Terror probe uncovers wider threat
Reuters is reporting that Scotland Yard detectives and FBI agents have discovered evidence that the terrorists who were going to blow up trans-Atlantic flights with liquid explosives also planned to carry bomb ingredients on board the flights by other means. Sources say a search of the suspects' computers, and a crime lab analysis of sticky notes found on one of their refrigerators, show that they were planning to pack explosives into candy shells made from melted-down M&M's.
"The evidence is fairly conclusive," said one senior law enforcement official. "They read the stories in the New York Times about the guy who's doing the prison art with melted M&M shells, and they figured out a way to pack bomb materials into them. It was diabolical."
Officials at major airports in the United States and Britain immediately moved to ban all M&M's from commercial aircraft, and they are actively considering banning the candies from within the airports' security zones entirely. The latest security directives prohibit plain, peanut, almond, mini, "m-amazing mini," and white chocolate varieties of the popular chocolate candy. Reese's Pieces and Skittles are also considered contraband.
According to one source close to the investigation, the terorists had color-coded the various ingredients for a bomb inside the bags of M&Ms they were planning to carry as they boarded flights between the two continents. "Red was going to be nitric acid, and green was nitrobenzene," the source said. "They weren't going to use the blue, though, because apparently one of the terrorist guys hates the blue ones."
Officials were shocked to discover that the plot involved the "white chocolate pirate pearl" M&Ms as well. "I didn't think anybody bought those, they're so gross-looking," the source was quoted as saying. "Only a fascist would eat those things."
As the Reuters report went to press, Homeland Security top brass was meeting in an emergency session to determine whether Jelly Bellies also needed to be kept off flights. "We're trying to balance security and liberty," a high-ranking White House official said. "People need to be vigilant, but they also need to go on with their lives."
The White House is blaming the Times story about the prison art for inspiring the plot. "That is one of the most irresponsible acts ever taken by a professional news organization in our country's history," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "You show melted M&Ms and a convicted felon -- you know there's going to be some kook out there who gets ideas."
Officials would not confirm or deny reports that the suspects were planning to conceal the candies in body cavities. "That would be a devastating blow to the airline industry," said Ethan Feldcamp, a professor at the Wharton School. "You think the searches at the airport are bad now -- wait until you see what you'll go through if that turns out to be the case."
Late Friday, the terror alert level was changed from melon to dandelion.