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Potentially sinister
October 29, 2010 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Security alerts have been declared at Airports in the US, UK and Middle East after the discovery of suspicious packages originating in Yemen. The packages, modified toner cartridges, have been described as "definitely not a complete bomb" but being "potentially sinister".
posted by Artw (291 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
They hate us for our ink cartridges.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 11:17 AM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


October Surp-

Ah, whatever.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:18 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Name 3 things that are not "potentially" sinister.
posted by DU at 11:20 AM on October 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


1) bubble solution (with miracle wand inside)
2) rescued hummingbirds
3) ....

Yeah, I got nothing.
posted by hippybear at 11:21 AM on October 29, 2010 [19 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if they are cartridges hacked in order to overcome digital rights management.

A picture of the "suspicious device" here.
posted by exogenous at 11:22 AM on October 29, 2010


Security alerts have been declared at Airports in the US,

The threat level has been changed from orange to black and white.
posted by three blind mice at 11:22 AM on October 29, 2010 [18 favorites]


Fuck, that is potentially sinister. Those cartridges are absurdly expensive.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:22 AM on October 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


3) ....

3) Fainting Goat Kittens
posted by axiom at 11:23 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every morning I wake up I'm potentially sinister.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:24 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Name 3 things that are not "potentially" sinister.

Kittys?
Puppies?
Bunnies?

I got nuthin' either.
posted by Floydd at 11:25 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


We just had a lock-down here at work because somebody screamed "Beware, I live!" and "I Hunger!"

It was potentially Sinistar.
posted by bondcliff at 11:25 AM on October 29, 2010 [61 favorites]


I've pretty much found ink cartridges sinister for years. And they are a complete bomb -- at least as far as customer satisfaction goes.

"Orlando bloomin' onion, you win the academy award -- for flavor!"
posted by weston at 11:26 AM on October 29, 2010


"Investigators were looking for a "possible nexus to terrorism," a U.S. official said."

Never use a word like "link" when you can use one that is fancier and not provably either correct or incorrect, like "nexus."
posted by rusty at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


I going to say the obvious here. No package from Yemen, should get on an airplane with out screening, ever. If packages from Yemen made it onto a domestic European, or Northern Hemispheric flight without screening, then what the hell are paying all that money for? Why are standing in lines at airports, why are we being x-rayed when we fly, if "they" are not screening packages from Yemen?

Why are we getting terrorist fake threats just before the mid-term elections? Who can it be now?
posted by Oyéah at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2010 [19 favorites]


I prefer infernal machine to 'sinister device'.
posted by empath at 11:29 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) bubble solution (with miracle wand inside)

Think again.

Rescued hummingbirds still OK!
posted by a young man in spats at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Who can it be now?!?
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2010


Screw you "Carlyle Group" types that make this stuff happen.

"While open to opportunities wherever they can be found, Carlyle focuses on sectors in which it has demonstrated expertise: aerospace & defense, automotive & transportation, consumer & retail, energy & power, financial services, healthcare, industrial, infrastructure, real estate, technology & business services and telecommunications & media

Surely they have no stake in the mid-term elections, one of the only business entities that made money on 9/11.
posted by Oyéah at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2010


Just today our Xerox machine emailed me and said it needed a Waste Toner Container. Maybe I shouldn't order one.
posted by morganannie at 11:33 AM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I have an empty colour toner cartridge right here on my desk, which I'd describe as definitely not a complete codpiece, but potentially fabulous.
posted by RokkitNite at 11:34 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The suspicious package from Yemen had wires and a circuit board, a law enforcement source said.

Wow. Just, wow. That's the standard, now? Wires and a circuit board? God help us if they ever stop to think what horrors lurk inside our consumer electronics.
posted by jedicus at 11:34 AM on October 29, 2010


So I imagine they'll use this as an excuse to ignore the BA boss' complaints about unnecessary security stuff.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mail it a rescued hummingbird instead. That would be OK.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2010


List of things that definitely not a complete bomb but are potentially sinister:

* Everything
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2010


Didn't Michael Jackson have a suspicious package?
posted by punkfloyd at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the suspicions were confirmed, regarding the Jackson package.
posted by Oyéah at 11:38 AM on October 29, 2010


Name 3 things that are not "potentially" sinister.

1. The shoe that goes on the right foot.
2. Right-handed scissors.
3. Right-handed golf clubs.

(As Jimi Hendrix demonstrated, however, a Fender Stratocaster is potentially sinister, even if it is a right-handed model.)
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on October 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


You guys suck at being vigilant.
posted by mazola at 11:39 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


They were on their way to the Rally to Restore Fear!
posted by procrastination at 11:42 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, I am totally being vigilant here!

Really.

This is my vigilant face.

>=| <------ Total Vigilance Face
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I bet this is probably an ad campaign for a new Cartoon Network show.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


No package from Yemen, should get on an airplane with out screening, ever.

Would that be the postal equivalent of racial profiling?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2010


Constant vigilance!
posted by fight or flight at 11:49 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


They were on their way to the Rally to Restore Fear!

Fear Restorationists
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:50 AM on October 29, 2010


Forget toner cartridges, who was the idiot that sent a volleyball by Federal Express?!?
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:51 AM on October 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


If it were enticing, I might look at a Yemeni package, might even say hello to the bearer. But, when it comes to shipping and receiving, Yemen exports what? Frankincense? I get the feeling they are out of water, really nasty to females, really amazing architects, but I don't think of Yemen as an exporter of anything much but idealism, of a devastating sort.
posted by Oyéah at 11:51 AM on October 29, 2010


Antonyms of sinister. My favorite: dextral.
posted by bearwife at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2010


Would that be the postal equivalent of racial profiling?

Hmm. Did you read the Yemen link?
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2010


But wait!

Yemen exports: crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas.

Liquefied Natural Gas, out of Yemen? That sounds nasty!

Put it all in a package, and I think we could get somewhere on Guinness Book of awful smells.
posted by Oyéah at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2010


> Rescued hummingbirds still OK!

But what if the rescued hummingbird has psychological problems and then tries to eat your eyes with its tiny beak eee eee eeeeeee *darkness*
posted by randomination at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


But what if the rescued hummingbird has psychological problems and then tries to eat your eyes with its tiny beak eee eee eeeeeee *darkness*

Yeah, right. He's totally on our side.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:57 AM on October 29, 2010


The last present Yemen sent
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on October 29, 2010


Yemen exports: crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas.

You forgot TERROR!!!!!!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:59 AM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I work for one of the big manufacturers of printers and, consequently, toner cartridges. All of our toner cartridges contain some electronics which monitor levels and usage and are targets for refillers to hack in order to make the cartridges reusable. The circuit board shown in exogenous' photo doesn't look like one of ours, it's considerably more complex (more parts = more cost), but since I'm not familiar with what other companies do I can't say definitively it's not a monitor. Despite the craptastic hack job, the board itself looks like a commercial item, surface mount electronics are a bear to do by hand.
posted by tommasz at 12:01 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a Suspect Device!
posted by vibrotronica at 12:02 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well if that cartridge really is potentially sinister, it should probably just go off and see a minister, he'll try in vain to take away the pain of being a hopeless unbeliever.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:03 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


A suspect device?
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's all just shades of gray, with some halftoning mixed in.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:05 PM on October 29, 2010




(on preview, damn you vibrtronica)
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, a 13 year old Yemeni prankster might think it would be funny to cobble a handful of old electronics and wires together, air mail them to Western countries, and watch them fall all over themselves in excitement and fear.
posted by Xoebe at 12:07 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Liquified natural gas, last I checked, is flammable and, while not exactly explosive, could be a bomb in the right conditions.

What's Yemen trying to pull here?
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:07 PM on October 29, 2010


Some Jewish religious leaders in Chicago were alerted Friday, said Linda Haase, spokeswoman for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

"We were notified about this earlier this morning," she said. "We are taking appropriate precautions and we are advising local synagogues to do the same."

Lucille Price, a receptionist at Anshe Emet Synagogue, said Chicago police made them aware of the reports and asked them to keep an eye out for suspicious packages among any deliveries that arrived Friday.

But congregation leaders at two prominent Chicago synagogues, Temple Sholom and Chicago Sinai Congregation, told CNN they were not made aware of any attempts to ship bombs or hazardous material to them.
posted by felix betachat at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the CNN chyron:

NORAD says its fighter jets are escorting a passenger plane identified as "an aircraft of interest" into JFK airport.
posted by felix betachat at 12:09 PM on October 29, 2010


an aircraft of interest

They're going to throw it in a holding cell for three days before releasing it without charges.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


...or a bored American Federal Security Contractor looking for a little something extra in the Christmas bobus this year.
posted by Xoebe at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2010


Yeah, I heard it was a "civilian aircraft of interest" with "no known threat aboard" but that is carrying a package from Yemen which will be landing at JFK in about twenty minutes.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2010


Goddamit, I put up with not being able to take more than a few tablespoons of liquid on an airplane but screw them if they think I'm going to fly without my HP 4M in my carryon.
posted by jamaro at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The suspicious package from Yemen had wires and a circuit board, a law enforcement source said.

Wow. Just, wow. That's the standard, now? Wires and a circuit board? God help us if they ever stop to think what horrors lurk inside our consumer electronics.


Perhaps it was a test? With the hopeful result of:

"Aha, they're not screening for electronics embedded in laser toner cartridges. Great! Let's move on to phase 2, and stuff some plastique in there!"

