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Why build a chemistry laboratory entirely of combustible WOOD?

by 1389AD ( 83 Comments › )
Filed under Climate, Education, UK at September 15th, 2014 - 6:00 pm
'Irony Alert!' sign
Suggestion: Next time, try iron.

Daily Mail (UK): Not so carbon neutral now! New eco-friendly £15million university laboratory built out of wood goes up in flames

  • ❋ The Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry at Nottingham University caught fire at 8.30pm Friday
  • ❋ The £15million wooden structure has been completely destroyed in the blaze which needed 60 firefighters to control
  • ❋ Nottingham University held an open day for prospective undergraduates today despite the fire continuing to blaze
  • ❋ Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said they expected the fire would continue for at least another 24 hours
  • ❋ An investigation into the cause of the blaze has not yet started as the building is still too dangerous to examine
  • ❋ University Registrar Dr Paul Greatrix said the college would be working with its partners to rebuild the structure
  • ❋ At the height of the blaze people could see the flames from seven miles away across the city

Complete story, video, and photos here.

Don’t build a chem lab at home…

…or at school, or at work, unless you know what you’re doing! For some surprisingly entertaining reading, Max Gergel offers a wealth of good reasons to exercise extreme caution in the planning, construction, and setup of procedures in chemistry facilities. Derek Lowe and John D. Clark offer many more.

If you can ignore the “climate change” guff, some good science education comes from Nottingham:

https://www.youtube.com/user/numberphile/videos (Mathematics)
http://www.youtube.com/periodicvideos (Chemistry stuff)
http://www.youtube.com/sixtysymbols (Physics and astronomy)
http://www.youtube.com/DeepSkyVideos (Space stuff)
http://www.youtube.com/nottinghamscience (Science and behind the scenes)
http://www.youtube.com/foodskey (Food science)
http://www.youtube.com/BackstageScience (Big science facilities)
http://www.youtube.com/favscientist (Favourite scientists)
http://www.youtube.com/bibledex (Academic look at the Bible)
http://www.youtube.com/wordsoftheworld (Modern language and culture)
http://www.youtube.com/PhilosophyFile (Philosophy stuff)

British women led by Aqsa Mahmood running sharia police unit for ISIS in Syria

by 1389AD ( 31 Comments › )
Filed under Sharia (Islamic Law), Syria, UK at September 15th, 2014 - 7:43 am

Independent (UK) has the story:

British jihadi Aqsa Mahmood
Aqsa Mahmood

As many as 60 British women have joined an all-female sharia police unit for the Islamic State (Isis), reprimanding those who fall foul of the jihad’s strict rules.

The al-Khansaa brigade is believed to be operating in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by Isis militants and works as their Syrian headquarters.

According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the militia group was established earlier this year to help expose male activists who attempt to disguise themselves in women’s clothing to avoid detention.

A prominent figure in the police force, according to the UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), is Aqsa Mahmood, a privately-educated Glaswegian 20-year-old who fled to Syria last November.

Most of the British women who have travelled to the war torn region to fight, are between the ages of 18 and 24, the Daily Telegraph reports, a further three of whom are believed to have joined the military unit.

The ICSR says it monitors 25 British female jihadists who have left their lives in the UK to support Isis.

The brigade’s women are reportedly paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly £100), says TRAC, for duties that are not involved with acts of terror – instead insurgency operations.

They are not the only all-female brigade, either, with another – Umm Al-Rayan – also created around the same time.

Security services believe that it is likely that the women will know the true identity of ‘Jihadi John’, the Isis fighter believed to be the person responsible for the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

According to Syria Deeply, the al-Khansaa brigade has also been tasked with cracking down on civilian women who fail to abide by the ultra-strict brand of sharia law implemented by Isis, including that women be fully covered in public and be chaperoned by a male.

An Isis official in Raqqa reportedly said: “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law.

“There are only women in this brigade, and we have given them their own facilities to prevent the mixture of men and women.”

On Thursday, the parents of Ms Mahmood made an emotional plea for their daughter to return and claimed that she had “betrayed” not only them but their community and “the people of Scotland” when she left to fight.

“Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide,” her parents said.

