Al-Qa’ida warns UK of plan to cripple aviation

AL-QA’IDA has warned Britain that it will continue to find ways to bypass its security and plans to ramp up attacks using passenger jets.

The terrorist network says it is training a new generation of bomb-makers and intends to target more commercial airliners, having successfully smuggled powerful explosives on board cargo planes. “The following phase would be for us to use . . . similar devices on civilian aircraft in Western countries,” the group’s Yemen-based offshoot says in the latest edition of its online propaganda magazine.

It also announced plans to downgrade its use of suicide bombers and step up plots to disrupt transatlantic trade.

Outlining what it calls “Operation Haemorrhage”, the group seeks to cause maximum economic damage. “Our objective is not maximum kill but to cause a haemorrhage in the aviation industry, an industry that is so vital for trade and transportation between the US and Europe.”

Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula says its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, a wanted Saudi militant who is the key suspect in the cargo bomb plot, “is safe and well . . . teaching a new batch of students the latest in bomb-making skills.”

AQAP claimed credit for the two unexploded bombs that came close to blowing up cargo planes bound for the US last month. The group said it was happy to use a tactic “that does not require us to put a mujahed on board a plane”.

AQAP boasts that the operation involved a team of “less than six brothers”, took just three months to plan and cost only $US4200 ($4355). The price included two Nokia mobile phones, two Hewlett-Packard printers and the cost of shipping. The bombs evaded security checks because they used PETN, a powerful form of explosive that is organic and difficult for airport scanners to detect. They were hidden in printer toner cartridges.

Britain banned toner cartridges from hand luggage in the wake of the plot. In a scathing response last week, AQAP said: “Who is the genius who came up with this suggestion? Do you think that we have nothing to send but printers?”

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