"Liquids". That's, to me, the most interesting aspect of the foiled terror plot in London. Why liquids? What were these weapons? One possibility is hydrogen cyanide. Ron Suskind's book revealed the terrorist breakthrough in a device called a "mubtakkar" that can be easily concealed in a carry-on bag and once detonated, kills everyone in a confined space within minutes. It's a variant of the Zyklon B innovated by the Nazis. Money quote:
U.S. intelligence got its first inkling of the plot from the contents of a laptop computer belonging to a Bahraini jihadist captured in Saudi Arabia early in 2003. It contained plans for a gas-dispersal system dubbed "the mubtakkar" (Arabic for inventive). Fearing that al-Qaeda's engineers had achieved the holy grail of terror R&D — a device to effectively distribute hydrogen-cyanide gas, which is deadly when inhaled — the CIA immediately set about building a prototype based on the captured design, which comprised two separate chambers for sodium cyanide and a stable source of hydrogen, such as hydrochloric acid. A seal between the two could be broken by a remote trigger, producing the gas for dispersal. The prototype confirmed their worst fears: "In the world of terrorist weaponry," writes Suskind, "this was the equivalent of splitting the atom. Obtain a few widely available chemicals, and you could construct it with a trip to Home Depot — and then kill everyone in the store."
The device was shown to President Bush and Vice President Cheney the following morning, prompting the President to order that alerts be sent through all levels of the U.S. government. Easily constructed and concealed, the device ensured that mass casualties would be inevitable if it could be triggered in any enclosed public space.
I wonder if this was the intended device for the U.S-U.K. airplanes. Think of them as having the smallness and ubiquity of an iPod, but with the impact of an instant gas-chamber. It's their iGod. Sending them to paradise and the rest of us to oblivion.