Melanie Smith, a research associate at ICSR, said: “The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS [Islamic State] laws in the region. I believe that’s why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force.”

The identities of the other three women are current unknown, however a small contingent of female Britons have flown over to the region to fight in some capacity.

Twin 16-year-old sisters Zahra and Salma Halane left their Manchester home on 26 June to join the conflict – it is believed they married Isis militants, with terrorist chiefs investigating whether the men paid for their travel.

Muslim convert Sally Jones, a mother of two from Kent, is also believed to have fled to Isis from her life in the UK after meeting a computer hacker turned jihadi online and later marrying him.

More here.

The Religion Of Peace Strikes Again In Iraq

by Flyovercountry ( 233 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, British Islamic Jihadists, Iraq, Islam, Islamists, Syria at August 12th, 2014 - 9:00 am

In almost every forum on the web, the battle rages on, as it has since chat rooms and the quicker web based forums have existed, is Islam a religion of peace, or a religion of blood lust and savagery? Somehow, tiny Israel, no matter what the circumstance, has found herself dragged, (often times by the most tenuous examples of logical gymnastics,) into the debate. An example of this is the argument which states that the only reason why Muslims ever commit any acts of savagery, which is not inherent to their religion by the way, is because Israel exists.

Make no mistake about where I am coming from. I am solidly in the latter camp. I find it astounding that some people fail to make that obvious connection between Islam, and the acts committed by the people who practice that faith. Now it is true that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and members of every other belief cast known to man have occasionally run afoul of the law, or even the common rules of courteous behavior. That however is a far cry from what we see on a daily basis coming from the members of the Religion of Peace. It is also true that sometimes, people without economic means have also found themselves on the wrong side of the rules promoting civility most societies place on themselves. I don’t recall this picture, nor one even close to it, having come from South Central LA, Harlem, South Philadelphia, East Detroit, West Chicago, Columbus’ Central Point, East Cleveland, Washington D.C., or any other American urban nightmare.

A Christian girl beheaded by ISIS terrorists. There is no doubt that we face genocide.

That ladies and gentleman is the body of an elementary aged child who was killed in the latest Jihad Islam has waged upon civilized society. She was not accidentally caught up in a group of buildings that were carpet bombed, nor in a singular building that was bombed. She was not inadvertently hit by cross fire, a victim of being too close to a battle that she was unable to escape. She survived those unfortunate examples of grown ups being unable to get along. She instead was grabbed by a grown adult male, or perhaps a group of them, held down by at least one, and had her head cut off by a man with a scimitar who chanted “Allahu Akbar.” The entire group of savage miscreants were men who belonged to the militarized death cult Known as Islam, and further, felt that their religious texts not only condone this behavior, but in fact command it. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Take a good look at that picture, and then consider this. The hipsters on the political left are glorifying ISIS. They are calling them freedom fighters, selling and wearing t-shirts like they’d done with Che Guevara, and more importantly, are equating the deeds of these animals with Israel’s legitimate attempts to evacuate citizens in Gaza before each and every strike designed to defend herself and her children.

I don’t want to get into the debate as to whether President Obama’s current actions, ostensibly designed to deal with ISIS have been effective. Indeed my guess is that an argument can most certainly be made as to the efficacy of the recent bombing campaign loosed by the Pentagon. I’ve read reports this morning already that the Kurds have managed to retake some of the previously captured cities over run by ISIS. That’s most definitely a positive sign if true. What I will point out however is that the entire formation and subsequent anschluss by ISIS is most certainly the direct and inevitable result of President Obama’s dalliance in foreign policy, his consistent dithering, and more importantly, his complete blind and incurious eye when it comes to dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The war in Iraq had been won, and Barack Obama endeavored to lose it after the fact. He failed to achieve the rather mundane and previously considered to be automatic task of affixing his name to a Status of Forces Agreement, one that had already been drawn up and agreed to by the way by Iraq’s elected leadership. That must be what they call diplomatic smart power. Evil loves a vacuum, and the Obama foreign policy, complete with that Mattel constructed reset button has certainly left plenty of those around. As a matter of fact, that was the entire crux of the Bamster’s foreign agenda, projecting American Weakness where ever the world needed our strength. This is what happens when you throw allies under the buss and embolden enemies with praise and foreign aid. The world, most especially that part of it which resides in the Middle East, noticed that Barack Obama ordered our military to fight along side of the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically Al Qaeda, in Libya, Egypt, and in Syria. Maybe ISIS was the unexpected surprise that our Ditherer in Chief never really counted on. That does nothing to change the fact however that if it weren’t them, it would simply have been someone else. As I pointed out, evil loves a vacuum, and Barack Obama is hell bent upon creating them.

