Keeping Abreast of New Terror Threat

From a column in Forbes, by a certain Elan Singer, 5 January:

what is the shrewd terrorist to do if he cannot place a little PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) in his underwear?… While most religious clerics would frown upon breast implants for aesthetic reasons, there are more than a few who would likely put their blessing on a pair for explosive reasons…And there is no shortage of physicians who are terrorist sympathizers or even terrorists themselves. Just look at Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was a prominent gynecologist before dedicating his life to death and destruction. He is more than capable of popping some implants into an eager small-breasted terrorist… As a plastic surgeon who has done hundreds of these procedures, I know that all you really need is a knife, some suture material and maybe a bite stick.

This is speculative, but it’s also plausible. A reader letter to the Ottumwa Courier outlined the same scenario the next day.

Remarkably, just weeks later the Daily Mail warns us that it may all be true:

…an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting ‘surgical bombs’ inside people for the first time.

…It is understood MI5 became aware of the threat after observing increasingly vocal internet ‘chatter’ on Arab websites this year.

The warning comes in the wake of the failed attempt by London-educated Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an airliner approaching Detroit on Christmas Day.

One security source said: ‘If the terrorists are talking about this, we need to be ready and do all we can to counter the threat.’

A leading source added that male bombers would have the explosive secreted near their appendix or in their buttocks, while females would have the material placed inside their breasts in the same way as figure-enhancing implants

So “an operation by MI5” actually means… looking at some websites. Judging from experiences such as the “Terror Target Sugar” Glen Jenvey fiasco and the “Madonna Targeted by Muslim Fanatics” non-story, one is strongly advised to consider whether the “chatter” is anything more than some anonymous person linking back to Singer’s article or the Ottumwa Courier letter and saying, “hey, wouldn’t that be great?”

But there’s even more, from WorldNetDaily yesterday:

Agents for Britain’s MI5 intelligence service have discovered that Muslim doctors trained at some of Britain’s leading teaching hospitals have returned to their own countries to fit surgical implants filled with explosives.

…Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaida are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery.

…Hours after he had failed, GCHQ – Britain’s worldwide eavesdropping “spy in the sky” agency – began to pick up “chatter” emanating from Pakistan and Yemen that alerted MI5 to the creation of the lethal implants.

A hand-picked team was appointed by Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, to investigate the threat. He described it as “one that can circumvent our defense.”

Top surgeons who work in the National Health Service confirmed the feasibility of the explosive implants.

In a report to Evans, one said:

“Properly inserted the implant would be virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines. You would need to subject a suspect to a sophisticated X-ray. Given that the explosive would be inserted in a sealed plastic sachet, and would be a small amount, would make it all the more impossible to spot it with the usual body scanner.”

WND does not cite the Mail article, nor does it give the sources for its more dramatic claims (aside from WND‘s own paper newsletter Whistleblower, which doesn’t count). How exactly a conspiracy-mongering conservative internet news-site operating out of the west coast of the USA acquired this extra information – including a direct quote from the head of MI5 that is found nowhere else on-line (1), and material from a report prepared for him – is somewhat mysterious.

Pointlessly, WND also includes a picture of a woman suicide bomber named Iat Alacharas – who actually carried her bomb in a purse.

Meanwhile, the Mail reports that one man is on the case:

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons Counter-Terrorism Sub-Committee, said: ‘Our enemies are constantly evolving their techniques to try to defeat our methods of detection.

‘This is one of the most savage forms that extremists could use, and while we are redeveloping travel security we have got to take this new development into account.’

That would be the same Patrick Mercer who allowed himself to be serially duped by Glen Jenvey.

(1) Yes, I also looked for “defence” as well as “defense”, and I did plurals as well.