Mogadishu Airport, Somalia. It is believed the aircraft’s delayed take-off saved the aircraft as it was still in the climb and able to withstand the blast. Had it been at altitude it would undoubtedly and have been catastrophic? Exploding prematurely, it blew a large hole in the side of the aircraft leading to the death of a person suspected to be the bomber. CCTV provided evidence of the laptop being handed over after screening.
2 . On Monday 7th March 2016 another laptop IED exploded prematurely, this time at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu Airport, Somalia, prior to flight. Images have been released of this laptop and Redline has it on good authority the IED contained 250 grams of military grade TNT and a commercial detonator.
Why train to detect an IED which appears to be geographically limited to a handful of countries?
The fact they have used this type of device twice in the past year coupled with the recent TSA instruction indicates it is not isolated and technical details have spread throughout the different terrorist organisations making the threat widespread.
With al Qaeda pushing the lone wolves to operate in Jihad isolation, the copycat threat is as much of a risk anywhere on the globe.
Laptop IEDs on ALERT2
Early on Tuesday 21st March 2017 and within hours of the TSA instruction being released, Redline Assured Security began to build Laptop IEDs following information regarding this most recent threat and others similar to those used in the past.
Late on Tuesday 21st March 2017, Redline will have imaged the devices using an x-ray machine in Cabin bags, Hold luggage and Cargo boxes in lots of different positions and with different levels of clutter. The x-ray images which include all enhancements will be uploaded to Redline’s multilingual ALERT2 x-ray threat image recognition training system in Hold, Cabin and Cargo.
Within 24 hours of the TSA instruction a Laptop IED training program will be ready and Redline Assured Security clients will be training to detect this threat and the copycat threats which may surface as a direct result of the publicity.
Science Takes on the Mother of Satan
Worldpress.org contributing editor
Tel Aviv, Israel
February 21, 2005
Ehud Keinan, a chemistry professor at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, faced airport security at its most vigilant when he flew into Baltimore/ Washington International just three weeks after the 9/11 tragedy. Personnel rummaged through Keinan’s luggage; had him turn on his laptop to make sure it was really a computer, and even confiscated his nail clippers. Yet a vial holding two grams of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), an improvised plastic explosive, went completely undetected.
First employed by Palestinian bomb makers, the highly unstable TATP — also known as the “Mother of Satan” — is difficult to detect by dogs and conventional hi-tech methods, such as nuclear quadrupole resonance. If the mild-mannered scientist had been a terrorist, and if he had whipped up a larger batch of TATP, he could have downed his connecting flight to Los Angeles, killing hundreds of passengers. Fortunately, Keinan has devoted many years of research to combating such threats.
At the McDonald’s in the terminal, the professor poured the white explosive powder on a table, and, as oblivious patrons lunched on Happy Meals, he demonstrated for an American government official a working prototype of his pen-shaped Peroxide Explosive Tester (PET). Three and a half years later, PET is ready for use by police and security agents; all Keinan needs now is a company to manufacture the device.
Though a former infantry officer and Yom Kippur War veteran, bomb detection technology has never held much interest for Keinan, who is now dean of chemistry at the Technion. “Most of my research has nothing to with explosives,” he says. “I work on drug discovery to treat asthma, cancer and ventricular fibrillation [an electrical disorder in the heart].”
Another passion is biomolecular computing, an interdisciplinary field of science emerging in 1994 which views biological systems like a PC — composed of hardware, software, input and output, except all four components are made of molecules instead of electrons. “It sounds like science fiction,” says Keinan, “but my dream is to make a dynamo of one molecule.”
Nevertheless, in 1987, the Technion professor got an urgent, midnight call from Yitzhak Kirson, now deceased, who was then chief chemist for the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Kirson knew Keinan from their days at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, and trusted that, if called upon by his country, he would not refuse. The Shin Bet lab official proceeded to tell him of a new, worrisome explosive in the hands of Palestinian militants.