Or perhaps Yemen is just full of utterly fucking perverse electronics hobbyists: "Sure, brother, I'll send you that scratchbuilt cnc controller. Only, I don't have any project boxes handy, is is ok if I wedge the board into a laser toner cartridge? Because I just looooove ripping open the filthy things and putting my electronics in them. They're like, altoid tins, only cool"

I'd continue in this vein, but I have to mail a some electronics to a friend. Along with laser toner, he really likes marzipan and modeling clay, so I'll wedge some of that into the toner cartridge as well.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:12 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


bobus. A Christmas bobus. For Pete's sake. bonus
posted by Xoebe at 12:13 PM on October 29, 2010


[[Would that be the postal equivalent of racial profiling?]]

Hmm. Did you read the Yemen link?


It doesn't address the question of whether that would be the postal equivalent of racial profiling.

Either it is or it isn't. The circumstances reported in the article do not determine which.

If it isn't, say so. If it is, but you think it justified, say that.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2010


I said "Idealism of a devastating sort."

(You forgot TERROR!!!!!!)

I will not be made nervous by the overuse of a spin word that was used to rob the United States, as a part of the largest robbery in history.

So let these suspicious packages remind you to get out and vote. Unless you want even more suspicious goings on to continue, until we are all living behind dumpsters, and hoping for a day labor jobs.
posted by Oyéah at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2010


Fuckin true Scotsmen.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2010


... and women, of course. *Resumes headbanging to Suspect Device*
posted by joe lisboa at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2010


Ohhh must be one sexy airplane. NORAD escort.

Get out and vote, do not let antics take you away from the fact we must vote in mass numbers in the mid-term elections, pay attention to the important things.
posted by Oyéah at 12:19 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Snark all you'd like, folks. I guess I'm glad that packages from Yemen addressed to Chicago synagogues and containing wires and circuit boards are getting picked up en route. That doesn't feel like overhyped alarmism to me. It feels like the system working.
posted by felix betachat at 12:20 PM on October 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


Turns out the toner cartridge was just part of a home-made t-shirt worn by a Ms. Star Simpson.
posted by bondcliff at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Liquified natural gas, last I checked, is flammable and, while not exactly explosive, could be a bomb in the right conditions.

Technically it's not flammable while liquid.

Other things Yemen exports: Qat, really good honey
posted by atrazine at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2010


Would toner be a good cover for weaponized anthrax?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2010


If the cartridges actually were physically modified, then this probably was a genuine dry-run.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:23 PM on October 29, 2010


This is why the Illuminati put their bomb on the outside of the plane on 9/11. You don't see anyone screening the outside, do you?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or perhaps a false-flag.

But not nothing, in either case.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2010


this probably was a genuine dry-run.

Yeah, that's what I can't get my head around. If it were a dry run, why actually go to the trouble of mailing them to synagogues where they'd be sure to arouse alarm? Why not just mail them to a dummy address or a PO Box?

That suggests that there's more going on here than a dry run, I think.
posted by felix betachat at 12:25 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obama was apparently informed about this last night.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2010


Only, I don't have any project boxes handy, is is ok if I wedge the board into a laser toner cartridge? Because I just looooove ripping open the filthy things and putting my electronics in them.

The circuit board was attached to the toner cartridge, not put inside it.

Anyway, would someone with more hardware experience like to take a stab at describing the board? There's a small button cell battery and a couple of RF-shielded components. It doesn't look like a hobbyist piece. It's all surface mount stuff. The form factor makes me think of a cell phone, which would be considerably less justifiable and more suspicious than a generic "circuit board and wires."
posted by jedicus at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


CANON, HP, XEROX WARN GENERIC/REFURBISHED TONER CARTRIDGES COULD BE A TERRORIST BOMB!
posted by straight at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




(MPAA CHIMES IN TO REMIND THAT PIRACY ALSO = TERRORISM)
posted by straight at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes, but who's thinking about the children?
posted by ob at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live next-door to a synagogue, and I can report that there have been hovering helicopters, on and off, since late morning. This is unusual. The guys I spoke with earlier who were working at the synagogue were very nervous and saying they were considering shutting down for the afternoon, fearful of an attack.

I spoke with my friend who lives four miles north of me, and he reports the same -- helicopters hovering over the synagogue a block from him. Weird. Why would they be hovering? They're not labeled as news helicopters, which are the sort we usually see. These are unmarked. Dunno what they're up to.
posted by heyho at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Get out and vote, do not let antics take you away from the fact we must vote in mass numbers in the mid-term elections, pay attention to the important things.

Did that. Same result.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:34 PM on October 29, 2010


Sorry, I was still editing when I hit post -- I'm in Chicago, I should have said.
posted by heyho at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2010


This thread prompted me to think, "Hey, Dexter is sinister!" and I was inordinately pleased with my own cleverness until I realized that's probably what the writers were shooting for the whole time and it's taken me Netflixing it through season three to get the joke and now I feel stupid.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:37 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dry run?

I bet these "Yemeni" packages, were routed through Yemen, and originated somewhere else.

This is an election antic, this is foreign intervention in an American election. I am tired of this transparent crap.

The packages have already been debunked.

Anyone with some strong vested interests, can hire a couple helicopters. Create a media event, yup.
posted by Oyéah at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2010


why don't we just surrender to the fucking taliban? obama has the shit to pull it off and still maintain some dignity. put a tophat and tails on him and park his ass at a desk on an aircraft carrier, fly bin laden in and sign the fucking papers, agreeing to whatever silly-assed demands he makes. having to look at every goddam thing around us as "potentially sinister" for the rest of our fucking lives is just too, well, potentially sinister.
posted by kitchenrat at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2010


Yeah, that's what I can't get my head around. If it were a dry run, why actually go to the trouble of mailing them to synagogues where they'd be sure to arouse alarm? Why not just mail them to a dummy address or a PO Box?

Could it be that they wanted to see how far the packages could make it -- and where in the chain of travel would the devices be discovered: Yemen, Dubai, Frankfurt, London, New York, Chicago or at an eventual target (i.e. the synagoge/Jewish center)? Any news reports let the sender know where security might be weak.
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on October 29, 2010


Yemen exports: crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas.

The LNG is sinister to US taxpayers.

How soon all of you have forgotten the $25 million spent to deliver $9 thousand of it to the brave war fighters in Iraq.,
posted by rough ashlar at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2010


I think that's the idea, ericb. Here's what Shep Smith (I have no idea why I'm watching Fox News) just said about our security: "The system is so big now...The tentacles that have spread out over this, it's been impressive to watch."
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:43 PM on October 29, 2010


If the cartridges actually were physically modified, then this probably was a genuine dry-run.

Photos of the suspicious device -- "This is the device that triggered a security crackdown in the U.S. It was found by UK investigators on board a cargo plane Thursday. The wired device contained a circuit card and was covered in white powder, a source tells CNN."
posted by ericb at 12:44 PM on October 29, 2010


What's Yemen trying to pull here?

Errr, I suspect nothing.

What with Yemen being a land mass with a man-made border 'bout that land mass and all.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:44 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, why don't we just make a big hole in the ground where Bin Laden is currently sitting? Get out and vote.

Bin Laden is protected by the interests who profit from the defense shell game.
posted by Oyéah at 12:44 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most modern toners are smaller than 10 microns and anthrax spores are anywhere from 0.1 to 0.5 microns in size so I'm guessing you could hide a lot of spores in toner without anyone being able to tell by looking. Toner itself gets all over everything so it's likely to come in skin contact if it leaks out.
posted by tommasz at 12:45 PM on October 29, 2010


LNG tankers==non-nuclear, city-killing bombs.
posted by bonehead at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2010


I say "dry-run."
"Authorities were looking for about 13 other packages shipped from Yemen, a law enforcement source said. Some of them have been found and an investigation of those has not indicated they are a threat, the source said."*
The sender wants to see which packages get detected, where and when.
posted by ericb at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


>That suggests that there's more going on here than a dry run, I think.

Well...

1) low-investment terror;
2) step two of a dry-run sequence, with the aim of actually reaching the target;
3) false-flag.

All are possible.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2010


exogenous, jedicus: the thing in that photo is a stripped-down cell phone, I'm 99% sure. The two RF cans are pretty distinctive. The contacts on the far right would connect to the spring contacts from the speaker; the gray square would be under the display; you can even see what looks like the vibrate motor in the upper-left; the two high-density connectors presumably went to the keypad and LCD which have been removed. Maybe a Name That Ware expert could work out the exact model.

I'm generally skeptical about terror!device!alert!s but finding a cell phone wired to a toner cartridge seems suspicious enough to warrant investigation.
posted by hattifattener at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Does this mean I can now report the spamcalling office supply/toner scammers to Homeland Security? Because that would be seriously fucking rad.
posted by elizardbits at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, if the churches and synagogue didn't order this stuff from Yemen, there's obviously something pretty unusual going on.

The thing is, though, that terrorists probably realize there's all this paranoia floating around and that for $20 in parts they can cause a huge amount of resources to be wasted trying to figure out what's going on.
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2010


the postal equivalent of racial profiling.

That box is a little too brown.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


LNG tankers==non-nuclear, city-killing bombs.

please tell me == is the same thing as /=/ because they are not "city killing bombs" LNG doesn't explode, it burns.
posted by JPD at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2010


Oh come on! Like I said, so many windows broken with just one brick. Ohhh anthrax, from those clever Yemeni bio weapons experts, the election, the synagogues, the helicopters, the package shipped from elsewhere through Yemen, just in time to get Fox on the air talking terror, oh dang I said that word.

Get out and vote.

