Sunday, 3 November 2013

Analysis: Explosives in Western Australia, Revelations of Embassy Spying.


First, the Der Spiegel revelation that Australian embassies in Asian countries have been used for spying ops by the NSA. It's a move that seems designed to achieve several goals. Australia is collateral damage.

What does it achieve? Well, consider the timing. The States have just shown their disharmony and apparent dysfunction to the whole world. China has been watching, and apparently they are emboldened to make public their plans to nuke the States. Allegations that NSA used Aussie embassies to conduct spy ops from, just gives another reason for them to pick a fight.

Its other purpose is to slap a media manipulator where it hurts. No big secret that it was most likely only due to the support of Murdoch's media that Abbott got into power. Murdoch's "Little Tony" is a standing joke in Australia. And no matter that it was Labor in power (or even as far back as the last Liberal government) at the time these alleged spy ops took place, it's the current government that will bear the brunt and the ire.

Der Spiegel is not a Murdoch property. They have no reason to like the States, or Murdoch, or Abbott. Australia will just be collateral damage, and in fact if we wanted to be shut of the Mad Monk then they are ironically one of our best allies.

Also, in regard to Mr Hockey raising the debt ceiling. That might be to show China that we're tough and can afford to borrow high. Maybe we're playing a game of bluff to look like a less soft target.

Now the second thing, explosives found a few hundred kilometres south of Perth in Western Australia. Police initially presumed that the crystalline substance was to be used to make drugs, and drove it back to Perth to their labs, where it was discovered not to be a precursor because a careless officer got acid burns from not using gloves to handle it.

This sends up a few flags. First, the packages were found in a bay, implying that it was in the water. This is borne out by the fact that police divers then went along with dogs and men on foot to clear the area. Was this going out or coming in? Important distinction...

Secondly, there were two packages, the second one found after they wised up to what the first one was. The amount quoted in the news is 3kg but it's not clear if this was per package or in total. It's the difference between one backpack bomb and three, so it's kind of important.

Third, why was the substance not properly tested at the scene - I presume there are tests that should be carried out? If the Police went to that location expecting to find drug precursors or drugs, then it's a safe bet that there were actually also drugs moving through that area, which makes it a bit of a hotspot, and the Police a bit slapdash in the execution of their duties.

The substance was identified at TATP (also known as TCAP) and this is something you can make in a garage with a handful of chemicals and a good ice bath. It's also pretty unstable so you wouldn't want to transport it around too much.

It's a terrorist explosive of choice because it's so easy to manufacture, so it is probably connected to terrorist activities. But that creates another question - why Western Australia? The population density makes it highly unlikely that one or even three IEDs would produce as large a statement as most terrorist organisations would like. It's not newsworthy and there are few historic landmarks to blow up.

It does however make it appear as though the explosive might be related to political situation, perhaps a response to the recent actions of the government against boat people. If that's the case, I suspect that rather than civvie terrorists, these could be the actions of the military of a nation we have ties with.

It could also be in response to the embassy spy ops allegations. But actions like this will definitely hurt the current government, and perhaps picking a low-value target like that is meant to send a message.

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