I’ll leave you with two links to the handy work of our Man Child President and his feckless foreign policy. We’ll have some more good news on this front tomorrow, in the mean time, enjoy! Elections have consequences.

click here for some good news.

click here for some more good news.

Cross Posted from Musings of a Mad Conservative.

Vice News: Rise of the Islamic State Parts I and 2

by Rodan ( 21 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Albania, Bosnia, British Islamic Jihadists, Chechnya, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Invasion, Islamic Terrorism, Islamists, Jihad, Kosovo, Sharia (Islamic Law), Special Report, Syria, Terrorism at August 8th, 2014 - 7:47 pm

Vice News was able to embed a reporter with ISIS and record this documentary.

Part 1

Part 2

ISIS continues its march

by Rodan ( 267 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, British Islamic Jihadists, Chechnya, Gaza, Hezballah, IDF, Iran, Iraq, Islamic Invasion, Islamic Supremacism, Islamists, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, NIGERIA, Syria at August 4th, 2014 - 10:02 am

ISIS continues to expand its reach in the Middle East. In Iraq they seized a major dam and several villages from Kurdish forces. In Lebanon ISIS along with their rival Nusra Font have combined to seize territory in Lebanon centered around the town of Arsal. They are now clashing with the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah.

ISLAMIC State (Isis) fighters have seized control of Iraq’s biggest dam, an oilfield and three more towns after inflicting their first major defeat on Kurdish forces since sweeping through the region in June.

Capture of the Mosul Dam after an offensive of barely 24 hours could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, sharply raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government.

[....]

sis fighters have also been involved in violent exchanges with Lebanese armed forces around a border town in a push to dislodge the biggest incursion by militants into Lebanon since Syria’s civil war began.

At least ten Lebanese soldiers have died in the fighting, which erupted after Islamist gunmen seized a local police station on Saturday in response to the arrest of their commander, security officials said.

An unknown number of militants and civilians have also been killed, and security sources say at least 16 members of Lebanon’s security forces have been taken captive.

The gunmen in Arsal include fighters linked to the Islamic State (Isis), the al Qaeda offshoot that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syria’s al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front.

ISIS and its allies are now battling on multiple fronts Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Nigeria where Boko Harram has pledges allegiance and Libya. The self describe Caliphate has shattered the Iranian led Shiite crescent and are threatening Jordan. This organization is a cancer that is spreading. ISIS believes it is reliving the 7th Century Jihad.

Is William Gladstone a model for the Republican Party?

by Speranza ( 139 Comments › )
Filed under History, UK at June 5th, 2014 - 8:00 am

It seems that William Ewart Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli (and to a certain extent Lord Salisbury) were constantly replacing each other as Prime Minister in late Victorian Britain. Both were men of great political virtues. Britain’ s mistake was to neglect her army and to give almost all of her attention to her navy. In order to deter aggression you need strong land forces.

by Max Boot

In the Saturday Wall Street Journal, John Micklethwaite and Adrian Wooldridge of the Economist had an article, based on their new book The Fourth Revolution, putting forward William Ewart Gladstone–the Grand Old Man of Victorian politics–as a role model for 21st century Republicans.

Their effort to revive Gladstone’s reputation can only be cheered by anyone interested in 19th century British politics (which I confess is one of my quirkier interests) and the proposals they put forward for improving the effectiveness of government while reducing its cost appear laudable. [.......]As a parliamentary candidate and leader of the Liberal Party, he campaigned against what he saw as the imperialist excesses of the Tories in places such as southern Africa and Afghanistan where, in the First Boer War and the Second Afghan War, respectively, Britain was then suffering embarrassing reverses.

