London Postal Bombs

Three incendiary devices have been posted to addresses at London Heathrow Airport, London City Airport and Waterloo Mainline Railway Station. Each device was in a Jiffy bag and designed to detonate upon opening. Only one device was set off. The other two devices have been taken intact.

Police are believed to be looking for a single target and the profile indicates that they are young and/or inexperienced (i.e. this is not someone just back from Syria). This analysis is for several reasons: 1) The relative simplicity of the devices. They closely resemble plans found on the internet; 2) The payload of the devices was low and incendiary, rather than high and explosive. This indicates a desire to cause damage, but not to kill. This is neither a Unabomber nor an organised terrorist style attack; 3) The choice of targets indicates a desire to cause maximum inconvenience with minimum effort, perhaps by shutting transport hubs down when the alert is sounded. It is a way of getting “more bang for your buck” without causing significant harm; 4) The bomber has made a significant error by allowing any of the devices to be captured intact. This is a rookie move. Forensic evidence from these packages could well prove crucial. 5) Using the post as the delivery system – in recent years significant steps have been taken to aid in detection of postal bombs given previous experience e.g. Irish republican terrorism.

One other point that arises from profiling the attacker is that it would have been likely that a claim for responsibility either would have been posted with the packages or was intended subsequently. It may be that the bomber was waiting to see the effect of the bombs before claiming reponsibility and that the message may not now be sent. As one of our correspondents put it: “If you go to all this trouble and you have any sort of point to make, then you damn well want people to know it.”

Given all these factors, there is a high probability that the individual will be caught.

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