Was London plot next 9/11?
10 August, 2006
LONDON: Its scope was ruthlessly ambitious; causing destruction officials say would have been "unimaginable." The alleged plot to take down several U.S.-bound planes with liquid explosives appears to be unlike anything the world has seen in years.
Counterterrorism officials said Thursday the London plot appears to bear the fingerprints of al-Qaida, and may have been "the Big One" they have been dreading since Sept. 11, 2001, particularly as the five-year anniversary of the carnage approaches.
More than 20 people have been jailed, terror threat levels have been raised to some of their highest levels, and hundreds of flights have been canceled worldwide.
"The scope or the magnitude of this attack is much larger than previous attacks," said Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Singapore`s Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies.
He added that everything known so far points to involvement by Osama bin Laden`s terror group.
"It is a classic al-Qaida tactic. It is a hallmark of al-Qaida to carry out coordinated, simultaneous attacks, and the aviation domain is certainly known to al-Qaida. They have obvious experience in working around that system and extensive knowledge of the aviation domain."
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff echoed those sentiments, saying the attack "was sophisticated, it had a lot of members and it was international in scope." He added that: "It was in some respects suggestive of an al Qaida plot," but cautioned that the investigation was still under way.
There have been dozens of thwarted plots around the world since the Sept. 11 attacks, and several that were murderously successful. Suicide bombers killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005, 58 in two attacks in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2003, and 202 in Bali in 2002. Islamic radicals killed 191 people in Madrid on Mar. 11, 2004, and then blew themselves up days later when police were closing in.