In his campaign Gladstone laid out the principles of what was then known as a Little England policy and today would be called non-interventionism. Among his principles: “1. The first thing is to foster the strength of the Empire by just legislation and economy at home. 2. My second principle of foreign policy is this: peace. 3. In my opinion the third sound principle is this to strive to cultivate and maintain, ay, to the very uttermost, what is called the concert of Europe; to keep the Powers of Europe in union together. 4. My fourth principle is that you should avoid needless and entangling engagements.  [.......] 6. And that sixth (principle) is, that in my opinion foreign policy, subject to all the limitations that I have described, the foreign policy of England should always be inspired by the love of freedom.”

Gladstone was certainly no isolationist. He criticized the Tories for not doing more about the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of Christians in Bulgaria, and as prime minister he oversaw the virtual annexation of Egypt in 1882.  [......]

No matter how much Disraeli and Gladstone, in particular, were often ranged against each other on matters of policy both domestic and foreign, they shared in the Victorian consensus that Britain needed to keep defense spending low so as not to be a burden on the people’s purses or liberties. Britain spent enough to maintain the world’s largest navy but even its naval hegemony was increasingly challenged by a German naval buildup in the early 20th century. Meanwhile the British army remained tiny, fit only for imperial campaigning.

This was all part of a strategy that today is called “offshore balancing”: British policymakers vowed they could safeguard their interests by controlling the seas without having to intervene in a major land war in Europe. This is the same strategy that many urge on the U.S. today–in fact a strategy that the Obama administration seems to be implementing as we downsize our army to the lowest level since 1940. Yet all it takes is a passing familiarity with British history to see how delusional and self-destructive this policy can be.

The very fact that Britain lacked an army capable of fighting the armies of Europe meant that Britain was unable to deter German aggression in either 1914 or 1939. Indeed the British aversion to land warfare called into doubt its commitments to allies such as Belgium and France and led German militarists to gamble they could overrun Europe without major hindrance from London. In the event, the German calculation was wrong–Britain’s entry into both World War I and World War II was a key obstacle to German designs.  [.......]

Worried about spending too much on defense, the Victorians and their successors spent too little, and wound up having their country and their empire bled dry in conflagrations that might have been avoided if Britain had done more to defend itself and its allies. There is an important lesson here for present-day Republicans who focus only on reducing the size of government. They should not forget that government’s first duty is to defend the country and if it is unable to do that–or even if it is able to do so but only after a long, costly struggle that might have been avoided–then short-term cost savings on defense will prove ephemeral. In the end military weakness is far more costly than military strength. That was a lesson that Gladstone and other Victorian titans ignored and that their would-be successors should heed.

Read the rest – Is Gladstone a model for the GOP?

We’re All Racists Now!

by coldwarrior ( 43 Comments › )
Filed under Bigotry, Economy, government, Islam, Open thread, Politics, Progressives, Racism, UK at May 29th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

It was, after all, just a matter of time!

RAAAAACIST!

 

Are we all racist now?

As a survey of British social attitudes reveals a shocking upturn in prejudice, Allison Pearson argues that the political elite’s desire to advance multiculturalism with mass immigration has backfired

With impeccable timing, the children chose Mother’s Day lunch to tell their grandmother she was racist. And what vile abuse had my poor mother bandied about? She had asked her grandson if his choir sang Negro spirituals.

“Raaaa-cisst,” chorused my junior Thought Police with more than a hint of witchfinder glee.

“I’m not racist,” said my mother, clearly shocked. “What did I say that was racist?”

“You’re not allowed to call them Negro spirituals any more,” my Daughter informed her.

“What do you call them, then?” asked Grandma.

“African-American spirituals,” announced Daughter, a creature of such impeccable liberal certitude that she makes Nick Clegg look like Oswald Mosley.

“People of Colour spirituals,” hazarded the Boy. He obviously didn’t have a clue, but was enjoying his generation’s favourite baiting game: More Politically Correct Than Thou.

“Grandma is not racist,” said Himself. “Heinrich Himmler is a racist. Grandma, not so much.”

“Who’s Henry Himmer?” asked the Boy.