If we are going down it will be to big corporations, who service the defense industry. Make peace.
posted by Oyéah at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2010


Freakin' worthless media. If that picture actually had any resolution to it, this'd be something to get the Bunnie's Blog "Name That Ware" crowd on.

I've searched a bit on "0321.C" and "073E" but am not finding any board-level components that way. The shape looks kinda like it could be a cell phone PCB, but I can't tell scale, and if it were a cell phone board I'd think you'd want to carry on, let people think it had been delivered, and then see what you could tell from the information you get when it got called.

But overall the number of specifics being fed to CNN sure makes me think that if anyone credibly thought it was a dry run they're feeding a tremendous amount of information back to those who'd be doing said run.
posted by straw at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2010


I admit to watching cnn today, but only so I can listen to the English reporter say "underpants bomber" repeatedly.
posted by heyho at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


That doesn't feel like overhyped alarmism to me. It feels like the system working.

Say - hows that drug war on MJ working out?

That suggests that there's more going on here than a dry run, I think.

*ding*

All depends on where you hang out on the Internet....you can get all kinds of different versions of "why".

How about this one I've NOT seen: This happens all the time, and now someone has noticed.

It's all surface mount stuff. The form factor makes me think of a cell phone

1) Surface mount is common.
2) Really? A cell phone? That size? Come on. Take apart a damn cell phone - that isn't close. (the big pad off to the side - why? Crap antenna if you want the cell phone idea to stick.)
3) random crap attached to something else - screams "performance art" to go along with "security theater" to me.

The IC's are stamped with IDs. What do they map to?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2010


Oh maybe that is how secure communications get done. Wire the cell phone, with messages therein, that can be played or printed without the NSA reading them. Make it look like a toner cartridge, and control parts.
posted by Oyéah at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2010


I wouldn't be surprised if it's an attempt to get us to overwhelm ourselves checking out the wrong kind of suspicious packages. A distraction run in October using signature A, a real run during the holiday shipping season using signature B, while at the same time mailing out more decoys under signature A.
posted by nomisxid at 12:55 PM on October 29, 2010


LNG tankers==non-nuclear, city-killing bombs.

Tell me about it. Since I live on the waterfront here in Boston, I'd likely be instant 'toast.'

When the tankers pass through Boston Harbor it's amazing to see the security. "Coast Guard coordinates an armada of protection for each trip — a helicopter, police divers, marine patrol, environmental police, firefighting tugs, city police boats, Coast Guard vessels. The Tobin Bridge, a major commuter pass, is closed as the tankers move below its 135-foot-high span."

Many of the tankers come from Yemen -- and there has been conbtroversy even with the current security system.

Are natural gas ships ‘boat bombs’ for terror? -- "Boston at forefront of national trend for more LNG."
posted by ericb at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Christ, it's like an episode of Rubicon in here.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops, how'd I miss hattifattener's comments?

heyho, can you get pictures of those helicopters? It'd be interesting to find out who's paying to burn the fuel.
posted by straw at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010


Say - hows that drug war on MJ working out?

I'm sorry, I don't understand what this means.
posted by felix betachat at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010


the thing in that photo is a stripped-down cell phone, I'm 99% sure.

Care to put an actual wager on that?

(AKA how much ya willing to loose)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010


Isn't that a phone camera lens in the top right corner?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:59 PM on October 29, 2010


straw, I didn't think to take my camera out earlier. Sure, if/when they come back, I'll do just that. I haven't heard them in the past hour.
posted by heyho at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is an interesting idea, send a package to X, who regularly communicates privately, and include a device that automatically takes and sends an image, as soon as the package is opened. What a great idea.

I told you Fatima, you may not date that boy! Look what you made me do.
posted by Oyéah at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2010


I, too, would bet money on the PCB belonging to a candybar mobile phone.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:02 PM on October 29, 2010


please tell me == is the same thing as /=/ because they are not "city killing bombs" LNG doesn't explode, it burns.

True on the burning, but ...
"I believe the residents and politicians fully understand the risk of ignition is small, even minor. But if there were no risk, the Coast Guard would not be taking such extreme safety measures.

MIT Professor, LNG expert and former chair of MassPort, James Fay, explains the risk ... citing the USS Cole terrorist attack in 2000. 'There’s no doubt that with a big enough bomb you can blow a hole in the side of the vessel and the cargo will burn,' Fay said. 'It’s well understood that for the big fires we’re talking about that distances like half a mile or so, you can get second-degree burns to exposed skin in about 30 seconds.'

... Beyond public safety in such a densely populated area, there are also a significant quality-of-life issues for the surrounding North End/Charlestown/East Boston neighborhoods. When an LNG tanker comes through the harbor, public access in the harbor and on the waterfront is harshly impeded."
posted by ericb at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2010


Metafilter: a Christmas bobus.

Also: there has been conbtroversy.

Maybe the terrorists are attacking with killer Bs.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2010


The thing is, though, that terrorists probably realize there's all this paranoia floating around and that for $20 in parts they can cause a huge amount of resources to be wasted trying to figure out what's going on.

And here is the real deal.

If sending your old, used laserjet crap + some PC board to another nation means they spend a whole lotta money you are serving Bin Ladens's message of bankrupting the enemy buy their own hand.

The shape looks kinda like it could be a cell phone PCB,

Why the SPST switch in the upper right?

As for scale - you have the screw (#6 -#8 the funky hand cutout "washer" and the wires. As a cell phone - one big "cell phone"
posted by rough ashlar at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2010


For example

This isn't an exact match, but it is essentially the same form factor.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I, too, would bet money on the PCB belonging to a candybar mobile phone.

What phone would have a single throw single pole switch in the upper right?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:08 PM on October 29, 2010


LNG doesn't explode, it burns.

In point of fact, we don't know for certain either way. No one has ever detonated an LNG tanker. The science is still sufficiently unsettled that I would not want to put the price of a coffee on an LNG tanker fire being relatively safe. Weird things happen during accidents. BLEVE and VCE are both possible scenarios, despite what the oil companys' models say. Other models predict rather different results. There are good reasons to think this practice a major disaster waiting to happen.
posted by bonehead at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2010


"Cellphone" was my first thought as well. Or it could even be an industrial, embedded cellphone. (do a Google image search for GSM Module or CDMA Module)

But I also thought it might be a FPGA board or something like that. But "some kind of small computer" doesn't really answer the question. It could be anything, but it probably wasn't manufactured in Yemen.

Really? A cell phone? That size? Come on.

What size? It's impossible to tell how big the board actually is. But from the size of the components it looks like around the same size as a cell phone board.
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2010


This isn't an exact match,

The lead count on the QILP vs the DILP - that alone speaks volumes to the differences.

The lack of test pads - VS the phone's ample test pads.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:11 PM on October 29, 2010


heyho, identifying the type of helicopter would be more than CNN is giving us, but if you can grab N numbers that'd be cool too (sometimes you can read them but not manage to get a decent photo).

rough ashlar, that looks like a CCD camera to me. The surface mount SPST momentary contact switches I've got in my parts box have some more solid leads on the side. But, of course, we're looking at something where all the identifying information is sub-pixel.

bonehead, OMG! This is totally Mythbusters territory. Hell, I'd sign up for cable for that!
posted by straw at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2010


Whoever has won, look at the front page of the Huffington Post, The New York Times, LA Times.
posted by Oyéah at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2010


BTW -- the LNG tankers that come through Boston Harbor are huge.

For example:
"At 930 feet long, the Inigo Tapias is one of the largest ships to do business in the harbor. Stood on end, it would dwarf the city’s tallest building, the 750-foot John Hancock tower. And its cargo is certainly the most menacing.

Every few days, tankers like this one carry 33 million gallons of liquefied natural gas to a plant in Everett. They pass within a few hundred yards of downtown Boston and Logan Airport ..."
Photos: Inigo Tapias || John Hancock Tower.
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2010


LNG tankers==non-nuclear, city-killing bombs.

Yeah, no.

To get a boom, you need an oxidizer. Like this one and this one -- see all the Os in the molecules?

To get an LNG tanker to really blow up, you need to mix the fuel with air really fast over a wide area and get it to go boom all at once. To do that requires fairly big bomb made of a conventional explosive. And if you can smuggle a conventional explosive, why the fuck do you need to drive an entire tanker across the ocean? Just ship the bomb and blow that up.

And besides ... a real fuel-air bomb doesn't use natural gas. If the unlikely event that you really did manage to turn a tanker into a fuel-air bomb, it wouldn't go BOOM! It would go WHUFF! Try opening the valves for a few seconds on your propane barbecue before lighting it. Same thing on a much smaller scale. You'd probably kill quite a few people nearby, but it wouldn't be a city-killer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2010


Or it could even be an industrial, embedded cellphone. (do a Google image search for GSM Module or CDMA Module)

Look at the chips. Quad in line packages VS duals.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2010


What phone would have a single throw single pole switch in the upper right?

How do you know it's a switch and not a camera?
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on October 29, 2010


that looks like a CCD camera to me.

Missing parts of the CCD - perhaps. I can't say what it is. But look at the datapaths we can see - 32 ?

Not up to cell phone standards.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2010


The lead count on the QILP vs the DILP - that alone speaks volumes to the differences.

If Threeway Handshake's example is any indication, we'd be looking at the back, not the front of the phone.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 PM on October 29, 2010


How do you know it's a switch and not a camera?

Its a switch.

Can you show anyone making a camera in that size/form factor?

