In the summer of 2006, as many as 18 conspirators planned to simultaneously blow up almost 10 airplanes by bringing hydrogen peroxide-injected soda-bottles-turned-bombs onto flights bound from London to the U.S. and Canada. Now, National Geographic Channel (NGC) — with unprecedented access to undercover agents and top officials from the CIA, Homeland Security and British Counter-Terror Command — goes inside the true story behind the largest and most sophisticated terrorism plot since September 11, 2001, which changed airline security measures around the world.
The Liquid Bomb Plot details how a threat that began as a British counterterrorist investigation evolved into a global emergency. In the U.S., President Bush’s administration, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security worked feverishly to protect America from an attack on the scale of 9/11.
With remarkable access to the highest-level officials involved in foiling the terrorists — some of whom have given NGC their only interview on the plot — the complete details behind the operation are revealed. Interviews include, from the U.S., General Michael Hayden, former director, CIA; Michael Chertoff, former secretary, Department of Homeland Security; Robert Grenier, former Islamabad station chief, CIA; Kip Hawley, former director, Transportation Security Administration;and Charlie Allen, chief intelligence officer, Department of Homeland Security. Top U.K. interviews include Lord John Reid, former home secretary and former defense secretary, Britain; Andy Hayman, former assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Metropolitan Police; and Peter Clarke, OBE, former national co-coordinator of terrorist investigations, Metropolitan Police.
Now, for the first time, U.S. officials recount how they essentially forced the hand of the British to arrest the suspected terrorists ahead of schedule by making a secret trip to Pakistan. General Michael Hayden was working closely with the British government on Operation Overt, the largest surveillance operation in U.K history, with more than 200 agents involved in surveillance alone, not to mention the senior officials on both sides of the pond monitoring the situation.
General Hayden discusses on camera for the only time how he visited Pakistan and met with the head of the Pakistan Intelligence Agency without alerting the British, who had requested more time to gather evidence. During Hayden’s trip, Rashid Rauf, the key Al Qaeda operative in the plot, was arrested by the Pakistani authorities, thus compelling the British to move into the “arrest phase” ahead of plan before those involved found out they might be compromised.
“The British had always suspected the Americans were behind Rauf’s arrest, but this is the first and only time a senior U.S. figure has discussed the arrest publicly,” explains Executive Producer Louise Norman, who worked for more than a year to gain access to the true details behind the terror plot from both the U.S. and British governments. “The Liquid Bomb Plot is by far the most comprehensive, detailed report on how this incredible terror plot was foiled. I thought I knew the full story, but what happened behind the scenes has never been fully reported until now.”
The resulting arrests led to 11 terrorism-related convictions and a mountain of evidence, including 26,000 exhibits from 102 property searches, 80 seized computers and related devices, and 15,000 CDs, 500 disks and 14,000 gigs of data.
The arrests also made news around the world and changed air travel in the most substantial way since 9/11–including passengers not being allowed to go through airport security with more than 3.4 ounces of liquid.
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SOURCE National Geographic Channel