“Heinrich HIMMLER,” said Himself, “was a foul, Jew-exterminating, Nazi fiend whom your grandmother’s parents and their whole generation fought a world war to defeat in order that she could sit here 70 years later and be called racist by her sanctimonious and ungrateful grandchildren. Anyone for crumble?”

When my mum had gone for a nap, I explained to the kids that racism was not as black and white as they seemed to think. During their grandmother’s lifetime, the UK had seen vast social changes. Certain words once in common usage were now regarded as toxic, and rightly so. I blenched to think that, as a child myself, I went down the “Paki” shop to get some Blackjacks (inky toffees in a wrapper decorated with the faces of, then unremarkable, golliwogs). Miss Leyshon, my lovely primary school teacher, taught us to count with the help of three toys, Teddy, Dolly and Golly. In 2014, she would be considered guilty of inciting racial hatred.

I told the kids that, over the past 15 years, my mother’s town in South Wales had seen a huge influx of Eastern Europeans. It was possible for Grandma and her friends to note that the character of their birthplace had changed, and express some unease about it, but also for them to enthuse about their excellent Romanian dentist. Tolerance was not a one-way street. Tolerance meant treating elderly people who used outdated language with understanding, not finger-pointing and yelling “Raaa-cisst!” Real racism – the ugly, frightening, visceral kind – would flourish if people’s tolerance was taken for granted, and their communities changed too fast without any regard for the consequences.

That was two months ago, and I wish I were more surprised to learn that a new British Social Attitudes survey has found that more than a third of Britons admit they are racially prejudiced. Prejudice fell to an all-time low in 2001, but the latest figures show that the problem has returned to the level of 30 years ago. More than 90 per cent of those who say they are racist want to see immigration halted. More interestingly, 72 per cent of those who do not consider themselves racist also want to see immigration cut drastically.

As shell-shocked politicians from the main parties struggle to discern the causes of Ukip’s deafening electoral success, here’s a tip: look in the mirror, chaps! It is politicians, not the British people, who are to blame for a resurgence in racism; politicians who have ignored public opinion and created the conditions in which resentments fester and grow. Specifically, though not exclusively, it is New Labour who welcomed workers from the new, accession countries of the EU at a time when countries such as France and Germany wisely exercised their right to keep them out for another seven years. According to Jack Straw, this was a “spectacular” error. And Jack should know, because he was Home Secretary at the time. The plan of Tony Blair’s government, as laid bare by Andrew Neather, then a Blair speechwriter, was to banish that old, hideously white, retrograde England and usher in a new, vibrant, multicultural country which, rather conveniently, would vote Labour. Mr Blair now works in international conflict resolution, having stored up enough conflict in his homeland to keep future generations busy for centuries.

You bigoted xenophobic nazis can read the rest here.

John Kerry insults France, UK, Canada, Israel in one speech

by Speranza ( 4 Comments › )
Filed under Canada, France, Headlines, Islamists, Israel, John Kerry, Syria, UK at May 26th, 2014 - 7:36 am

This clown came very close to being president in 2004.

by Daniel Greenfield

The State Department repeatedly refused to name Boko Haram a terrorist organization, urged the government to pursue appeasement policies and even threatened the Nigerian government for daring to fight them.

Now Kerry is beating his sunken chest while insulting a whole bunch of other countries.

The United States is alone in helping Nigeria locate more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamists, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, despite help on the ground from Britain, France and Israel

“Boko Haram, Nigeria, only the United States is there offering the assistance to help find those young women,” Kerry said during a dinner at the State Department.

“Other countries not only aren’t they invited, but they didn’t even offer. That’s a difference, and I think it’s a difference worth dwelling on.”

However the United States is joined in Nigeria by Britain, France and Israel, which have sent their own experts. China, which saw 10 citizens likely abducted by Boko Haram in a region bordering Cameroon, has also proposed to help.

Also Canada appears to have sent some support.

The Canadian government announced more than two weeks ago that it was sending surveillance equipment and personnel to Nigeria to help search for the schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram extremists. It later emerged that Canada was also sending special forces’ soldiers as further support.