Here is a local vendor:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3060978
posted by rough ashlar at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2010


rough ashlar: I guess I'd put money on it, but it's not like we're ever going to get a definitive answer, is it? I don't see why you're skeptical. That looks exactly like the cell phone guts I've looked at. The antenna would be on the other side (facing away from the user's head when in use) and possibly molded into the case. The overall size is pretty easy to judge from some of the components which are standard sizes (the SOT23s at the top, eg).

I should say that just because it looks like a real cellphone doesn't mean this can't be a test, dry-run, false-flag or performance art. The questions we can't answer are: was the cellphone turned on? (Was there a battery somewhere in the package?) Where was that phone bought and who has tried calling or texting it? What was it wired to do, if anything? (The media narrative seems to be angling for explosive-dispersed anthrax, but are there any facts behind that theory?) Etc.

shakespeherian: It doesn't really look like a camera to me, but the photo's not clear. It kind of looks like an external antenna connector, but wouldn't that be the wrong place for one? My guess is it's a pushbutton, maybe the power button.
posted by hattifattener at 1:22 PM on October 29, 2010


Excuse me if this is a really stupid question, but: why would they produce this (sorta?) bomb in Yemen and mail it to the US? Why wouldn't they just... make it in the US?
posted by lullaby at 1:23 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama says bombs.
posted by felix betachat at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2010


"List of things that definitely not a complete bomb but are potentially sinister:

* Everything"

Akshully, list of things that do NOT fit that description:

*A complete bomb
posted by tigrrrlily at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2010


do photos of the contents of suspicious packages typically get released to the press?
posted by Hoopo at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2010


The way the screws have been insulated from the board (albeit crudely) keeps coming back to me. If it was a hoax device I wouldn't think you would bother with that step.
posted by Big_B at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2010


If Threeway Handshake's example is any indication

Even on his example - quad's exist on the backside.

Whoever has won, look at the front page of the Huffington Post, The New York Times, LA Times.

*ding*

before any of you get all nervous-pervous - this looks to be more created to expend energy VS actual threat. Security Theater .... not actual threat.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2010


Obama press conference.
2 packages, 1 dubai, 1 found at east midlands, originating in Yemen.

Containing Explosives, addressed to Jewish organizations/synogagues in Chicago.

Hoping my mom doesn't read any of this since My sisters wedding is at a synagogue in Dallas tomorrow.. And she's a paranoid one.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2010


A propane BLEVE from 2008 (video). This was only a few hundred kilograms and didn't kill a lot more people only because it happened in the pre-dawn. Bus shelters a kilometer away were blown to bits though.

LNG isn't propane, but nobody really knows how a tankerful of the stuff would react to a fire, particularly if sinking partially compressed and warmed the liquid gas enought to form an explosive cloud. Like I said, the research isn't there, but models do predict enough of a possibility to make one pause. The energy stored in one of those ships is mind-boggling and it is quite volatile.
posted by bonehead at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2010


Compare to this Nokia E60. And note the camera on this Nokia 6681. That 'switch' looks a lot more like that camera than the Radio Shack switch you linked.

Anyway, if it's not a phone or phone-like device, what is it? I doubt somebody made a custom surface mount PCB as performance art or a dry-run, so it was taken from something, but what?
posted by jedicus at 1:27 PM on October 29, 2010


I guess I'd put money on it,

If my putting cash on the barrelhead would lead to:

but it's not like we're ever going to get a definitive answer, is it?

that definitive answer, I'd do it.

I don't see why you're skeptical.

Because:
1) the data paths are too narrow
2) The chip sizes are too small
3) the last cell phone I took apart to fix had leads too small to see VS this one. This one II'd have a shot at re-soldering.

That looks exactly like the cell phone guts I've looked at.

And I can't dispute what you have personal experience. Mine differs.

I should say that just because it looks like a real cellphone doesn't mean this can't be a test, dry-run, false-flag or performance art.

I'd be willing to embrace the performance art - as in "how many millions can they waste chasing their tails." Its nice that, for the sake of the performance, we're all obligizing.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2010


Compare to this Nokia E60. And note the camera on this Nokia 6681.

And look at the data paths. Quad packages VS the dual in line packages on the suspected thing.

(not to mention - can you count the leads on the Nokia's?)
posted by rough ashlar at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2010


rough ashlar: What chips? Any chips on that side of the board are underneath the metal RF shields. What you think are the DIP chips are actually connectors commonly used for LCD displays.
posted by zsazsa at 1:43 PM on October 29, 2010


I doubt somebody made a custom surface mount PCB as performance art

Exactly. It's not a custom job. Its out of some mass produced thing.

And, sometime within the next month, someone will produce a picture of the thing it came out of.

(the crystal in the upper left makes me think it's "slow")
posted by rough ashlar at 1:44 PM on October 29, 2010


Example of said connectors, as used on various Nokia phones.
posted by zsazsa at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2010


... why would they produce this (sorta?) bomb in Yemen and mail it to the US? Why wouldn't they just... make it in the US?

Maybe, because it sends a message that ecven from overseas we can cause terror?

Ted Kaczynski (aka Unabomber) did so via his domestic mail-bombing spree for over 20 years.
posted by ericb at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2010


It would certainly represent a bit of a tactic change, and is interesting in that regard alone.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on October 29, 2010


From NPR- Two suspicious packages bound for the U.S. -- one in Dubai and the other in England -- "do apparently contain explosive material," President Obama said Friday.
posted by rollbiz at 1:51 PM on October 29, 2010


rough ashlar: What chips?

On the left side there are 2 surface mounted chips, dual side with some 20 mount points a side.

(and what I don't get is the metal background if these things are supposed to be toner carts.)

. What you think are the DIP chips are actually connectors commonly used for LCD displays.

Really?

Would give an answer to the lack of data lines.

Not like the photo on the website is high res or useful beyond showing something is jury-riged to something else.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:53 PM on October 29, 2010


It would certainly represent a bit of a tactic change, and is interesting in that regard alone.

I've been reading lately that some believe that we might soon see terrorist attacks akin to the 2008 Mumbai attack which involved a small terrorist cell that killed people with machine guns and held others hostage. Targets include European cities in Britain, France and Germany, as well as in U.S. cities.
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on October 29, 2010


Brennan at the press conference is saying that it was outside intelligence that led them to search for the bombs, that they found the first one in the UK and then second in Dubai, and that there may be other packages out there. And that this all happened within the last 24 hours.

These were intended to go off Monday morning, the day before the election.
posted by felix betachat at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2010


I know there was a message from Bin Laden released on the Friday before the 2004 election. Was there a statement released or terror threat announced in 2006 or 2008?
posted by vibrotronica at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2010


ericb - IIRC the recent flare up in Pakistan was related to planning for something like that, though no real details emerged.
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2010


It's not really the mail part I'm questioning, it's the mailing from Yemen. It seems like there's a much higher chance of a package being flagged as suspicious if it's being sent from the Arabian peninsula. Or is domestic mail regularly screened for this type of thing?
posted by lullaby at 2:01 PM on October 29, 2010


Its a switch. ... Can you show anyone making a camera in that size/form factor?

Only on all the phone circuit boards that have been posted here (you can see the camera on the far left – it looks just like a switch) or here (the camera is on the upper right corner) or this one with a camera in the upper left corner. They all look like the on the upper right corner of the "sinister device"
Even on his example - quad's exist on the backside.
Also dude, you are not really making all that much sense here. It obviously could be a phone and probably is.


----

Also Explosives were found on another plane perhaps these were just decoys.
posted by delmoi at 2:02 PM on October 29, 2010


It seems like there's a much higher chance of a package being flagged as suspicious if it's being sent from the Arabian peninsula.

John Brennan said they knew what they were looking for based on outside intelligence. It wasn't any sort of normal flagging in the system that caught this.
posted by felix betachat at 2:02 PM on October 29, 2010


These were intended to go off Monday morning, the day before the election.

If accurate, there may be some symbolism involved. Why Chicago? Obama's hometown.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on October 29, 2010


On Tuesday: Vote Republican! Obama and Democrats are weak on international security and terrorism!
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on October 29, 2010


Interesting. I'm not near a tv, so I'm catching up slowly I guess.
posted by lullaby at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2010


I'll bet you dollars to donuts that one of the packages they'll find was addressed to KAM Isaiah Israel, the synagogue across the street from Obama's house.
posted by felix betachat at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2010


And why would a flight with a suspicious *package* (not a suspicious passenger) benefit from a fighter jet escort?
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:14 PM on October 29, 2010


It wouldn't. The fighter escort isn't to do something useful, it's to be seen doing something. It's theater.
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2010


And why would a flight with a suspicious *package* (not a suspicious passenger) benefit from a fighter jet escort?

Because there might have been an unknown passenger with a trigger for the package who intended to hijack it? That's my best guess.
posted by jedicus at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2010


LobsterMitten et al, another possible explanation for the escort aircraft is that should something happen to the flight you've got cameras up close to help in the forensics.

I tend to agree with Justinian's assessment, but forensics is hard too.
posted by straw at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2010


Name 3 things that are not "potentially" sinister.

1. magic 8 ball
2. dice
3. mice


I was going to say border collies but they do have that stealth thing going on and I see mine is holding a shiv. So there you go.
posted by stormpooper at 2:21 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


How accurate are UPS and FedEx on delivery times these days?
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on October 29, 2010


It does look vaguely like a 6680/1/2, but could be just about anything. If I still had my 6682, I'd take it apart and see, but alas I do not.

