U.K.: Second Explosive Device, Poor Tradecraft

3 MINS READJun 29, 2007 | 20:49 GMT
Two car bombs found in central London on June 29 were part of a single militant plot, according to British police. Although the discovery of two devices within hours of each other indicates that a potentially widespread plot was being carried out, the tradecraft of the plotters practically ensured the devices would be found.
London police on June 29 confirmed that a suspicious car in a West End parking garage contained a device similar to one found earlier in central London. The second device was found in a car parked illegally on Cockspur Street, which runs between the Haymarket district — where the first device was found — and Trafalgar Square. Traffic police ticketed the car and then towed it to an impounded vehicle garage on Park Lane, where staff noticed a strong odor of fuel coming from the car.
After the device in Haymarket was found, the impoundment garage's staff contacted police about the fumes coming from the second car. Police responded and discovered a second device, which explosives ordnance personnel also rendered safe. London’s Metropolitan Police said the device found at Haymarket appeared to be designed for remote detonation. The attack was probably aborted during the botched placement, however. The plotters had all night to detonate the second device, but failed to do so either because it was moved or because it failed to function as intended. Like the incident in Haymarket, the device planted on Cockspur Street showed signs of being planted by an amateur rather than a serious militant. Parking the car illegally was sure to bring attention to it, just as the erratic driving and subsequent collision with a trash bin drew attention to the car in Haymarket. The bad parking job caused the car to be moved away from its intended target. In addition, the excessive fumes emanating from the car helped give it away, just as occurred in the Haymarket incident. Better planning and a cursory look at where one could and could not park on Cockspur Street might have saved the bomber's plans. Furthermore, had the devices been better constructed and not emitted excessive fumes, they could have escaped notice. Both devices, based on their construction and initial placement, appear to have been intended to cause maximum casualties without aiming for a specific group or target. Hours before the first device was found in Haymarket, a jihadist Internet forum posted a notice saying London would be attacked June 29. The warning of the attack was left by a regular user of the forum who goes by the name Osama al-Hazeen on the chat room Al Hesbah. Though such warnings should be taken seriously, the tradecraft of the individual or individuals who constructed and planted the two devices found in London bear the hallmarks of amateurs, rather than sophisticated militants. This does not mean, however that only two devices were deployed, or that any others that have been deployed will not be better concealed or will not function better. Should the plotter or plotters remain at large, they can learn from their mistakes. The poor tradecraft used in the design and construction of the devices, however, suggest they did not do much to prevent leaving forensic evidence behind. The British will probably be able to use this evidence to track them down.

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