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The peroxide and fruit drink plan to down seven airliners

UK liquid bomb trial begins

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The trial of eight British men accused of plotting to blow up seven airliners using liquid explosives began yesterday at Woolwich Crown Court, where prosecutor Peter Wright QC laid out details of their alleged plan. Using a home made liquid explosive mixture concealed in soft drinks containers the accused intended to set off the explosions when all the aircraft were at high altitude, he said, causing thousands of casualties.

The prosecution claimed that the explosive was planned to consist of hydrogen peroxide mixed with a powdered version of the fruit drink Tang. The addition of Tang, "which is an energetic compound", would aid detonation, said Wright. He claimed that the mixture was intended to be dyed to match the colour of a soft drink, then substituted for the contents of 500ml bottles of Lucozade and Oasis. The original contents of these would be extracted without breaking the seal by means of a syringe, and the resulting hole in the base of the bottle sealed with superglue.

The jury was told that the bombs were to have been detonated using hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), an explosive compound prepared using hydrogen peroxide and hexamine. This mix would be concealed in hollowed out batteries, and put together with the liquid explosives and a power source, possibly a disposable camera, once the flight was airborne.

A diary which Wright said was found on one of the accused gave details of the planning. "Mouthwash, blue, red. Calculate exact drops of Tang, plus colour. Make in HP." And: "Lucozade, red, 1.5 drops, one teaspoon Tang, one teaspoon orange, 12 drops. Oasis, red. On, red dye. Orange, two times mango."

The men were arrested in August 2006 leading to a worldwide clamp-down on liquids in carry-on baggage, with the ban initially extending even to jam sandwiches, and leading to debates over the relative explosive capabilities of hard and soft cheeses.

Hydrogen peroxide is readily available in dilute form, which can with some effort be converted to a more concentrated form viable in explosive mixtures. Tang, meanwhile, is available in liquid and powdered form, and is a fruit drink made by Kraft.

The trial continues, and is expected to last six to eight months. ®

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