The amount of energy being expended on this "threat" seems far out of proportion, but that seems to always be the case.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 PM on October 29, 2010


FedEx has embargoed shipments from Yemen
posted by Carbolic at 2:24 PM on October 29, 2010


Maybe Anwar al-Awlaki just really hates Jon Stewart.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


In point of fact, we don't know for certain either way. No one has ever detonated an LNG tanker.

asavage, are you reading this? I know you like a good BLEVE. This would be the biggest, most expensive one, ever!
posted by loquacious at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Theater yeah, and I bet that pilot was flying manually, with all mutable systems shut down. I bet those fighters have some "stuff" that really dampens all sorts of signals inside an aircraft with a potential trigger on board.

With McDonalds owners threatening employees to vote a certain way to keep benefits and wages, and whatever else happens in the next 70 hours or so, I wouldn't be surprised at anything that happens with the potential to swing an election.

I hope the weather is good for the rally on Saturday. Please vote for sanity, and a return to building our nation.
posted by Oyéah at 2:33 PM on October 29, 2010


(and what I don't get is the metal background if these things are supposed to be toner carts.)

The Telegraph says the circuit board was attached to a printer, which makes much more sense. The toner cartridge with powder was in a different package. One theory is that they were meant to be combined.
posted by jedicus at 2:39 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


John Brenner said during the press conference that the synagogue near Obama's house in Chicago was not a target.
posted by ryanfou at 2:48 PM on October 29, 2010


See, the thing about a BLEVE is, the first word of that acronym is "boiling." As in, it's a process, not an event, to raise the temperature (and thus the pressure) of the container.

If you saw the Mythbusters episode with the propane tank, you also saw how long it took to bathe the tank in flames before it finally burst.

Moreover, the BLEVE doesn't even need to be filled with something flammable. It could be anything airtight filled with something that expands. You could have a BLEVE with a giant tank of water, or a BLEVE with a scuba tank full of air.

Finally ... the guys that own the oil tankers know all about BLEVEs and these things called "pressure relief valves." Again, if you saw the Mythbusters episode, you saw them deliberately don't-try-this-at-home disabling the pressure relief valve to cause the explosion to occur.

Don't fear the BLEVE.

Fear this. Fear this. Much easier to accomplish. And just as headline-grabbing. Which is the real point, after all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:56 PM on October 29, 2010




I think the reason for the fighter is primarily to shoot it down should it deviate from its flight plan. Also observation.
posted by rosswald at 3:10 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


ryoshu, that article is somewhat disturbing, but I liked this bit:


"Yes, but starting tomorrow, we're going to start searching your crotchal area" -- this is the word he used, "crotchal" -- and you're not going to like it."

"What am I not going to like?" I asked.

"We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance," he explained.

"Resistance?" I asked.

"Your testicles," he explained.

'That's funny," I said, "because 'The Resistance' is the actual name I've given to my testicles."

He answered, "Like 'The Situation,' that guy from `Jersey Shore?'"

Yes, exactly, I said. (I used to call my testicles "The Insurgency," but those assholes in Iraq ruined the term.)
posted by heyho at 3:16 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




Oh, man. The synagogue next door to me that I referenced earlier is now on cnn. Uhm... Crazy. And there's Mike, my UPS guy. I'm not afraid, but this is pretty damn weird nonetheless, I gotta say...
posted by heyho at 3:33 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like some people owe hattifattener money.
posted by Artw at 3:33 PM on October 29, 2010


ryoshu's link is hilarious. It makes me want to ask for patdowns from now on in airports, just for the prurient thrill. I wonder if I should try to achieve a semi- before going through the procedure just to see how the guy doing the searching would react.

"Do you want to go into a private room?" he asked.

"Are you asking me into a private room?" I said. He looked confused. I said, "No, here is fine."


I'm going to remember that response.
posted by hippybear at 3:35 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


And why would a flight with a suspicious *package* benefit from a fighter jet escort?
Because there might have been an unknown passenger


And the fighter jet was going to do exactly what about such?

Have everyone show their IDs from the windows and the top gun takes notes?

the TSA just started their crotch grabbing program

I believe The Blue opted to call it pre-flight fondling.

circuit board was attached to a printer, which makes much more sense.

Given the metal back - yes.

It does look vaguely like a 6680/1/2,
http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr50/benny79ben/PCBBlkNokia6680.jpg
The 6681/6682 seems to not have a camera in the "correct" place.
http://i399.photobucket.com/albums/pp80/greatman_puneet/6680.jpg
posted by rough ashlar at 3:52 PM on October 29, 2010


UPS: What can brown do for you?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:00 PM on October 29, 2010


Meanwhile, 25 people died of an actual bomb attack in Iraq today. I guess potential or unsuccessful bombs directed against 'us' is more interesting.

*Adjusts tinfoil hat* If I was the US, I'd mail myself some bombs too, after that whole wikieleaks thing.
posted by klue at 4:07 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't fear the BLEVE.

Los Alfaques Disaster
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:11 PM on October 29, 2010


Here's the service manual for a 6120 which has a front-facing camera and quad GSM.

Take a look at page 7. Flip the image 180°. Pretty close.

It's probably a Nokia of that era (2006-2008) and if it's brought over from abroad and needs to attach to our networks, it's gotta be quad band, right?
posted by tomierna at 4:16 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pretty close.

Other than the weird solder pad under the LCD - that does appear to be the critter.

Thanks. (now I no longer think its not a phone. Good thing I didn't commit to a cash payment on a bet.)

The antenna assembly still seems to be on it.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's probably a Nokia of that era (2006-2008) and if it's brought over from abroad and needs to attach to our networks, it's gotta be quad band, right?

Well, probably what you'd want to do, were you Mr. Terrorist, is buy a disposable cellphone in the US, send it over to Yemen, install it in your printer bomb, UPS it to your destination and then call it up to explode it at it's time of arrival.

Of course, from what little we know there are some aspects that don't make a lot of sense - this does not appear to be a functional bomb. This appears to be at most parts for a bomb. And a syringe. So is this some kind of make your-own-bomb kit? For who? Someone within Airport security at some point along the way? If so why would it be addressed to an apparent target? There's the dry run explanation of course, but this seems to be rather a lot of effort for a dry run.

Anyway you cut it, it's a pretty long way from nothing, and responding to it a pretty long way from "security theatre".
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


cjorgensen: "I bet this is probably an ad campaign for a new Cartoon Network show"

Starring Mohammed!
posted by symbioid at 4:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently this is the largest synagogue in the city. A half hour ago, the media guys outside filming the people entering for the evening service were telling the curious people, "This is the only synagogue we were told to film, so yeah, we believe it was one of the targets. We'll be here for the next couple hours." Great! Bravo, guys!

They didn't shut down today, but the kids were released early from daycare, I heard someone say.

I don't know if it was one of the intended targets, but if so, I'm damn glad they set up a "security theatre" to deal with it before anything ugly happened.

The helicopters I saw earlier had no visible numbers and were all black. I usually only see those when Obama's motorcade takes this route to get to O'Hare.

Hmm. Creepy.
posted by heyho at 4:46 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


the guys that own the oil tankers know all about BLEVEs and these things called "pressure relief valves."

So a colleague of mine was at the scene of a trail derailment, where two or three propane cars had gone off the tracks. He was standing with the incident commander, the local fire cheif, at the command post (the hood of the chief's truck). They were a kilometer from the tracks, at the time a little more than the recommended stand-off distance for a propane derailment. It was almighty cold and they were discussing the best way to wash down the rail cars, standard SOP, when they hear an all-mighty bang. Looking up from their papers, they were just in time to see a rail car sail over their heads. It landed in a field some distance away.

A rail tank car weigh tens of tonnes. The latest guide now has the stand off distance at 1600 m.
posted by bonehead at 4:48 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm beginning to suspect the primary meaning of "security theater" is now "I don't know what security theater means".
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Analysis: Scare highlights 'inept' terror attempt -- "Explosive materials found in U.K. and Dubai could have been a test to see the reaction."
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on October 29, 2010


Los Alfaques Disaster

From Wikipedia:
The blast and fireball (which was estimated at over 1000°F and left a 65'x5' crater) destroyed everything — cars, trailers and buildings — within a 300-metre radius.

Sounds impressive. 300 meters. About 1000 feet.

But compare it to a 500-pound bomb, which is actually only about 100 pounds of explosive that will easily fit in the trunk of a car. Load it up with nails and ball-bearings and ...

Complete (high order) detonation of high-explosives can generate pressures up to 700 tons per square inch and temperatures in the range of 3,000 to 4,500º prior to bomb case fragmentation. ... Fragmentation is caused by the break-up of the weapon casing upon detonation. Fragments of a bomb case can achieve velocities from 3,000 to 11,000 fps depending on the type of bomb (for example GP bomb fragments have velocities of 5,000 to 9,000 fps). Fragmentation is effective against troops, vehicles, aircraft and other soft targets. The fragmentation effects generated from the detonation of a high-explosive bomb have greater effective range than blast, usually up to approximately 3,000 feet regardless of bomb size.

But fuck all that. Mumbai was about a dozen idiots with AK-47s, grenades and a few baggies of cocaine.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:04 PM on October 29, 2010


the guys that own the oil tankers know all about BLEVEs and these things called "pressure relief valves."

That Los Alfaques page is good reading. The tanker truck lacked pressure relief valves because they were no longer mandatory.

When Halliburton and BP today bicker over who used unsafe concrete in the Gulf spill, I have less faith that they would take care of these and other basic safety features that would help prevent BLEVEs in an LNP facility.

