World War II Bomb Closes Berlin Rail Station

World War Two, Berlin
Berlin commuters got an unwelcome reminder of their city’s wartime past today when a bomb from World War II was discovered near the city’s main railway station.

The Hauptbahnhof was closed for several hours as bomb disposal experts dealt with the device, the BBC reports. Flights to and from Tegel airport were diverted.

The device was a 220-pound Soviet bomb and was discovered at a building site a mile north of the train station. While this may seem to be too far away to cause concern to those using the station, German bomb disposal experts are extra careful, especially after three of their number were killed while attempting to defuse a wartime bomb in Gottingen in 2010.

The bomb has now been defused and taken away. All transport has resumed.

Berlin was hit hard in World War II. As you can see from this image taken by the British army shortly after the war, the city was pretty much leveled. Nearly half a million tons of ordnance was dumped on the city and an estimated one in eight bombs didn’t go off. While most explosive devices were cleaned up in the months after the war, they’re still being uncovered on a regular basis.

Germany isn’t the only country that has to worry about wartime ordnance. In 2001, workers found a World War II grenade near Gatwick Airport in England.

Last year the BBC published an interesting interview with a German bomb disposal expert.

[Photo courtesy No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Wilkes A (Sergeant)]

Terrorist gets 15 years for JFK airport plot

JFK, JFK airport, terrorismA terrorist who plotted to blow up fuel tanks at JFK airport has been given 15 years in prison, the BBC reports. Abdel Nur, a citizen from Guyana, tried to meet an Al-Qaeda explosives expert in order to blow up JFK airport’s fuel depot, and the fuel lines that run below an adjoining neighborhood. He hoped to kill thousands in the attack.

Russell Defreitas, Kareem Ibrahim , and Abdul Kadir were also arrested. Kadir is a former member of parliament from Guyana and is now serving a life sentence. Defreitas has been found guilty and will be sentenced in February. Ibrahim’s trial is scheduled for April.

The plot was foiled when Kadir and Defreitas discussed their plans in front of an unnamed informant. This informant recorded their conversation and alerted authorities. This last detail is interesting. These radical Muslims would hardly have discussed such a plan in front of a non-Muslim. It stands to reason, then, that the informant is a Muslim. What these two nutcases didn’t understand is that most Muslims aren’t terrorists. This fact will almost certainly be lost amid the news of another “Muslim terrorist plot”.

There are no hard figures for the number of Muslims in the United States since the U.S. Census doesn’t record religion. One study by Dr. Tom W. Smith of the University of Chicago estimates the Muslim population in the U.S. at around 1.9-2.8 million. If most Muslims were terrorists, as many people believe, the U.S. would be suffering attacks every day. Luckily this is not the case. Vigilance defeats terrorists, fear and stereotyping helps them win.

[Photo courtesy Doug Letterman]

Orthodox Jew causes bomb alert by praying

bomb, bomb scare, tefillinDo these look like bombs to you? They did to the crew of a New Zealand ferry. So much so that they radioed the police, who were waiting for the man wearing them when the ferry docked. Then the armed cops forced him and a companion to the floor.

All in a day’s work fighting terror. Or not.

In fact they’re tefillin, known in English as phylacteries , and they’re an essential part of Orthodox Jewish prayer. When the man strapped these to his arm and head in order to pray, the crew thought the little boxes looked like bombs and the straps like wires. The fact that these leather boxes are only a little more than an inch to a side wasn’t enough to reassure them.

This is a perfect example of how travel leads to a more understanding world. Before I visited Israel at age 20, I’d never seen tefillin and didn’t know what they were. Call me soft on terror, but I didn’t have a panic attack the first time I saw them, either. Travel teaches you that not everything different is weird, scary, and dangerous. Perhaps the crew of the ferry should stop shuttling back and forth between Wellington and Picton and see a bit more of the world.

[Photo courtesy user Chesdovi via Wikimedia Commons]

Disruptive passenger arrested in Denver after bomb threat

A disruptive passenger was arrested at Denver International Airport this past weekend when he said he had a bomb. The passenger was late for a flight to Salt Lake City, missed the connection and left his luggage on the plane. After being “disruptive in the gate area” and making inappropriate comments,” a United Airlines spokesman told CNN, the passenger claimed he had a bomb in his bag.

This was enough to get the plane back to the gate – not to mention the bag off the plane. This was followed by an hour-long delay while the incident was investigated by the authorities.

Now, the passenger is being charged with interfering with public transportation. A trip to the Denver jail is in his future, according to the report.

[photo by cliff1066 via Flickr]

Al Qaeda Yemen connection suspected in cargo plane bomb scares

The simultaneous bomb scares in Newark, Philadelphia and London are now being linked to al Qaeda activity, according to the latest reporting from CNN. On its live blog covering the suspicious item discoveries, CNN reports, “U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the plot that caused a security scare at English and American airports on Friday.”

In Washington, a diplomat from Yemen has said the government there is opening a full investigation into the alleged bomb, adapted from a toner ink cartridge, that was discovered in the United Kingdom at East Midlands Airport.

Look for tighter security all around at airports in the United States, some of which, according to CNN, will be “visible and passengers should expect a mix of security techniques.”

[photo by redjar via Flickr]