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Semtex on a Plane

08.13.2006 16:05 | DISPATCHES

"I want this motherfucking Semtex off this motherfucking plane!"

— Samuel L. Jackson on a hypothetical NYC - LA flight, sometime in the near future.

These new-generation terrorists think too much. Shoe bombs requiring ignition systems and a window seat? Liquid bombs with movable, sloshing parts? I'm surprised Hollywood thought of poison snakes before Al Qaeda did.

If you want to take down a plane and not have to worry about getting tackled mid-flight, arrested at security, or bitten first, there are proven alternatives. Just go back to 1988, when a few crack Libyan agents obliterated Pan Am flight 103 above the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Qadafi didn't get too 007 about his business. He simply had his men fit 11 ounces of Semtex plastic explosive into a cassette recorder and attach a timer. The bomb was placed inside a suitcase and checked at Heathrow airport. Minutes after flight 103 was airborne, Boom.

That, infidels, is a much easier way to blow up a plane than Inspector Gadget shoes or specially marked cans of Mountain Dew.

Semtex is an odorless, malleable, and Energizer Bunny-like weapon -- the ageless ninja of the plastic explosives family. It's also widely available in the former Soviet Union and across the Middle East, mass-produced for years in the Czech town of Semptin. Given the failure of shoe-bomber retard Richard Reid and news of the latest foiled plot, it's puzzling that these guys don't just fit a baseball's worth of Semtex into a massive death-dildo, put it next to their socks and underwear, check it, and walk away. The chance of an underpaid security employee suspecting, let alone touching, such a massive death-dildo is small, at best.

Fearing a re-run of Pan Am 103, sensible laws were passed after 9/11 requiring that all checked baggage be screened for explosives. But like so much anti-terror legislation, it's regarded by security pros as a joke. After being matched to their owners and (maybe) lightly scanned for sticks of dynamite attached to clocks, most suitcases are tossed into the plane's storage belly. Explosive-proof luggage containers, while emerging from the development phase, are still more expensive than the aluminum industry-standard and hence not widely used.

The plastic explosives threat reveals the latest craze of liquid no-fly items as just another Maginot Line. The no-fly list can be expanded until we are flying in hospital pajamas, but it won't matter as long as all that lightly screened luggage is down there so close to the fuel tank.

Which is why I propose eliminating flight baggage altogether. My suitcases end up at the wrong airport half the time anyway. If passengers insist on bringing luggage on trips, then let them pay extra for a luggage plane to fly safely behind the people plane. If there is a death-dildo on it, then only two people will die, not 200. It would also create new industries, like clothing rental firms at airports.

It's either that, or we accept the extreme likelihood of another Lockerbie. Because those millions of tons of loose Semtex won't decay anytime soon. Eventually a Qaeda crew is going to see a lightbulb and stop wasting their time trying to fit a bomb inside a belt buckle. One smart cell is going to put away all that silliness, go pay off a drunk Czech soldier for a healthy chunk of the pink stuff, then commence a hunt for the biggest, nastiest dildo that pound sterling can buy.


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