If history is at all useful, people have a legitimate right to worry about LNP being trafficked through highly populated areas, and local authorities are smart to take all reasonable security measures to prevent disasters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2010


ArtW: How accurate are UPS and FedEx on delivery times these days?
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on October 29 [+] [!]


My UPS guy, George , was a couple of hours later than usual. Strangely, I've been expecting a laser printer, (Lexmark E369dn) and the tracking number had it scheduled for this evening, anyway.

The extra toner cartridge, I ordered got here yesterday. It's sitting in the living room...looking a bit sinister, I must say, and it's not even out of the box yet.

Anyhow, back to the to the fascinating cell phone forensics stuff...
posted by Skygazer at 5:57 PM on October 29, 2010


This is all reminding me like a variation on the two men who were arrested in Amsterdam at the end of August when they were discovered with strange odds and ends attached to cell phones:

Those items were an empty shampoo bottle with watches attached to it and an empty bottle of a stomach medicine with mobile phones attached, according to the U.S. law enforcement source, who has been briefed on the investigation. That has raised concern that the men may have been testing a future terrorist plot, the source said.

They'll keep searching for weaknesses, I guess, and eventually they'll hit on the jackpot combination. Who knows what hasn't been found. (I guess that would be an unknown known? Ewww...did I really just quote Donald Rumsfeld?)

What I'm truly afraid of is a Mumbai style attack on a soft target. It makes me wish I owned a gun.
posted by Skygazer at 6:06 PM on October 29, 2010


Didn't anyone tell them about Citizens United? If they wanted to influence the election all they had to do was donate to the Chamber of Commerce.
posted by ambulocetus at 6:34 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since there is basically no disclosure requirement for these groups, who is to say that Al Qaeda isn't trying to put the crazy tea oar people into power.
posted by humanfont at 6:55 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The helicopters I saw earlier had no visible numbers and were all black. I usually only see those when Obama's motorcade takes this route to get to O'Hare.

Heyho - you know Obama is in Chicago this weekend, right? The Secret Service helicopters have been doing runs up and back to O'Hare for the past few days.
posted by Mid at 7:05 PM on October 29, 2010


This CNN article quotes an unnamed "official" who says that the explosive in the packages is "likely" PETN. The article also confirms the cell phone aspect.

Very confusing - how would you expect to accurately detonate your cell-phone bomb by delivering it through UPS? The tracking info, while good, is not minute-to-minute precise. You could very easily end up detonating too early or too late to hit your target.

Also - if Tom Clancy was on the job, he would have had UPS send false "Package Delivered" notifications, intercepted the triggering phone calls, and then sent the Predator drones in to find the caller.
posted by Mid at 7:35 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rainbow Six would be ready at the cellphone towers with a special "scrambler disk".
posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on October 29, 2010


tomierna, as expected Bunnie's Blog has chosen that image as "Name That Ware" for October, right now the best match is a Nokia 6120c, I'd bet that in a few days they'll have the production run dates of the circuit board.
posted by straw at 8:15 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


rough ashlar: re the chips: I think you're looking at the things that I think are the high-density connectors (like these or these but not that exact connector). They're pretty common for connecting the circuitry on the board to the FPC cable that goes to the keypad or LCD.
posted by hattifattener at 8:18 PM on October 29, 2010


Those items were an empty shampoo bottle with watches attached to it and an empty bottle of a stomach medicine with mobile phones attached, according to the U.S. law enforcement source, who has been briefed on the investigation. That has raised concern that the men may have been testing a future terrorist plot, the source said.

I wonder what they're doing now that they have the TSA and DHS looking at OMG WATCHES.
posted by eriko at 8:51 PM on October 29, 2010


And the timing is perfect. Just before the elections.

OMG PEOPLE THEY HAVE TEH BOMBZ!!!!11!!!
posted by eriko at 8:53 PM on October 29, 2010


The Hip Muslim Moms thrown into chaos by Al Qaeda plot against the Washington Metro. Al Qaeda is finished. They broke up a playgroup and disrupted a girls night out. Bani was left with $100 in unused tickets for the imagination stage. I give them one week of watching the social media shit storm as every mommy blogger regardless of religious perspective or background launches a full attack on them. They will be begging the CIA to come and take them to Gitmo.
posted by humanfont at 8:57 PM on October 29, 2010


I'm beginning to suspect the primary meaning of "security theater" is now "I don't know what security theater means".

I'm rather sure "black" helicopters spending time hovering over religious buildings is far more "Security Theater" than it is hummingbird.

Its also asymmetric warfare - how much energy/money has been spent, emotional and otherwise in this matter? How much energy/money did the package mailers have to spend?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:42 PM on October 29, 2010


How would you expect to accurately detonate your cell-phone bomb by delivering it through UPS? The tracking info, while good, is not minute-to-minute precise. You could very easily end up detonating too early or too late to hit your target.

What is better from a PR standpoint - having something blow up in your truck or your customers' place?

Will this make cell phone jammers legal*

*for certain values of legal. You may need expensive permitting and you can't bring your wavebubble with you to parties....in case there is a package.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:50 PM on October 29, 2010




He added, "No UPS or DHL cargo packages heading to Chicago through Yemen took place in the last 48 hours as well."

Perhaps a contractor routing it to a UPS or DHL hub in Europe before coming to the U.S. is my guess.

This seems like a half-hearted attempt at international damage control, or this is the beginning of this being exposed as a false flag operation...
posted by Skygazer at 11:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


the last cell phone I took apart to fix had leads too small to see VS this one. This one II'd have a shot at re-soldering.

You probably didn't fish the last cell phone you took apart out of a trash heap in a third world country.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:09 AM on October 30, 2010




" ... Several U.S. officials said they were increasingly confident that al-Qaida's Yemen branch, the group behind the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas, was responsible.

A Yemeni security official said the new investigation involved about 26 suspected packages.

... Authorities were questioning cargo workers at the airport as well as employees of the local shipping companies contracted to work with FedEx and UPS, the official said.

Some had left Yemen and others were still in the country, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information.

Authorities were questioning cargo workers at the airport as well as employees of the local shipping companies contracted to work with FedEx and UPS, the official said.

In Dubai, where one of the two bombs was found in a FedEx shipment from Yemen, police said it contained PETN, a powerful industrial explosive, and bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

The white powder explosives were discovered in the ink cartridge of a computer printer, said a police statement carried by the official state news agency WAM.

'The parcel was prepared in a professional way where a closed electrical circuit was connected to a mobile phone SIM card hidden inside the printer' the statement said.

'This tactic carries the hallmarks of methods used previously by terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida,' it added.

The bomb also contained lead azide, which is used in detonators. Dubai police experts defused the device, the statement said.

The device was rigged to an electric circuit, and a mobile phone chip was hidden inside the printer, the statement said.

The New York Times reported that Representative Jane Harman, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, had said the package sent via the U.K. had a timer as a detonator.

... There are only a handful of international shipping locations in the impoverished Arab nation, but U.S. officials worried that record keeping would be sparse and investigators would have to rely more on intelligence sources to identify the would-be bombers.

... Intelligence officials were onto the suspected plot for days, officials said. The packages in England and Dubai were discovered after Saudi Arabian intelligence picked up information related to Yemen and passed it on to the U.S., two officials said.

Most of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.

U.S. intelligence officials warned last month that terrorists hoped to mail chemical and biological materials as part of an attack on the United States and other Western countries. The alert came in a Sept. 23 bulletin from the Homeland Security Department obtained by The Associated Press.

Since the failed Christmas bombing, Yemen has been a focus for U.S. counter-terrorism officials. Before that attack, the U.S. regarded al-Qaida's branch there as primarily a threat in the region, not to the United States.

Authorities believe about 300 al-Qaida members operate in Yemen." *
posted by ericb at 6:40 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And the timing is perfect. Just before the elections. ... OMG PEOPLE THEY HAVE TEH BOMBZ!!!!11!!!

Newsweek: Will terror threat affect the midterms?
posted by ericb at 6:43 AM on October 30, 2010


You probably didn't fish the last cell phone you took apart out of a trash heap in a third world country.

True - the screen went to hell and I wanted to see if it was going to be fixable.

Its heading to a trash heap soon enough.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2010


"John O. Brennan, the president’s top counterterrorism adviser, said that the packages containing explosives, which he compared in size to a 'breadbox,' were undergoing forensic analysis and that the inquiry was at an early stage. He said investigators did not yet know how the explosives were intended to be activated."*
posted by ericb at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2010


‘Tipoff’ From an M16 Agent
"The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper with close contacts in the security agencies, reported in its Saturday editions that the plot was discovered 'after a tipoff' to an MI6 agent 'responsible for Yemen.'

MI6 is the popular term for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, the country’s foreign intelligence agency. A spokesman at the Foreign Office, responsible for MI6, refused to comment on the report when he was reached by telephone on Saturday.

The careful wording of the Telegraph report suggested the MI6 official may have been based at Britain’s embassy in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

The embassy, like the American mission in Sanaa, has been the target of several terrorist attacks, including an ambush earlier this month in which a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a convoy of vehicles moving through rush-hour traffic in Sanaa that was carrying Britain’s deputy ambassador and four other diplomats. One of the diplomats was lightly injured, according to an official statement in London."
posted by ericb at 7:06 AM on October 30, 2010


"British Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed on Saturday that the other potentially deadly package, intercepted at a small airport near the city of Birmingham, 'did contain explosive material.' The British government’s emergency committee, which goes by name COBRA met yesterday, she said, and would reconvene today to review security measures."*
posted by ericb at 7:10 AM on October 30, 2010




The Washington Post: Terrorism unlikely to be voting issue.
posted by ericb at 7:18 AM on October 30, 2010


I'm rather sure "black" helicopters spending time hovering over religious buildings is far more "Security Theater" than it is hummingbird.

