A Slovakian electrician flew from Bratislava to Dublin with 90 grams of RDX plastic explosive in his luggage after an "unconventional security operation" went seriously awry, the Times reports. The unnamed sparks was returning to Ireland, where's he's lived for four years, unaware that his baggage contained enough RDX "to blow …
They have just been handed plausible deniability to give to a jury, well the 87.5% that get caught anyway.
Well, if I can't be first, can I be next?
Not the first time?
Wasn't there a story here a while back where the security lads somewhere planted a load of Bolivia's finest in passenger luggage for their sniffer dogs to find, only to find that their sniffer dogs weren't up to sniff, er, snuff.
Doesn't make sense..
So, the Slovakian authorities contacted the Irish to tell what happened, and the Irish police immediately arrest the poor sod.
Erm, something not right. Seems it took 2 calls at least - one to say he was carrying RDX, the second to say "sorry - we put it there without his knowledge". Enquiry will naturally follow, which I can't wait to read.
Keystone cops spring to mind. (Or, maybe because he was a sparky, and the Keystone branch of the Guarda read something in the Beano about foreign electricians being terrists). At least Mr. Ahern had the decency to apologise.
Did I read right?
Slovakia informs Irish govt they planted explosives in Mr Sparks' bags,
and the Irish arrest him for terrorism...?
Just where was the breakdown in communication?
The Irish know sod all about terrorism...
The Irish know sod all about terrorism?
Only the last 500 years or so - first 400 years of British tyranny and then another 100 years of violence, bombs and arson in the North. Yeah nothin at all chief.
Your sarcasm detector has failed
Nothing to see here.
IRA, UDA, UDF, INLA etc.
YOU MORON, BEER MONSTER. THE IRISH CREATED TERRORISM!
OH my god, the poor poor bloke!
That must have been so traumatic for him, bless.
This has to be the most irresponsible behaviour I've ever heard of. Can you imagine what would have happened if the poor, innocent 'mule' had been traveling to China, The Middle East or America, for example. He'd be imprisoned and possibly excecuted within days, not just arrested.
This is truly sickening and the 'authorities' in question need a boot up the arse for this!
Why was he arrested?
I don't understand why this guy was arrested if the Irish police had been told about the explosives by the people who planted them originally? Surely illegal arrest?
As if we haven't got enough to worry about with yet more security theatre around pervie new body scanners.
Now the fuckers are PLANTING stuff on us...
This is ridiculous, why not use a Slovakian authorities employee for this test? He could then report the security failure at departure and not boarded the plane with RDX. This is a fsking stupid thing to do.
It does make one think how many jailed persons may indeed be innocent and had "contraband" planted on them by authorities.
This guy seriously needs to look into suing the Slovakian authorities.
So let me get this straight. Did the Slovakian authorities contact the Irish authorities and say "Mr X has explosives on him," after which the Irish justifiably moved in, or did they say "Terribly sorry, but we planted explosives on Mr X?"
If it was the latter, why did the Irish see fit to raid his home and arrest him? Think more explaining is needed here.
This doesn't add up
The police raided his flat because the Slovakian authorities contacted them. But then they arrested him and his government had to convince them he was innocent. So what had they told the Irish when they initially contacted them - that he was a terrorist?
Attempting to save face?
How the hell do you get from "we accidentally left 90g of RDX in some unsuspecting guys luggage during a security test" to "let's arrest the guy on suspicion of terrorism"?
I know here in Blighty mens rea is an outmoded concept thanks to NuLab and merely looking foreign is enough to get you summarily executed, but surely in Ireland you need some kind of intention to cause terror before they arrest you?
Plus you'd imagine that if he'd intended to blow up a plane he'd at least have got as far as setting his nickers on fire.
This is not the first time this has happened
Basically, in August 1995 those wacky Dutch security officials (same ones who let the Nigerian bomber through with exploding underpants) planted a bomb in the luggage of a passenger as part of a security exercise, and failed to retrieve it. The explosives got onto a real flight, crossed the Atlantic, and actually only were discovered because the Prof (Paul Holloway) complained to the airline about his luggage being damaged.
See for example, "Dutch Authorities Plant Explosives on UF Professor"
Not us, that time...
The Nigerian wasn't the Dutch that did it wrong, he was on a transfer and already cleared from wherever he came from. Where they did have information he was actually a terror suspect, reported by his own father.
This however, sounds like a horrible mess. Whoever put the explosives there should be sued for attempted murder, because taking explosives through security isn't all that close from suicide some of the time... Seems like a great reason to take only hand luggage from now on.