Then in a stunning betrayal, Kerry lashed out at his own homeland.

In his speech, Kerry also lashed out at France, whose Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has expressed regret that the United States did not attack Syria a year ago amid spiraling violence in the conflict there.

“People are angry because we did not strike Syria at one instance but guess what: Today, 92 percent of all the chemical weapons in Syria are out and being destroyed and the other eight percent will get out,” a visibly angry Kerry said, without mentioning France specifically.

“That never would have occurred otherwise.”

It hasn’t occurred anyway. Anyone who thinks that Syria has given up the majority of its chemical weapons is… well John Kerry.

The UK is not exactly thrilled with the snub. The French enjoy diplomatic fights with the US. And the Israelis couldn’t possibly hate Kerry anymore. But there is something strange about Kerry using a State Department dinner to demonstrate the opposite of diplomacy.

It’s the kind of thing Democrats expected from Bush.

 

British Jews vote Tory because they are rich, according to “Red” Ken Livingstone

by Speranza ( 12 Comments › )
Filed under Anti-semitism, Headlines, Judaism, UK at May 8th, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Red Ken Livingstone is an appalling person but then again Britain is loaded with people who think just as he does.

by Christopher Hope

British Jews have switched their support from Labour to Conservative because they have got richer, according to a Labour politician.

Ken Livingstone, a former Labour MP and Mayor of London, said that income rather than skin colour was the reason why people voted for different political parties

Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Tuesday night, he said: “People vote according to their income. Now that can change – it might be a generation before people catch up.

“If we were talking 50 years ago, the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community was solidly Labour. Still the Irish Catholic community is pretty still solidly Labour because it is not terribly rich.

“As the Jewish community got richer, it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher as they did in Finchley.”

Mr Livingstone was discussing how politicians can do more to appeal to the growing proportion of Britons who have an ethnic minority background.

He said: “People come to Britain to become part of Britain, they don’t come to change it. I think the defining issue is not your colour or your religition it is your level of income.”

Referring to Sajid Javid, who was recently made Culture secretary, he continued: “David Cameron has just appointed the first British person of Pakistani origin – I look at him and I don’t see a Pakistani, I see a banker who earned £3million a year. That is why he is in the Tory party.”

The comments were dismissed by Adrian Cohen, chairman of the London Jewish forum.

Mr Cohen said: “Ken Livingstone last made comments to this effect during the Mayoral election. It’s pretty obvious that politicians shouldn’t write off parts of the electorate based on crude assumptions about their perceived relative affluence.

“Many Jews are not rich, indeed many struggle to make ends meet. In any event there are many factors which influence how a person chooses to vote and one shouldn’t refer to Jewish Londoners as if they were homogeneous.”

How the only pilot to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, did it

by Speranza ( 109 Comments › )
Filed under Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, UK at April 4th, 2014 - 7:00 am

As two commenters wrote The best lesson to be learned from this hero: “As long as you know you’re not going to allow it to happen, then you’ll find the way.”  and That reminds me of Hannibal’s line: We will find a way or we will make one.” Is any one surprised that the British authorities treated the crew of the El Al plane almost as if they were the  criminals?

by Mitch Ginsburg

With the world’s attention focused on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a retired El Al pilot, a veteran of five armed hijacking attempts and plots, including one movie-worthy standoff at 29,000 feet, splashed some local brandy into his afternoon tea.

“When you don’t know, you just don’t know,” Uri Bar-Lev said of the fate of the airliner, speaking two weeks after it dropped off the radar.

 [......]

The Times of Israel mentioned the missing plane and hinted at his heroics. We said there might be a lesson to be learned or simply a tale worth re-telling.  [......]

On September 6, 1970, Bar-Lev, who had flown as a 16-year-old in the 1948 War of Independence and later during the 1956 War, was picked up from his Amsterdam hotel and brought to Schiphol airport to fly the second leg of El Al Flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York. Before take-off, El Al’s security officer on duty at the airport told the pilot that there were four suspicious people seeking to board the flight. Two held Senegalese passports with consecutive numbers; two others, a couple, carried less suspicious looking Honduran passports, but all had ordered their tickets at the last minute.