It should be pointed out that the "black helicopters" stuff is based on a single person's comment. I live in Chicago very near some of the temples at issue and saw no helicopters other than the usual Secret Service stuff for Obama, which I see every couple of months.
posted by Mid at 7:22 AM on October 30, 2010


it's times like this I'm glad AT&T and T-Mobile have such terrible coverage.
posted by Challahtronix at 7:31 AM on October 30, 2010


The British government’s emergency committee, which goes by name COBRA

As in who GI Joe fights?

It should be pointed out that the "black helicopters" stuff is based on a single person's comment.

To be fair, I did see reports of it elsewhere. But they are just reports and no real 3rd party verification.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:06 AM on October 30, 2010


Cool Papa Bell wrote: "See, the thing about a BLEVE is, the first word of that acronym is "boiling." As in, it's a process, not an event, to raise the temperature (and thus the pressure) of the container."

Well, in the case of a gas pressurized enough to condense into a liquid, you can actually either lower the pressure or increase the temperature. It'll boil either way because it LNG and LPG boil at -260F and -43F, respectively, at atmospheric pressure.

Not that I think that either of them would make a good weapon. It's just that much more terror porn.

Kid Charlemagne wrote: "You probably didn't fish the last cell phone you took apart out of a trash heap in a third world country."

Nokia makes 'em all with the same processes, they just put on more or less stuff. It's cheaper that way. Granted, one could probably find an old 2160 or something that was made 10 or 15 years ago and that would be drastically different, but that wouldn't be an older 3G phone with a front-facing camera. (and that wouldn't work here anyway, unless they made sure that it wasn't set to 3G only) Of course, you're not going to find that in a trash heap in a third world country, since it wouldn't work there.

Either the al Qaeda types are dumber than I've thus far been willing to believe or there's something fishy going on here.

Where did I put that 6682? It's got the same board as the 6680, which I think is the most likely candidate to match that picture, if it's a Nokia.
posted by wierdo at 8:25 AM on October 30, 2010


> Heyho - you know Obama is in Chicago this weekend, right? The Secret Service helicopters have been doing runs up and back to O'Hare for the past few days.

Yes, I know he's coming in today. I've never seen/heard his helicopters before he arrives, but I typically see/hear them as he leaves, and they always take the same path - up inner Lake Shore Drive, west on Addison, without hovering over that synagogue repeatedly, on and off, for hours. But who knows? The Secret Service rarely notify me beforehand of their weekend plans.

The media got bored and left, and I've heard nothing since yesterday evening. Good. I didn't like them on my lawn.
posted by heyho at 8:29 AM on October 30, 2010




The British government’s emergency committee, which goes by name COBRA met yesterday, she said, and would reconvene today to review security measures."*

Wait, what?
posted by COBRA! at 9:01 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


An aircraft? Seriously? Are these people not aware that cell phones don't work in flight? Or are they saying the cell phone wasn't the trigger device?

Moreover, I thought the blast-resistant cargo containers were required on all international flights, and had been since the mid 90s...
posted by wierdo at 9:11 AM on October 30, 2010


The problem is the black swan scenario. There are many safety systems built into these LNG tankers. Ship designers have to account for rouge waves, lightning strikes, shipboard fires, terrorism, etc. All of these should make the probability very low. I suspect a USS Cole style arrack would have a low probability of succeeding. Still according to published stuff, it seems that there is very limited real world testing at the scale we are talking about. BLEVEs have happened in rail cars fuel depots and tanker trucks. I think the terror threat is probably overstated, but the idea of a black swan event causing an accident seems much higher. The magic lighting storm that arc welds a value shut and ignites some shipboard fire that gets out of control.
posted by humanfont at 9:14 AM on October 30, 2010


Cargo plane bombs 'designed to explode mid-air'

Both devices, one discovered in the hold of a plane that landed at East Midlands airport after flying from Cologne, the other in a plane in Dubai, were described as "extremely professional" by intelligence officials.

One of the devices was linked to a mobile phone, while the other was attached to a timer. The Observer understands that the East Midlands device was so sophisticated an initial examination by forensics experts initially suggested it did not contain explosives.

"Even when it was examined, the sniffer dogs couldn't detect it," a security source said. "It was only when they [forensics experts] had a second look at it they realised what it was."

posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on October 30, 2010


And the contrary view...

“The problem, though, is that the appearance and set-up of the bombs look amateurish, which could indicate that Samir Khan, who created Inspire Magazine, and his band of inexperienced AQAP members were behind the attacks since Khan has no military, bomb training, or field experience,” says Aaron Zelin, an Al Qaeda researcher at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Though that might be outdated information.

Oh, and Samir Khan, like Anwar al-Awlaki (previously), is another Al Queda member whose spent time in the west and holds US citizenship before going to ground in Yemen.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2010


Just FYI: COBR(A)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:38 AM on October 30, 2010


Are these people not aware that cell phones don't work in flight?

"the Federal Aviation Administration has conducted studies indicating that despite the warnings from flight attendants, an average of one to four cell phone calls are made from commercial flights in the United States."
posted by weston at 10:59 AM on October 30, 2010


Al Jazeera says that Yemen has made an arrest in the bomb plot, a woman. They surrounded the house where she lives, and where the packages were sent from. Apparently the packages have been under surveillance for a few days.



It seems there has been a lot of cooperation from inside the Middle East, regarding this impending operation.
posted by Oyéah at 11:29 AM on October 30, 2010


weston wrote: ""the Federal Aviation Administration has conducted studies indicating that despite the warnings from flight attendants, an average of one to four cell phone calls are made from commercial flights in the United States.""

Yeah, you can make calls on GSM when you're traveling at less than about 200(ish) knots and 5000 feet or so. I've done it on a private plane. Don't tell the FCC. Higher than that and faster than that you're too far out of the pattern of the antennas to get a signal and faster than that both GSM and CDMA break down to some degree. (for different reasons)

The point being that unless you know exactly which aircraft your package is on and know its location, it would be a nontrivial problem to get a cell phone to ring on an aircraft. Now, once it's in the sorting center, it'll likely work and make the attached bomb go boom.
posted by wierdo at 11:40 AM on October 30, 2010


Al Jazeera says that Yemen has made an arrest in the bomb plot, a woman.

Yep.
"Yemeni authorities on Saturday arrested a woman thought to be involved in sending explosive packages headed to the United States and were searching for more suspects belived linked to al-Qaida, Yemeni security officials said.

The arrest came after authorities surrounded a house where she was hiding in the capital San'a, Reuters reported.

A security official told Reuters that authorities traced the woman through a telephone number she left with a cargo company.

Authorities were looking for a male accomplice, NBC News reported.

Yemeni officials told The Associated Press authorities were searching for a number of suspects believed to have used forged documents and ID cards that played a role in the plot that was thwarted Friday.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh earlier told reporters that the United States and the United Arab Emirates provided him with information that identified the woman as a suspect."
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2010


I think it is a miracle we caught these packages. I almost think we were tipped off just so we'd know the next time. Did they really find over 2 dozen devices. That indicates a whole manufacturing operation somewhere. Did the terrorists build these in a one time batch or are we going to see these every month until their operation is shut down.
posted by humanfont at 2:48 PM on October 30, 2010


I think that at this point only two devices have actually been found.
posted by ericb at 2:56 PM on October 30, 2010


Are these people not aware that cell phones don't work in flight?

Cell phones can act as alarm clocks / simple timers, as well. A phone call isn't the only way to activate the vibration motor.
posted by whatnotever at 3:44 PM on October 30, 2010


Bombs flew on passenger planes
posted by Artw at 7:51 AM on October 31, 2010


Yemeni lawyer: Female suspect being set up.
posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on October 31, 2010


Yemen frees student held over parcel bombs.
"Yemen on Sunday freed a woman held on suspicion of involvement in a plot to send parcel bombs on U.S.-bound planes after her arrest sparked protests by her fellow students.

'Another woman had used her name and ID. Authorities are looking for that woman,' the government official said.

.. Yemeni police late on Sunday released Hanan al Samawi, 22, a female computer engineering student suspected of mailing the packages. She was detained Saturday after her telephone number appeared on one of the packages.

Police said the release was conditional and she could still be taken in for further questioning."
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2010






You call it the TSA just started their crotch grabbing program for the people that don't want to have naked pictures taken before flying.

I call it, a good time.
posted by stormpooper at 8:35 AM on November 1, 2010




I call it, a good time.

Anybody tried doing the porn star routine while getting the full grope-down? "Oh YEAH! HARDER!"

I imagine it has to have been done, but I've yet to hear of it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2010


Cargo plane bomb plot: UK steps up security checks on airline passengers

Now we'll see the real security theatre.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on November 1, 2010


Schneier on Security: Cargo Security

Schneir seems to be in favour of no security at all on cargo, which, to be honest, seems fucking daft.
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on November 1, 2010




Video: The Cargo Chain Weak Links in Airline Security.
posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on November 1, 2010


I call it, a good time.

You know, throw a lady TSA agent in there for this delicate piece de la resistance hand search, and a lapdance, and flying just got really fun again!!

