|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
British authorities said Thursday that they had thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up multiple airliners traveling between Britain and the United States, creating "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."
The police said they had arrested 21 people in connection with the plot, which apparently involved plans to smuggle explosives onto aircraft in hand luggage. In response, flights into London Heathrow Airport were canceled and airlines banned hand luggage on departing planes, causing chaos and long delays.
The police did not identify the suspects or their origin, though Paul Stephenson, the deputy metropolitan police commissioner for London, said "community leaders" had been alerted about the police action, using a code word for the British Muslim community.
The authorities did not say how many aircraft had been identified for attack. Sky News put the number at six, while other reports said between three and 10.
"We think this was an extraordinarily serious plot and we are confident that we have stopped an attempt to create mass murder on an unimaginable scale," Stephenson told reporters at Scotland Yard.
He said the people had been arrested in and near London and Birmingham, and added that the searches would continue.
"We believe that these arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," Michael Chertoff, the U.S. homeland security secretary, told reporters.