Bar-Lev, in consultation with the security officer, barred the Senegalese passengers from boarding and demanded that the local security officers closely inspect the two Honduran nationals before allowing them to board.

Although at the time he did not know that no such inspection had been performed, he stopped at seat 2C and had a chat with Avihu Kol, one of the two armed security officers on the plane. “I told him, I want you in the cockpit with me,” Bar-Lev said.

Kol was alone in first class. He might as well have been wearing a sign that said air marshal. “Someone could just come up behind him and shoot him in the head,” Bar-Lev said, recalling that Kol had warned him about just such a scenario two weeks before.

[.......]Yet El Al was the only airline in the world to field armed guards and re-enforced steel cockpit doors — precautions that had been put in place after the 1968 hijacking of an El Al jet to Algeria, the only time Israel’s national carrier has been hijacked. Kol, though, initially resisted Bar-Lev’s demand that he sit in the cockpit, saying it contradicted his orders. Finally, Bar-Lev pulled rank.

At 29,000 feet, with the plane still climbing, the emergency light flashed in the cockpit. False alarm, one of the crew members said. It happened often. Flight attendants sometimes grazed against the warning panels, sounding the alarm. “No,” Bar-Lev responded, “we’re being hijacked.”

Seconds later a flight attendant’s voice came through the intercom: two people, armed with a gun and two grenades, wanted to enter the cockpit. If he didn’t open the door, they would blow up the plane.

Bar-Lev sent flight engineer Uri Zach to look through the peep hole. The “Honduran” man, Nicaraguan-American Sandinista supporter Patrick Argüello, a former Fulbright scholar operating on behalf of George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was holding a gun to a female flight attendant’s head. Uri, she said to the pilot through the locked door, they are going to kill me if you don’t open up.

According to the International Air Transport Association rules, Bar-Lev said, a pilot is responsible “for the welfare of his passengers” and therefore must acquiesce to the demands of terrorists. His thinking was just the opposite: acceding will only further endanger the passengers. Giving voice to an unformed thought, he said aloud, “We are not going to be taken hostage.”

Sitting in the right-hand seat, having let the co-pilot handle the take-off from Amsterdam, Bar-Lev recalled his mandatory training on the Boeing 707 at the company headquarters several years earlier.  [......] He wanted to know the outer limits of the plane’s capacity. The instructor, a Korean War vet, walked him through some of the maneuvers and explained that the passenger plane was very strong and could endure more than it would seem at first glance.

The plane began to plummet, dropping 10,000 feet in a minute

Bar-Lev told Kol, the air marshal, to hold on tight. He was going to throw the plane into a dive. The negative g-force, akin to the feeling one gets on the downhill section of a roller coaster ride, would accomplish two things: it would lower the plane’s altitude, reducing the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the plane, which would make a bullet hole or a grenade explosion less dangerous; and it would throw the hijackers off their feet. The passengers, he said, were all belted in and would be fine.

Bar-Lev lifted the nose of the aircraft, dipped one of the wings, and then tilted the nose down to earth. The plane began to plummet, dropping 10,000 feet in a minute. When he pulled out of the dive, Kol charged through the door and killed Argüello.

The second terrorist, Leila Khaled, a Palestinian veteran of previous skyjackings, rolled a grenade forward but it didn’t explode. In her memoir, Bar-Lev said, Khaled claimed to have been violently subdued, but the air marshals found her passed out from the dive and quickly arrested her.

“The whole thing took two and a half minutes,” Bar-Lev said.

A photo of the two airliners that were hijacked and flown to Jordan on that September 6, 1970 (photo credit: wiki)

But it was far from over. Three other planes, in what Bar-Lev called a more complex attack than 9-11, had been hijacked. The two men carrying Senegalese passports had commandeered a Pan Am flight and flown it to Egypt. TWA and Swiss Air flights were flown to Jordan. The Shin Bet, via an El Al dispatcher, sent Bar-Lev a terse command: About face. Come home.