Either way, I'm tipping whenever a TSA officer who does this.*


*What?? Can you think of a more entertaining way to wind up in Guantanamo??
posted by Skygazer at 11:59 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scores die in bomb attacks on Baghdad Shia areas - If there's one thing Al Queda likes more than attacking the west it's killing lots and lots of Muslims.
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on November 2, 2010




Yemen bomb was 17 minutes from exploding -- "France's interior minister says authorities had a close call with one of two mail bombs."
posted by ericb at 6:15 AM on November 4, 2010


Video: Dry run may have preceded al-Qaida bomb plot -- "The FBI is investigating whether al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen sent test packages to the U.S. in September to see how long it would take."
posted by ericb at 6:20 AM on November 4, 2010


It's worth noting that the Yemeni cleric behind this is the very same "US Citizen" that everyone was up in arms over Obama targetting with assassination. I expect apologies from pissed off 'progressives' momentarily.
posted by empath at 6:26 AM on November 4, 2010


I really wouldn't hold your breath there.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2010


People who think the US government should not have the power to order extrajudicial killings/assassinations, period, and especially of US citizens, think so as a matter of general principle. Because there are bad things that can happen if we allow that policy. For example the killing of someone who's innocent. If we allow a policy under which the government can, based on secret evidence, kill a citizen of its choosing, then in what sense is the government subject to the citizens or the laws? Killing of citizens with no substantive checks is pretty much the ultimate power you can give the government.

Notice that this argument doesn't depend on the particular person you have in mind being innocent. People who believe it's a bad/unconstitutional policy recognize that some/many of the people targeted will be guilty, bad guys, plotters of terrible things, and yet they still think it's a bad policy. So no. I don't think this incident will change their minds.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who think the US government should not have the power to order extrajudicial killings/assassinations, period, and especially of US citizens

That last point, you'll note, being the only thing that makes him particularly different than Bin Laden.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2010


COBRA!: "The British government’s emergency committee, which goes by name COBRA met yesterday, she said, and would reconvene today to review security measures."*

Wait, what?
"

Wait til we found who the Vindow Viper is!
posted by symbioid at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath wrote: "It's worth noting that the Yemeni cleric behind this is the very same "US Citizen" that everyone was up in arms over Obama targetting with assassination. I expect apologies from pissed off 'progressives' momentarily."

You know, I for one am strongly conflicted on this. I sympathize with the argument that extrajudicial killing is wrong in all instances and going down that road makes is not worth the possible benefit to our collective safety. At the same time, why should the guy get mercy just because he's a US citizen? The treasonous bastard is trying to kill his own people, which is grounds for stripping him of his citizenship if we ever catch him.
posted by wierdo at 11:42 AM on November 4, 2010


which is grounds for stripping him of his citizenship if we ever catch him

I am almost certain a native-born American cannot have his citizenship removed from him. He could always renounce it on his own, I guess.
posted by lullaby at 12:08 PM on November 4, 2010


I am almost certain a native-born American cannot have his citizenship removed from him.

I've never heard of such punishment either, but treason is punishable by death.
posted by exogenous at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2010


Why Yemen is not a crisis...yet
posted by Artw at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2010


IIRC, treason is one of the few things that you can be stripped of your citizenship for. Unless perhaps it would make you stateless. Maybe that only applies to naturalized citizens.
posted by wierdo at 3:18 PM on November 4, 2010


It's worth noting that the Yemeni cleric behind this is the very same "US Citizen" that everyone was up in arms over Obama targetting with assassination. I expect apologies from pissed off 'progressives' momentarily.

Are you serious? If the police just started killing people suspected of murder instead of arresting them, you'd expect an apology from anyone who objected if they found out that one of the people killed was actually guilty?
posted by straight at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2010


And if you can't capture him, try him in absentia. The justice system isn't perfect, but I'd like you to at least prove to a court that he is behind it before you go and off him.
posted by straw at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]




Around the world, a race against time bombs in air -- "Details emerge of plot to blow up cargo planes inside the U.S."
posted by ericb at 1:21 PM on November 6, 2010


Saudis warned U.S. 3 weeks before cargo bomb attempt -- "Tip helped head off potentially devastating series of plane explosions."
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So do we not require the bomb-resistant cargo containers on aircraft in the US? I thought we did.
posted by wierdo at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2010


Wikipedia says that the amount of PETN used (300-400 grams) would handily blow a hole through metal thicker than the fuselage wall, so I'm doubting that a container would have been much help.
posted by Mid at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2010


Yeah ... from that Wikipedia article:
The toner cartridges were filled with the odorless military grade plastic explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a white powder that is one of the most powerful explosives known. The bomb found in England contained 400 grams (14 oz) of PETN, five times the amount needed to level a house. The one found in Dubai contained 300 grams (11 oz) of PETN.

By comparison, the bomb in the terrorist suspect's underwear in the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing contained only about 80 grams (3 oz) of PETN. Hans Michels, professor of safety engineering at University College London, said that just 6 grams (0.2 oz) of PETN—around 50 times less than was used—would be enough to blow a hole in a metal plate twice the thickness of an aircraft's skin."
Parcel Bombs Could Rip 50 Planes in Half.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2010


Mid wrote: "Wikipedia says that the amount of PETN used (300-400 grams) would handily blow a hole through metal thicker than the fuselage wall, so I'm doubting that a container would have been much help."

You should check out the videos of these things in action. They work by deforming over a period of time, thus dissipating much of the energy and then venting the hot gases, thus preventing it from being quite as destructive. Unless there's a shaped charge involved, and it happens to be focused in the right direction, it's not going to matter much what explosive they use because any explosive's damage is generated by rapidly expanding hot gases.
posted by wierdo at 2:30 PM on November 7, 2010


I should have completed my thought: aircraft skin is weak. It is made no thicker than absolutely necessary so as to save weight. I'm not swayed by some contention that a bomb could have blown a hole in the skin. That's irrelevant anyway. An aircraft doesn't need the skin to fly.

To fly well, yes, but to stay in the air? Not so much. The bomb has to destroy important structural members to "blow it out of the sky". As with the security theater after the cockpit doors were reinforced, this is all a bunch of hysteria. At least in the case of a human carried bomb, the passenger can be sure to place themselves in a location where it will be most likely to do damage to the wing box or cut hydraulic lines.
posted by wierdo at 2:34 PM on November 7, 2010


I'm with you on the whole "blow a hole" does not equal "crash the plane." I am familiar with Aloha Air 243, even. Still, I'm a little skeptical that a metal box (which, after all, can't be that heavy or it would be impractical) is doing a lot of good against a bomb of this size. But -- would love to see this box if you have a link.
posted by Mid at 7:18 PM on November 7, 2010


"The fire that would ensue from a boat bomb attack on a tanker would be of unprecedented
size and intensity. Like the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, there exists no
relevant industrial experience with fires of this scale from which to project measures for securing
public safety."
posted by clavdivs at 10:09 PM on November 8, 2010


or watch 'syriana'

props to heyho for vigliance.
posted by clavdivs at 10:13 PM on November 8, 2010


I hate to do this, Mid, but it's late: Google Scholar.

Sometime in the mid-90s there was some show on the Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel (before they became the baby channel) that showed an earlier version of one of these in action as well as a typical (for the time) cargo container. Needless to say, the "regular" one just blew apart like it wasn't there. The other one just expanded somewhat in size.

They deform, thus absorbing much of the blast energy and vent the hot gases in a more controlled manner, generally.

Either way, I don't see a whole lot of value in any of this, except for passenger flights on larger aircraft. We simply can't keep spending gobs of money fighting the last threat. There will always be some risk of air crashes, and sometimes they'll even kill some people on the ground We didn't go crazy with the security after Pan Am 103 was bombed, because it's one of the smaller risks we face.

If we spent the money we spend on air security or would spend on new air cargo security instead on self-piloting cars, we'd save far more lives and money with the virtual elimination of auto crashes. We ignore the very real risks we face every day in favor of eliminating the smaller risks, simply because they're more..I hate to use the word..hyped.
posted by wierdo at 11:43 PM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


New security rules also limit ink toner, cartridges given Yemen mail bombs.

I seriously am expecting the TSA to begin tugging on people's faces before letting them on.
posted by charred husk at 5:53 AM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now there is your Grade A security theatre.
posted by Artw at 6:04 AM on November 9, 2010




Oh crap now they're getitng ideas from the worst Alien movie.
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on November 9, 2010


Mac and Me?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2010




New security rules also limit ink toner, cartridges given Yemen mail bombs.

Now there is your Grade A security theatre.


I'm not so sure. I watched an interview on television in which a security analyst pointed out that the bomber replaced the powder ink with that of PETN -- also a powder. Thus the cartridge, its contents and the circuit board, cellphone innards, etc. did/could likely pass through X-ray security, raising little/no suspicion.
posted by ericb at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2010


It's security theater because there are all sorts of things in which you can provide a context to make an explosive look benign. Playing whack-a-mole with individual objects, "it's shoes, no wait, it's shampoo, no wait, it's toner cartridges, no wait..." is absurd. It's a way to say to the public "we're doing something" where that something in reality does absolutely nothing.

I mean, if you can't come up with ten other things in which an explosive could be combined with a circuit board and still look fairly benign, you aren't trying. Just like the ban on pen knives and nail clippers doesn't prevent someone from getting a sharpened blade that could be used to kill someone on to an airplane. The reason we haven't seen a takeover like 9/11 has nothing to do with keeping nail files off of flights, it's about locked cockpit doors and new crew expectations. Confiscating pen knives is theater.

Just like banning toner cartridges.

Whatever got someone in Yemen to call the Saudis who then called...? That's what's making a difference, and that's what we need more of.
posted by straw at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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