An Attack by “Dilettantes” (More on the Alleged German Terror Plot)

Posted by John Rosenthal

According to the account provided by German authorities, the two "suitcase bombs" found on German regional trains three weeks ago are supposed to have contained "propane-gas canisters" surrounded by plastic bottles filled with gasoline. The latter are supposed in turn to have been connected by light-bulb wire to detonators fashioned from alarm clocks. In an article published in yesterday’s edition of the Berlin daily der Tagespiegel [link in German], Alexander S. Kekulé, a German science writer and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Halle, reflects on the potential destructiveness of such devices on the reasonable supposition that the described "propane-gas canisters" were in fact filled with propane-gas. The article’s title, "An Attack by Dilettantes", provides a foretaste of its conclusions. Here an excerpt:

If this supposition is correct…, the bombs were constructed in such a dilettantish manner that they could have hardly done major damage. Propane gas is only combustible in combination with large quantities of aerial oxygen. There cannot, however, be much air in a liquid gas canister, because the liquid gas phase is constantly evaporated [sic.] and thus the air is displaced. Even the lighting of the surrounding gasoline mixtures would have been unlikely to cause the propane-gas canisters to explode – otherwise on many a hot summer day barbecue parties would go up in smoke one after the other. Moreover, the use of wire from light bulbs to ignite the explosives is exceptionally prone to failure. (Many an untrained schoolboy knows better methods.) Even if the lighting of the substances had occurred successfully, there would indeed have been a powerful jet of flame [Stichflamme] in the train cars, but it is highly likely that there would not have been any bomb-like detonation.


Professor Kekulé continues:

It cannot, then, be concluded from the failed train attacks that Germany has become a target of highly professional terrorism of the sort practiced by Al-Qaeda. Based on the currently available information, the whole affair appears rather to have been a badly prepared attack by amateurs. The state must also take measures against the latter – but in keeping a sense of proportion, please, and without unnecessarily spreading panic.


Note that Prof. Kekulé’s analysis massively contradicts the claim of August Hanning of the German Ministry of Interior, according to which, as cited in yesterday’s NYTimes: "The bombs were professionally made. It was just good fortune that the detonators didn’t work." [On Hanning and his assessment, see my previous article "Posing? (The NYTimes Displays its Ignorance about…9/11)".] This assertion was already odd – and not only because of the implausibly good fortune involved in the detonators just happening not to work in both of the allegedly "professionally made" devices. For according to the version of events otherwise given by German authorities and reproduced in the German media, the detonators in fact did work. Nonetheless, the bombs failed to go off.


[Fore further background, see "Dumb Bombs (The Alleged German Terror Plot)".]


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