A British newspaper is reporting that a Syrian branch of Al Qaeda is plotting to bomb five commercial airliners in a coordinated attack on London, just before Christmas. Authorities are reportedly taking it so seriously, that they're considering banning carry-on baggage.
A security source allegedly told The Sunday Express: "We've been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They've been waiting for the big one. We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real." The plot apparently involves smuggling bombs on board the flights.
The source also reported that airport officials in the U.K. were told to "prepare for the big one," in which terrorists would detonate bombs concealed within personal electronic devices. Officials here in the U.S. are being notably tight-lipped about the alleged plot. Threats from Al Qaeda's Khorasan Group in Syria are what prompted air strikes by the U.S. beginning in September, according to The Daily Beast. Intelligence officials also believe terrorists are capable of hiding bombs inside their own body cavity, which would be difficult or impossible to detect. A British government official also told the Huffington Post last week, that "It is almost inevitable that something is going to happen in the next few months."
The last successful attempt at smuggling a bomb on board a plane was on Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day, 2009. A Nigerian passenger had sewn a bomb made with 2.8 ounces of Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) into his underwear. PETN is an ingredient used in plastic explosives. The bomber suffered burns when the bomb failed to detonate, and was tackled by another passenger, then arrested when the plane landed in Detroit.
It was December 21st, 1988 that Pan Am flight 103 was blown up by Libyan terrorists while in flight. The Boeing 747 (pictured at top) crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board, plus 11 on the ground.
Top photo via Getty Images