LONDON – MI5, Britain’s national security service is checking all of the nation’s universities and technical schools for Middle Eastern students with a qualification in thermo-chemistry – the science that includes creating liquid explosives.
A senior intelligence officer confirms that the intelligence service fears a student has been recruited by al-Qaida to prepare the explosives at the center of the biggest terrorist alert in Britain. The hunt also extends to all firms in the chemical industry.
Liquid oxygen explosives, or LOX, are considered to have been the weapon of choice for the alleged planned attacks on transatlantic planes.
One possibility being urgently investigated by scientists at Britain’s chemical/biological defense establishment at Porton Down is that the terrorists could have perfected not only hiding the explosive in carbonated drink bottles, but also by placing it in perfume bottles or after-shave sprays.
“The pipe which allows the liquid to be dispersed through the spray nozzle acts as the timer. It would be activated by pressing the spray nozzle to cause an instant explosion,” a Porton Down source told WorldNetDaily.
He confirmed a perfume bottle sold in any downtown store could be filled with liquid explosive sufficient to blow a sizeable hole in the side of a jumbo jet.
“Inside the cabin the explosion would create an air vacuum, killing those in the vicinity by crushing their lungs. Other passengers would be sucked out of the hole. The impact of the explosion would also cause the aircraft to break up,” explained the source.
Known as the “Lockerbie Effect,” for the terrorist bomb that destroyed a PanAm flight over the Scottish town, it has been studied by explosive experts, who have concluded liquid explosive would achieve the same carnage.
However, they have challenged the “only essentials in a plastic bag” order for all passengers, pointing out that stopping a mother from taking on board her baby’s bottle before she drinks a quantity in front of an airport security officer is “plain silly. If the bottle contained liquid explosive, it would curdle the milk and make it obvious to anyone,” an MI5 source said.
It has emerged that the original tip which led to last week’s arrests came from two Pakistani terror suspects – Zeeshan Hyder Siddiqui and Naeem Noor Khan. On MI5 computers they are listed as members of a Pakistani group affiliated with al-Qaida, the Movement for Islamic Jihad. Both fled from London after last year’s July bombings, but were arrested in Lahore by Pakistani security officers.
MI5 officers interrogated the men in a high-security prison in Islamabad. They insisted they had no part to play in the London bombings and revealed they had been ordered to take place in an aborted attack on London’s subway system. Both also admitted being close associates of two other young British Muslims who had launched a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv nightclub two years ago.
An MI5 document reveals the pair had also provided details about the extent of the al-Qaida network throughout Britain’s Muslim community.
“The names included some of those who have now been arrested,” said an intelligence source.
Gordon Thomas specialises in international intelligence matters and is the author of “Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad.”