Why is everyone so fixated on TATP?
From the original article:
However, not being interested in bigging up a marginal threat, he also pointed out the many practical difficulties involved in mixing up viable, deadly TATP from (fairly) easily purchased peroxide and acetone - and correctly laughed to scorn the idea that it's feasible to do this in an airliner lavatory.
That's not to say that four or five terrorists couldn't pass through security carrying their precursors and patiently mix up a viable batch of TATP in some secluded airside spot - and anyway, gaining access to airside doesn't necessarily mean passing through passenger security. Once the charge is done, the actual suicide bomber takes it aboard the plane. Bingo.
Dr Alford, being a professional, may not have chosen to mix up something as volatile and dangerous as TATP - or if he did he may have taken steps to desensitise it somewhat, not wishing to foolishly blow himself up.
Neither the "on-board toilet" nor the "secluded airside spot" scenarios for preparing TATP are remotely feasible (unless the "secluded spot" was a portakabin containing a laboratory). Also, Dr. Alford would, indeed, probably have chosen a different substance.
The explosives used in the 7/7 attacks in London were described at the time as "acetone peroxide" (AP). Here's how you make it:
I saw this back on 15th July 2005. I looked it up out of curiosity, since I had never come across any such substance as "acetone peroxide" in my O-level chemistry studies and doubted its existence. (I suspected a bit of disinformation by the security services.)
AP is unstable and cannot be kept for more than two days. Note the disclaimer on the web page to the effect you are responsible for any criminal charges resulting from following this recipe, and if you kill yourself, don't try to sue the author.
AP (which I assume is the same as TATP) CANNOT be used without being very carefully prepared in advance.
However, there ARE commercially available liquid binary explosives, for example, FIXOR (TM). See http://www.mrel.com/FIXOR.html
This is manufactured by a reputable Canadian firm (MREL) who advertise it for use in clearance of land mines and unexploded ordnance. It has the following advantages (see MREL's publicity brochure):
1. Its two components are non-explosive when separate, and can be transported cheaply as safe material.
2. It is very simple to use: pour the contents of one bottle into the other, shake, shove a detonator through the cap of the bottle containing the mixture, and you're ready to blow.
3. If not detonated within two hours, the mixture spontaneously separates into its original constituents and is then no longer dangerous until given another shake. (A suicide bomber wouldn't leave it lying around for two hours, of course.)
4. Eco-friendly: does not leave toxic decomposition products (and so its separate constituents might not give off detectable fumes, but I am speculating here).
This seems ideal for the job, taken on board in Alcopops bottles by a few different volunteers, travelling separately, who meet up on board for a little party and to share their drinks. Watch out for the guy dropping his trousers to get the detonator out of his a***hole (except that he *would* do that in the toilet).
I'm surprised that someone with Lewis Page's qualifications isn't aware of such commercial explosives, and that El Reg commentators are so easily distracted into poo-pooing obviously infeasible plots.
(Skull and crossbones for sudden death.)