On board he had two armed Shin Bet officers — Kol, and a second agent who was at the back of the plane — plus a dead man and an internationally wanted terrorist. Pivotally, though, he also learned that Shlomo Vider, the chief flight attendant, had charged the hijackers and been shot several times. Before responding to the Shin Bet’s orders – Bar-Lev didn’t know and wasn’t told about the other hijackings – he called for a doctor to come forward and examine Vider. The most qualified person was a dentist. He ruled that Vider was in stable condition. “I didn’t think so, though,” said Bar-Lev. Vider was pale and though he had been shot, he didn’t seem to be bleeding out, raising concerns about internal bleeding.

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Headquarters again ordered him to return to Israel, but Bar-Lev contacted the British authorities and began to descend. En route, he heard the voice of an El Al pilot preparing to take off from Heathrow to Israel. “I told him to switch to the internal frequency,” Bar-Lev said.

Speaking quickly and in Hebrew, he told the other pilot the situation and the plan: he would land near him. In the commotion, no one would notice if the two armed Shin Bet marshals slipped through the flight engineer’s maintenance door between the wheels and quickly boarded the Israel-bound plane in the same way. The last thing he needed was for the two to be arrested by the local authorities and possibly charged for killing Argüello.

He insisted that he had simply flown the plane throughout and did not know how the Nicaraguan terrorist had died

Bar-Lev had good reason for concern. In February 1969 a Shin Bet air marshal named Mordechai Rachamim had fought off a squad of terrorists attacking an El Al plane in Zurich. After jumping out of the airplane door under fire, apprehending three of the terrorists and killing the fourth, the Swiss authorities, before finally exonerating him, first put him on trial for manslaughter.

After Bar-Lev slowed the plane to a stop, the crew welcomed an emergency British medical team on board. Vider, he later learned, reached the local hospital an estimated five minutes from death. But when Bar-Lev tried to close the door and head back to Tel Aviv, several armed agents from the British secret services drew their sidearms and said, “Do not shut that door. You are on the soil of Great Britain.”

Bar-Lev and the rest of the crew were taken for interrogation. Asked what he told the British authorities, he said, “I told them nothing.” He insisted that he had simply flown the plane throughout and did not know how the Nicaraguan terrorist had died.

An El Al security officer, in the meanwhile, printed tickets for the two Shin Bet air marshals who had slipped onto the Israel-bound flight and, after going through the passenger list repeatedly, the British authorities were forced to let the plane take off.

Bar-Lev and the crew were released the following day. The British authorities knew they were lying but could find no proof. Leila Khaled remained in the United Kingdom. She was let out of British custody three weeks later, after a British jet was hijacked on September 9, en route from Bahrain, expressly in order to secure her release.

For Bar-Lev, though, the ordeal was still not over. Upon return to Israel, a man he did not recognize took him into a side room and began asking questions: Why had he insisted on bringing the sky marshal into the cockpit? Why had he refused a direct order to return to Tel Aviv? Why had he dismissed the dentist’s assessment?

The next day, El Al Director General Mordechai Ben-Ari told him that the Shin Bet would not provide security for Israel’s national air carrier so long as he remained an active pilot. Ben-Ari tried to convince him to take a year off, to pacify the Shin Bet, and then return to service.

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He phoned Golda Meir and asked to explain his side of the story. After giving his version of events to Meir, Moshe Dayan and the head of the Shin Bet at the time, he was given a two-week holiday and then reinstated, with honors for bravery.

Several months after that, then-transportation minister Shimon Peres helped pass a new law that gave pilots the right to resist hijackings and immunity against foreign lawsuits, such as the one Pan Am filed against Bar-Lev for not alerting the airline to the danger posed by the two Senegalese men and the one the British authorities briefly pursued – to charge Bar-Lev as an accomplice to murder.

Today, though, he said, despite the thousands of deaths caused by airline terror since that day in September 1970, there is still not a consensus among airlines that pilots are part of the inner circle of protection against terror. Lamenting the tragedy of 9/11, and the way 2,977 innocent people were killed by 19 hijackers wielding household objects such as penknives, he said the “formula for prevention” is for the crew to be trained, in mind more than in body, to resist.

“As long as you know you’re not going to allow it to happen, then you’ll find the way,” he said.

Read the rest – How to thwart a gunman at 29,000 feet, by the only pilot who ever did