Saayy, nice beaver! AL-QAEDA IN PLOT TO BLOW UP BA PLANE Jan 3 2004
By Jeff Edwards
A BRITISH Airways flight to America was cancelled at the last minute yesterday because a female al-Qaeda operative planned to blow up the jet over the US capital.
FBI agents learned she planned to smuggle the bomb on board inside her body and detonate the device as the Boeing 777 flew into Washington.
The suspected plot by Osama bin Laden's fanatics was foiled with less than two hours to spare.
BA were advised to cancel flight 223 from London Heathrow at 1.15 pm. They had already checked in most of the 180 passengers. The same flight was grounded on Thursday after the US intelligence was passed on to British authorities.
A senior Scotland Yard source said the would-be bomber planned to hide up to 12 oz of plastic explosive in her vagina.
The source added: ''Smuggling a bomb on to a plane by this method is one of our worst nightmares.
''If you do not have specific information about the suspect, it would be impossible to carry out an intimate body search of every female passenger.''
He said the intelligence knew only that the attack was planned for some time ''over the holiday period''.
He said: ''She planned to go into the lavatory during the flight, remove the explosives and detonator and blow herself up.
''Because the intelligence did not identify a passenger by name, it was decided to disrupt the plot by cancelling the flights.''
BA apologised to passengers who had already been checked in for the inconvenience but did not tell them of the specific threat.
Keith Holeman, 47, trying to get home to Alabama via Washington after a holiday in the UK with his wife and children, said: ''We've been given no extra information and we don't know what we're risking.''
William Mallett, 38, his wife Cathy Lewis and their one-year-old son, Jack, of Middlesex, were also among the passengers delayed.
Mr Mallett, a transport consultant now living with his family in Arlington, Virginia, said: ''I have been telling myself if they are paying attention to this flight in particular, that is a good thing.
''But I am still nervous.'' Defence analyst Paul Beaver said there was a ''real and definite threat''.
He said: ''This is certainly unusual. The intelligence is very, very precise which is why this one flight has been cancelled.''
He said al-Qaeda was known to have cells in America and one in Europe, based either in London or Paris.
It was the third security alert in three days affecting BA223, which flies from Heathrow to Dulles International Airport in Washington.
On Wednesday, the plane was escorted in to Dulles by F-16 fighter jets and ordered to taxi to a spot far from the terminal, where the 247 passengers were detained for three hours and questioned On New Year's Day, the same flight from Heathrow Airport was cancelled.
Last night, it emerged that BA have cancelled tomorrow's flight from Heathrow to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for security reasons.