Sydney Airport Plotters Tried to Hide Bomb Inside a Barbie

We now know a lot more about the airline bomb plot that was foiled in Sydney. The plan was to blow up an Etihad Sydney – Abu Dhabi flight. As usual much of the initial reporting was wrong.

The story at the beginning was that the bomb was hidden inside a meat grinder in a passenger’s luggage, but as luck would have it the bag was too heavy and didn’t get checked. Now that story has changed, and the bomb was supposedly hidden inside a large barbie doll.

Copyright: anamuraca / 123RF Stock Photo

It turns out that childrens toys are dangerous after all.

Once that plot failed, “[t]heir alleged new plan was to release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into Sydney Airport and on public transport at the same time.”

In other words they were no longer going to take down a plane.

  • Airport security doesn’t eliminate the threat, it shifts the threat elsewhere

  • Airports are still targets.

The lessons of Brussels and Istanbul — and now Sydney — are that you want to get passengers through the security checkpoint quickly for safety. Long lines and more passengers airside are bigger targets.

That’s not a new idea, though it’s one that many are only now starting to wake up to. In 2002 I wrote,

..[T]ake the long security screening lines that have become the bane of air travelers everywhere. An ambitious terrorist could easily detonate a bomb in the crowd, killing hundreds and scaring Americans away from air travel–possibly for good.

Moving the lines further out of the airports simply recreates the problem elsewhere. And as security measures become more stringent, our freedom to travel is further encumbered, though we aren’t any safer than before.

Official sources say that no attack was actually imminent in Australia, that conspirators were “a mile-and-a-half from having a functioning chemical dispersion device.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m sorry, but your snarky comments regarding airport security are tiresome. No security measures are perfect,, but there likely is some deterrent effect. If you know of a perfect system, please let us know.

    In the meantime, yes, we are all inconvenienced to some extent from time to time. It is unfortunate to be sure. There are risks and we assume them whenever we travel.

    Yet those posed by terrorists are unnatural and real, though admittedly remote.

    I hope we go after them and obliterate them and I hope that our government is serious about doing so and enjoined by other governments that finally become serious about doing so.

  2. @Ron – Gary’s “snarky comments” are about a very real problem in the way that we have approached security, particularly post-9/11. Every new security policy or screening takes away citizens’ freedom, privacy, or both. While this cannot be completely avoided (open carry on airlines probably isn’t a great idea), the government should be extremely careful and be held accountable for every action they take. Sadly, they have a growing track record of taking away freedom/privacy while not making us any safer, and in some cases actually making us less safe. A passive attitude of “we are all inconvenienced to some extent from time to time” while not thinking critically or expecting accountability will only allow the security state to grow, taking away more of our freedoms and privacy and leaving us even less safe and less free than before.

  3. Full ban on Barbie Dolls to go into immediate effect at airports. However, travelling with your Ken Doll is currently acceptable.

  4. Just a quasi typo… Don’t you mean more passengers landside become a target?
    And, having been through all kind of “security” screenings, I have to agree with Gary.
    It is political theater more often than not, frequently dumbed down by being made more cumbersome and complicated, so it becomes a game of “gotcha” rather than real security.

  5. If you travel outside the U.S. enough where they have the security screening queue outside just to get inside the airport, it is a massive jumbled line. Doesn’t take long to realize you are a sitting duck with the many cars parked outside on the curb. That said, many foreign airports I have traveled through (mostly Asia) don’t have long security lines because they have enough lanes open, they don’t constantly yell at waiting pax creating anxiety, or treat people like cattle. It’s not that bad of an experience. If only the U.S. could take a few notes.

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