The Dutch did get it wrong
It's not as if he was flying in from a trusted country where they can assume that proper security is in place. The guy was flying in from a country known for it's corruption so he should have been re screened the moment he hit the airport.
Makes me feel like we are all just their pawns to do with as they like, regardless of the serious reprocussions to all of us.
Just as well this Slovakian electrician wasn't in London or he could have joined the Brazilian electrician being shot dead by plain clothes police officers.
See text body..
Between the Slovakian authorities planting explosives and the Japanese customs planting drugs (all for testing purposes, honest) we live in interesting times for travelling!!
It seemed to me to be a bout of incompetence from the Irish plod, until I read the final paragraph in the Times article:
"It is understood that the security breach came to light only because officials at Bratislava airport finally contacted their counterparts at Dublin airport who then passed the information to the police."
Which implies, to me at least, that it was more likely that some of the rather significant details were left out of the conversation between Dublin airport and the police.
Definitely a case of Chinese Whispers. Some where down the line someone must have just communicated that there was X grams of high explosive imported into the country that must be recovered immediately.
Come on El Reg! You can do better. What exactly did the Slovakian officials tell their Irish counterparts? Arresting the poor guy sounds a bit harsh, if they have said they planted it in the baggage of an innocent third party. I do understand that the Irish authorities knocked at his door and wanted the stuff handed over, but they could have done it in a nicer way.
Why do check-in desk staff bother to ask if you packed your own bags if they can be tampered with before loading?
Do we need to shrink-wrap our luggage now?
Irish were right...
I read it to mean he was arrested at dublin airport, then it took 3 days to get the info from the slovaks.
Seens to me thet the irish police did the right thing, guys turns up with explosives, arrst him and raid his flat.
What went wrong here is that the slovaks screwed up.
Do our overlords, sorry authorities, do the same thing? If they want to test security do it with someone who knows, and can prove, whats going on!
Lucky the bloke wasn't shot!
So slovakian civvy gets back to his digs in Dublin unpacks and finds enough high explosive to down a passenger jet?
This story smells of BS.
History of explosives in Ireland
Having somewhat more experience with explosives than UK based readers, the Gardai were absolutely correct to arrest the guy until he was proven innocent. Civil liberties are great, especially when you're still alive to enjoy them!
Guilty until proven innocent, eh?
Well, even if that absolutely shit-headed idea really does seem like a great way to run a society to you, you appear to have deliberately missed the blindlingly obvious point that IT WAS KNOWN HE WAS INNOCENT FROM THE WORD GO. Presumably you have such a massive chip on your shoulder about something-or-other that you couldn't see the vital relevance of that fact?
We don't need no steenking known innocence
See Report 1 of the Morris Tribunal. He was lucky he didn't land at Donegal International Airport.
It's the SHOUTED bit in there that's important.
It was certainly known to the Slovaks. It seems that this particular and rather key piece of information wasn't passed to the Gardai, who reacted appropriately given that omission.
Re: Guilty until proven innocent, eh?
"Well, even if that absolutely shit-headed idea really does seem like a great way to run a society to you, you appear to have deliberately missed the blindlingly obvious point that IT WAS KNOWN HE WAS INNOCENT FROM THE WORD GO."
And you seem to have missed the obvious point that the police DID NOT KNOW that he was innocent. They were not directly contacted by Slovakian authorities. And your "guilty until proven innocent" line is utter bullshit. The man is not going to have to go to court; his story has been accepted after the Slovakians got round to explaining their fuckup. There is a very large difference between presumption of innocence in court and allowing someone who is known to be in possession of illegal high grade plastic explosives to walk about freely.
What about the ones they did find?
The other innocent passengers who had this stuff planted on them will now have their luggage contaminated with explosives.
The next time someone does a swab test on that luggage this may be detected. How is that person to prove their innocence, when they have no knowledge of the explosives having been planted and no way to find out?
I've had this test done at Eurostar - they opened a bag and wiped part of the inside with some sort of swab. If that had come up positive how could I have known about some half-wit security test weeks or months before?
What about the residue?
The poor bastard is going to have RDX residue over all his clothes, and in his flat. Whenever he goes through an airport with a gas chromatogram sniffer (which all will soonish, thanks to Underpants Boy) he's going to get the free prostate exam. I don't know how long residue will continue to trigger the ultra-sensitive tests, but I bet it's years.
I have no idea how the Irish autorities didn't realise when the pilot himself sent a "Telex" message. I mean I'm sure the entire garda force were standing around the national 'telex' machine these last 85 years just waiting in case just such an announcement was to be made.....
Esp considering "In Ireland, Eircom – the country's largest telecommunication company and former PTT – formally discontinued Telex services on 30 July 2002"
...the mind boggles....
