London Airplane Bomb Plotters Used eBay to Raise Funds, Built Detonators Inside AA Batteries

The British terror cell that allegedly plotted to blow up flights from London to the U.S. helped finance the operation by buying and selling items on eBay, according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News.

The intelligence update said suspect Assad Sarwar, 26, "used eBay extensively" to raise funds for the plot.  "It is believed they would sell and purchase items to make a profit to fund [the] plot."  There were no further details in the report. A spokesperson for eBay had no immediate comment.

The report says Sarwar also surfed the Internet to price and purchase supplies, including 20 liters of hydrogen peroxide bought online from a hydroponic gardening center.  Hydrogen peroxide is a critical ingredient in several types of homemade explosives.


Police say the plotters, who were arrested in August, intended to blow up as many as nine airplanes using liquid explosives disguised in sports drink bottles, in what would have been the most massive terrorist blow since Sept. 11, 2001.

According to the report, the suspects devised a chillingly effective method to conceal their detonators.  They hollowed out AA batteries and experimented with filling them with a small amount of homemade explosives and other components. Numerous AA batteries were seized at a house in High Wycombe, U.K., that investigators describe as "the bomb factory."

Video secretly recorded at that location allegedly shows two suspects at work drilling small holes in the bottom of plastic juice drinks. The update says, "They would then drain the liquid and replace this with [a homemade explosive] mixture."

The report indicates that London counterterrorism officials and police investigators are continuing to gather new evidence in the plot. By late September, at least 97 locations had been searched, and more than 14,000 separate exhibits catalogued by police.

"The enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of inquiry," Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, Peter Clarke, said in August. "The meticulous investigation of all this material will take many months. All the data will be analyzed. There will be thousands of forensic examinations and comparisons. Fingerprints, DNA, electronic data, handwriting comparisons, chemical analysis and indeed the full range of forensic disciplines will be used."

A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said it had no comment on this ABC News report.

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