Create a Fiendish Terrorist Plot and Win a Prize

The plot: terror. The prize: an autographed book, and a call to Hollywood. I’m serious. But not about the actuality of the plot. The point is to show the silliness of our response to terrorism has been at points. We are repeatedly caught treating the symptoms of terrorist attacks, and not the causes. We spend our national security money on random, fantastic scenarios which are infinite in number, and not on actual security.

So have a go. Here’s some inspiration: fantastic ideas, more mundane but plausible, and of course Sam’s page on how to destroy the earth for those with more grandiose dreams.

My favorites so far follow.

Play the odds:

Terrorists use unsolicited bulk e-mail (“spam”) which contain messages urging the recipient to kill everyone around them. While most people will realize the email is not genuine, a small fraction will simply take the message at face value, and go on shooting rampages.

Local flavor:

Dam The Speedboat! Pick several dams whose collapse would threaten a major metro area, canal locks, power plant intakes, etc. Any dam which trucks are forbidden on, for example. Pack explosive into a speedboat’s V-hull, creating the effect of a shaped charge. Design the boat with several large scuttling holes to flood rapidly and to orient appropriately while sinking.

Drive the boat up to the target, open the seacocks, neatly delivering a ton or more of high explosive right next to the target. Detonation on timer. For a bonus, simply tow the boat over the target, unhitch the trailer and run away, detonation on a timer with an anti-tamper detonator if someone tries to play hero and disarm it.

The ever-popular race card with ironic resonances:

Al-Qaeda recruits African islamists to blow up three of the largest megachurches in the South, leaving behind evidence it was the work of a revived cell of the Black Panthers. Meanwhile, light-skinned Persians destroy numerous black churches and the Apollo Theatre, leaving the impression it was done in retaliation, by white militias.

Then real members of these groups begin killing each other in the cities and countryside. Al Qaeda stokes the flames of conflict whenever it seems that it may subside.

Local governments assert “states’ rights” to suspend the constitution, and persecute and intern black americans. Inner-city gangs with access to high-powered weaponry assert themselves as defenders of the black community.


Well-known security commentator announces “Movie-Plot Threat Contest” on his blog.
Ideas flood in.
picks the best one and implements it.
Ah thank you!

And a grand, intricate, but well-done finale:

Balloon attack in the warn terr.
Take 30 terrorists; organize as 15 teams of 2 terrs each.

Each team is equipped with
2 man-portable cylinders of helium, with regulators
120 largish, clear balloons
10 1000′ spools of 28-gauge copper wire
2 roll of kite string
2 box cutters

Total cost much less than $500,000. Use the balance for rent, food, cars, gas money, pet dogs (see below), and lap dances.

Deploy terr teams around the country, 5 to NYC metro, 5 to LA metro, 5 to Chicago Metro. Or any other cities you don’t like.

Have each terr team scout out the corridors underneath major high voltage transmission lines. Find the major corridors with 3-7 transmission lines crammed into one narrow path. They are easy to spot, use G**gle Earth, USGS maps, or working eyesight to spot large metal towers. Walk the dog in the corridors underneath the lines. Find secluded spots.

On T-day, all 15 teams go their chosen spots, with or without dogs.

Check the wind by blowing up a few balloons and releasing them. Unroll 200′ of copper wire, perpendicular to the chosen power line, and directly beneath it, or as required to compensate for wind. Each terr blows up a balloon with helium, ties it to the ground with 5-10′ of kite string, then attaches the copper wire to the string, just under the balloon. The tethered balloons holds the wire just above the well trimmed vegetation underneath each line so it wonít be snagged.

Repeat 6 -10 times for 1 power line, moving at least 50 yards down the line for each balloon pair and wire. Then repeat for the adjacent high voltage line. Lay out 50 wires in all.

Now the terr pair ditches their heavy helium bottles and get out their box cutters. Using hand signals, they simultaneously cut the kite strings holding down one wire with a balloon on each end. They quickly move down the line to the next, and repeat.

As the wire is lifted up to the high-voltage transmission line, it causes an electrical arc. Power flows from one high-voltage wire to the next until circuit breakers open. A few seconds after they open, the circuit breakers automatically reclose. The second balloon-borne wire causes a second arc. The circuit breaker opens, closes again. The third breaker causes still another arc. The circuit breaker opens, and this time is locks open.

The attack is repeated for all the transmission lines in each corridor. In a matter of minutes, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have blackouts. When the utilities try to manually close the circuit breakers, the additional balloon-wires are already in place across the lines. They arc and the breakers trip right away.

The attackers leave the area, assembly a second kit, get in their cars, and go to the areas around the next 3 big cities they don’t like.

1) Use 30 each 1-terr teams, tether one end of each wire, and cause a line-to-ground arc instead of going for the more spectacular line-to-line. Attack 6 cities at once instead of 3. Leave lots of clear balloons and skinny wires floating near power lines, waiting for the right gust of wind to push them into the wires and cause a short circuit.

2) Ditch the balloons, the helium, the wire, the rent, and the lap dances. Buy explosives and timers and train the terrs to use them. Scout out the corridors as before. Find towers where the line takes a sharp bend, and cut the outer leg on that tower with the explosive and timer. Each terr is expected to cut one or more legs from at least 12 high-voltage towers. Extra points for getting one tower to fall across an adjacent line. Now the power systems to the targeted cities are shut down for weeks or months.

Results: Major metropolitan areas in blackout. Blackouts repeated many times as other disgruntled groups recruit terrs and repeat the attack along the 150,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines.

Voters turn out in mass and throw all the bums out of office. They’ll stand for murder, they’ll sit still for groping at airports, they’ll accept ruinous taxes and deficits, but when the power goes out, the politicians follow. Ask Gray Davis.

American culture is forever changed when the new group of politicians realizes that they don’t have long to line their wallets unless they can keep the power flowing. They canít recruit enough guards for 150,000 miles of line. They have to stop the attacks at the source. They offer peace terms to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the world. All the troops are brought home, all the foreign bases closed. The Southerners, the rednecks, the ranchers, the rich, the businessmen, and even the gun nuts are made to feel welcome in American culture and politics. The Bill of Rights is restored and politicians who don’t enforce the letter and spirit of the Constitution as originally written are rapidly and firmly replaced. Government is drastically reduced and the economy prospers. World peace is upon us.

Well, you asked for a grandiose goal!

April 4th, 2006 | Current, Security, Unbelievable

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