The last time the Irish got substantially involved in anti-terrorism, didn't they raid Battersea Dogs' Home and kill all the Afghans?
I don't know much about RDX, but can it be set off accidentally*?
Christ, what if his luggage shifted in flight and blew them all up?
What's next? New test for Slovakia : We're going to test our new patriot missiles** by firing SAMS at international flights to see if we can shoot them down ok.
*I'm assuming it requires a detonator
**yes, I know they couldn't even take down scuds, SAMS are far too small and fast.
RDX is one of the most stable explosives known, touch a match to it and it burns, no boom. To get it to detonate requires a compound blasting cap, you might get away with a standard cap but big uncertainty if it will work.
Grunts used to take a little glob of C-4 (RDX + plasticizer) and use it as fuel for the field stoves, burned hot and clean. Great for heating up a quick cup of joe.
Stable, but still explosive
All explosives should be treated as if they could blow up. Same basic rule as firearms being treated is if they are loaded.
Did the morons check if the victim had any potentially problematic things in his bag first? Or did they just chuck it in? Even if they had a plan in place to not miss the bag, who's to say something in his bag wouldn't detonate it in the airport killing hundreds of staff and travellers?
Stable, but still explosive, part 2
I agree with you completely about how explosives should be treated but unless there was already a bomb in this guys luggage the risk was next to nil.
A primary explosive, like dynamite, will go with just a flame/heat/shock.
RDX is a secondary explosive, it needs a primary explosive to create the high velocity detonation wave for it to do anything but burn. You can shoot bullets through C-4 and at most it >might< catch on fire and burn.
Pure RDX is also stable though it is sensive to friction, so if the guys bag had been run over by a steam roller there could have been a problem.
To use your analogy think of RDX as the gun itself, its safe as long as you don't load it.
Lucky he wasn't going to London
An immigrant electrician, suspected of being involved with terrorism? SO19 need that like they need a hole in the head.
Also of note is that the explosive planted (RDX), an early plastic explosive, is extremely unstable at low temperatures (below -4 deg.C.)
The hold of the plane was not heated, the external temperature in Slovakia was -30deg., on the ground, and the external ground temperature in Ireland is about -5 deg. at its coldest.
C-4 is stable, and usable from -57C to +77C. I'm guessing thats what they used since its the most common form of RDX based "plastic explosives" currently in use.
RDX is not a "plastic" explosive in and of itself, it is a white crystalline solid and not at all flexible in its pure forms. It is mixed with various plastisizers to make a "plastic explosive" that can be molded like putty. On its own its very stable to shock and heat but is a little touchy to friction. I would be more worried about a spark detonating the fuel/air mix in the planes fuel tanks than the RDX in a suitcase detonating due to rough handling.
The Slovakian authorities have a different take on it. Also, the reason he apparently 'didn't notice this stuff in his luggage' is that he was contacted immediately by the Slovaks, and advised to do nothing until the Irish police contacted him
If it happened to me I'd be furious
So not only do the muppets of the Slovakian security authorities put at risk a plane and its passengers, but then the poor beggar who they accidentally fit up gets arrested. And anyone who's ever taken a trip to America on the Visa Waiver programme will know that by simple fact of being arrested he'd never be able to travel there visa-free ever again. And, given the nature of the arrest, despite the massive extenuating circumstances, you can bet your last euro that the US visa people will take one look at the record - "explosives, aeroplane, arrest" - and he'll be on a no-fly list before he can blink.
Poor bloke will never be able to travel anywhere ever again! If that were me I'd be reaching for the nearest high-powered lawyer.
Foreign electrician left *alive* after anti-terrorist raid.
Better than *some* plice forces have managed.
How many Irish exactly understand Slovakian (or vice-versa)? It's a wonder they communicated at all; much less finally got the poor blighter off the hook. He could have spent a lot of time in chokey.
Those of us who have the temerity to speak out for civil liberties and criticise the government or police will be used as "test subjects", this time with the notable absence of any telephone calls to other countries' police departments concerning the "test". Nice way for free democratic governments to rid themselves of "dissidents" without tarnishing their free democratic image now, isn't it?
Photographers, civil liberties activists, and conscientious objectors, beware.
Pilot informed of explosives on board, takes off anyway!
Apparently, the Slovak authroities realized their mistake before the plane even took off, but the pilot decided to fly to Dublin anyway, and sent a message to ServisAir, the private company that handles baggage and check-in desks for airlines that don't have enough flights to Dublin to have their own staff based there. They ignored the message. (Which doesn't surprise me in the least). The pilot didn't follow up when he got to Dublin.
If found, please return to:
He could have just mailed the RDX back to them...
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