Larry C. Johnson
June 29, 2007
So I turn on the telly this morning and find breathless CNN anchors hyperventilating over the nuclear suicide car weapon of mass destruction discovered smoldering outside of a London nightclub. One report from the scene notes that:
London police were contacted when witnesses saw a Mercedes being driven erratically near London West End night club Tiger Tiger, and the driver jumped out of the automobile and ran away. The car was reported to have two gasoline canisters and be full of nails.
Explosives officers discovered the fuel and nails attached to a "potential means of detonation," inside the vehicle. Officers "courageously" disabled the trigger by hand, he said. Security sources told CNN that the "relatively crude device" in the first car contained at least 200 liters, or about 50 gallons, of fuel in canisters.
You know what you call a vehicle with 50 gallons of gas? A Cadillac Escalade. The media meltdown over this incident is simply shameful.
For starters, gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incendiary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapenal.
Here is Larry Johnson discussing this in further deatil on Countdown with Keith Olbermann
The fact that "officers courageously disabled the trigger by hand" coupled with the report of the smoke in the car leads me to believe that the mad London "bomber" tried to construct a Molotov cocktail of sorts and lit a cloth fuze. Fortunately he left the windows in the car up and there was not enough oxygen to really get the fire going. Looks like the brave British police reached in and snuffed the flame.
Judging from the overreaction to this non-incident I think we can safely conclude that Osama Bin Laden will remain holed up in Pakistan and let the fear mongers at CNN, MSNBC, and FOX do the dirty business of scaring the shit out of people.
UPDATE: Ahh, the panic continues. Yuppie terrorists are on the loose. Now we're being told there are two cars (both Mercedes I might add) with a Rube Goldberg contraption consisting of propane tanks, some petrol, a light bulb (or maybe light bulb filaments), etc. A propane tank explosion makes a hell of a noise but does not create widespread shrapnel dispersion. Busted eardrums and broken glass are more likely. Getting these tanks to explode is difficult. The ones I have witnessed occurred when a house under construction caught on fire. But there is nothing in two 25lb propane tanks inside a Mercedes that will detonate with sufficient force to shred the automobile and send hundreds to meet their Allah, God, Buddha, or whatever. Still a crock of hype and over-reaction. Let the police do their job. Investigate the culprits and get these nitwits out of circulation before they harm themselves.
Larry C. Johnson is a former intelligence officer of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, where he served for four years, until 1989, when he became deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, until October 1993. He is the CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management. He has worked as a private consultant on issues of international terrorism and has appeared as a consultant and commentator in many major newspapers and news programs.