Worst-case terrorist scenario

Old Oct 19, 07, 12:24 pm
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Exclamation Worst-case terrorist scenario

If you go over the links in this thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=619038 you will find any quantity of both anecdotal and systematic evidence that electronic devices can interfere with aircraft control and navigation systems.

Now suppose you are a terrorist cell intent upon bringing down a few dozen U.S.-flag airliners (as in the Manila plot) and you know that broadband RF noise of sufficient power could do it. Remember - these people are fanatical, not stupid.

Could you disguise your device as a laptop or GameBoy and walk right onto a plane with it? Or build a timer into it and secrete it in a checked bag or cargo shipment?

Last edited by CessnaJock; Oct 19, 07 at 12:34 pm
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by CessnaJock View Post
Remember - these people are fanatical, not stupid.
I disagree. A lot (most?) of them are quite stupid.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by CessnaJock View Post
Or build a timer into it and secrete it in a checked bag or cargo shipment?
Heck, yes. Cargo would probably be the easiest. Now, would the device do as designed? I donít know, that is outside my scope of expertise.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by magiciansampras View Post
I disagree. A lot (most?) of them are quite stupid.
Only the ones they've caught.

Nineteen of them took down the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon with box cutters.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by magiciansampras View Post
I disagree. A lot (most?) of them are quite stupid.
What's worse than underestimating our enemies? Overestimating ourselves.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by mmartin4600 View Post
What's worse than underestimating our enemies? Overestimating ourselves.
"One who lacks strategic planning and underestimates the enemy will be captured."
Sun-Tzu The Art of War
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by mmartin4600 View Post
What's worse than underestimating our enemies?
It's not underestimating; they literally are quite stupid. One only need to look at the "threats" that have been caught to see what kind of IQs we're working with here.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by magiciansampras View Post
It's not underestimating; they literally are quite stupid. One only need to look at the "threats" that have been caught to see what kind of IQs we're working with here.
As I said above - only the ones that have been caught are stupid. I have no doubt that there are many still out there of equal or greater intelligence than our agents, and who outwit the good guys daily.

If our defense relied only on the stupidity of our adversary, we'd be in a real mess.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by CessnaJock View Post
If you go over the links in this thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=619038 you will find any quantity of both anecdotal and systematic evidence that electronic devices can interfere with aircraft control and navigation systems.

Now suppose you are a terrorist cell intent upon bringing down a few dozen U.S.-flag airliners (as in the Manila plot) and you know that broadband RF noise of sufficient power could do it. Remember - these people are fanatical, not stupid.

Could you disguise your device as a laptop or GameBoy and walk right onto a plane with it? Or build a timer into it and secrete it in a checked bag or cargo shipment?

Until robots and computers fly planes with no human involvement, I would guess that this could be done on 50 planes, and only 1 would crash.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:56 pm
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Originally Posted by CessnaJock View Post
As I said above - only the ones that have been caught are stupid. I have no doubt that there are many still out there of equal or greater intelligence than our agents, and who outwit the good guys daily.
Shrug. Maybe.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by MKEbound View Post
Until robots and computers fly planes with no human involvement, I would guess that this could be done on 50 planes, and only 1 would crash.
So if it were done on 500 planes, 10 would crash?

5000?

Think what you're saying!

p.s. the problem is that robots and computers fly planes. When the pilot is connected to the control surfaces by cables and hydraulic lines, the danger from RF jamming is nil.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 1:00 pm
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You have a flair for the dramatic, I'll give you that

Why bother with being on the flight and all the nastiness that comes from actually experiencing a crashing airplane. Let's take your scenario further - why don't they just park a car near the approach path on a rainy, foggy night and blast some RF at the ILS glideslope and localizer antennas as an aircraft on a CATII or III approach is passing through 1,000' on a low-minimums approach?

How about we get some control over the security gaps we can fix right now and worry about the pie-in-the-sky stuff later on.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by CessnaJock View Post
Nineteen of them took down the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon with box cutters.
Not really, but I understand your point. We do seem to be continually fighting the last war. Love the signature, by the way.

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Old Oct 19, 07, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
You have a flair for the dramatic, I'll give you that

Why bother with being on the flight and all the nastiness that comes from actually experiencing a crashing airplane. Let's take your scenario further - why don't they just park a car near the approach path on a rainy, foggy night and blast some RF at the ILS glideslope and localizer antennas as an aircraft on a CATII or III approach is passing through 1,000' on a low-minimums approach?

How about we get some control over the security gaps we can fix right now and worry about the pie-in-the-sky stuff later on.
Easy fix - don't allow parking near the glideslope antennae - and scan for RF noise around airports.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 1:25 pm
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Personally I'm beginning to wonder if it's not more a matter of getting reckless (why be careful and deliberate if you're planning to die anyway), even (maybe unconsciously) wanting to get caught, rather than simply being stupid. Even the perpetrators of 9/11 were at times careless beyond belief (e.g. taking flying courses and openly showing no interest in the landing bit). I guess being a suicide terrorist is not easy on the human psyche, and less so if you've been living in relative comfort for some time prior to your acts.

In the end all the extra security measures imposed on travelers and staff are killing and hurting innocent people more than terrorist attacks on transportation could have achieved.
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