First discovered in 1980 in Hebron, TATP is made by mixing hydrogen peroxide, which can be bought in disinfectant form at the neighborhood pharmacy, and acetone, commonly found in paint thinners. The compound is helped along by an acid catalyst. “The liquid from your car battery or even lemon juice will do the trick,” notes Keinan. The easy recipe is not lost on the bomb makers: In just one raid in 1998, Palestinian Authority security personnel uncovered 800 kilograms of TATP in a Nablus garage.
However, Tal Hanan, security expert and C.E.O. of Demoman International Ltd., notes that TATP is hardly military grade. An unlucky tap or nearby cigarette can set it off, leading to fatal “work accidents” among terrorists and explosive ordinance disposal officers alike. Outside of Israel and the territories, the peroxide-based explosive is used — if at all — only as a detonator, and not the main charge, like in the hollowed out heel of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.
Indeed, Ivan Oelrich, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Strategic Security Project, wonders if pure TATP’s relative rarity is the only reason why security missed Keinan’s vial at the airport. If operating personnel are trained to look for it, existing portable technologies — such as ion mobility spectrometry, which identifies an explosive by its molecular mass, and nuclear quadrupole resonance, which looks for signature radio frequencies — should theoretically be able to pick up TATP, contend advocates.
“There are commercial detectors out there, but they have to pick up eight, very different types of explosives,” says Yehuda Zeiri, a chemist at Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University who has worked with Keinan. “The question is one of sensitivity. How good are these devices at picking up TATP?” (As for dogs, they can be trained to pick up the scent of acetone in TATP, but in an urban environment, the animals can be distracted by household items that contain the chemical, says Hanan.)
For seven years, since the time Kirson first called him, Keinan volunteered his time to finding a cheaper and faster way to identify TATP than shipping off suspected material to the lab for analysis. Then, in the mid-1990’s, the Technical Support Working Group (T.S.W.G.), an umbrella organization comprised of 80 different United States agencies, including the F.B.I., C.I.A., and Federal Aviation Authority, made a welcome contribution of $100,000 to his research.
“The Clinton Administration wanted to help Israel deal with the increasing threat of suicide bombers,” notes Keinan.
Finally, in 2001, he created the first prototype of his Peroxide Explosive Tester, and just last month, he got an American patent on the third prototype. The device looks like an oversized pen with three levers at one end and a removable rubber cap at the other. The cap has a sticky surface designed to collect material; the levers release three solutions that wash over the cap when it is re-attached to the PET.
“The first solution is an acid that breaks down TATP into acetone and hydrogen peroxide,” explains Keinan. “The second contains a pigment that turns green when oxidized, and the third solution contains an enzyme that, when exposed to hydrogen peroxide, catalyzes oxidation in the pigment.”
The idea came from chemical immunology, says Keinan. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) uses hydrogen peroxide and pigment reactions to detect antibodies that are chemically bound to a specific enzyme.
PET is meant to be a cheap, disposable device. Keinan predicts that it will only cost $10 to $15, and once on the market, it will soon find its way into the pouch of every police officer or agent who deals with explosives: “We’re taking about hundreds of thousands of kits in the U.S. alone.”
The device already has some professional enthusiasts.
“A police officer reporting to an unidentified package is not going to be carrying a $10,000 device,” says Jimmie Oxley, a chemist at the University of Rhode Island. “That’s what’s so exciting about having a relatively inexpensive kit.”
Keinan is now negotiating with three companies that want to produce PET. The next step is to produce, together with Ben-Gurion University’s Zeiri, a long-range TATP detector. The two scientists, along with Ronnie Kosloff and Joseph Almog of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published an academic paper in January on the peroxide explosive. It turns out that TATP does not release heat when it detonates but rapidly decomposes into a gas whose force of expansion is lethal.
While such a discovery has no direct impact on detection, Keinan notes that “TATP becomes less of a threat the more we know about it.”