Whether Bomb ingredients easy to buy?
Chemicals sitting in anyone''s bathroom at home could be used to make an easily smuggled bomb that would badly damage a passenger jet, a danger experts have been warning about for years.The difficult part, experts say, is putting together such a bomb without blowing yourself up.British police said they had foiled a plot to blow up aircraft flying between Britain and the United States, prompting US and British authorities to ban liquids, including drinks, hair gels and lotions, from carry-on baggage."My hunch is that the reason they are prohibiting this stuff is that it does obviously have the potential of being assembled on board so that it doesn''t look like a bomb going through the X-ray machine," said Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who helped write a government report on explosives threats to airlines.Such mundane items as nail polish remover, disinfectants and hair colouring contain chemicals that when combined, can cause an explosion. The chemicals are not detectable by "sniffing" machines which detect plastic explosives.The explosive ingredients can be concealed in bottles or other innocent-looking containers that would pass through X-ray machines.That does not mean they are easy to make into bombs, cautioned Neal Langerman, a San Diego consultant who is a former chairman of the American Chemical Society''s Division of Chemical Health and Safety."Many of the ingredients like acetone are household chemicals," Mr Langerman said.But Mr Langerman said some kind of expertise is usually needed to buy peroxide that is concentrated enough to work in an explosive.Bombers who attacked London Underground trains and a bus in July 2005 used homemade peroxide-based explosives carried in backpacks.An explosive chemical called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, can be put together using common domestic products."I would doubt that the average layperson would successfully make TATP without killing themselves," Mr Langerman said.TATP starts out as a liquid that crystalises into a white powder. "When they mix it, it detonates," Mr Langerman said."When you do that at 25,000 feet in the middle of the Atlantic, you and everybody else die."The voltage from any battery, combined with the right detonator, such as a powerful camera flash attachment, could act as a detonator for several chemical explosives, Mr Langerman said.Some combinations can be set off using another chemical such as hydrochloric acid, easily carried in a small glass bottle.Nitroglycerin, a clear yellow or colourless liquid, can produce an explosion with vigorous shaking.People have tried several times to use such easily concealed explosives on aircraft. British-born Richard Reid was tackled by passengers in December 2001 while trying to detonate explosives stuffed in his shoes.In 1994, Islamic fundamentalists set off liquid explosives on a Japan-bound Philippine Airlines plane, killing a Japanese passenger and injuring 10 others.Mark Ensalaco, an international terrorism expert at the University of Dayton in Ohio, said the foiled operation appeared to be identical to the Japan attack.
Oklahoma City Bomb Ingredients Remain Unrestricted
Despite the Oklahoma City bombing nearly a decade ago and repeated warnings from terrorism experts, the government has yet to follow up on a recommendation that buyers of ammonium nitrate fertilizer be required to show ID.
The danger became clear in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh used 4,800 pounds of the common farm fertilizer to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people. The same chemical was used in the October 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202 people in Bali and has been used in other terrorist attacks around the world, some attributed to al-Qaida. In 1998, a National Academy of Sciences panel of scientists and security experts recommended that Congress require that buyers of ammonium nitrate prodentification and that stores keep records of the purchases. But a law was never passed. Fertilizer industry officials say farm-store employees already know their customers and would be suspicious of unexplained sales of ammonium nitrate. And farm organizations have lobbied against the restrictions. As a result, fertilizer sales remain unrestricted across much of the United States, even in the climate of caution since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At BB&P Grain Handlers on the main strip of this small town, customers can still buy enough ammonium nitrate at $240 a ton to blow up an office building. Several members of the expert panel, and officials with the fertilizer industry, said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has continued to press for the regulation. ATF spokeswoman Sheree Mixell would not say whether the 1998 recommendation was still being pursued. "Obviously terrorism is a concern of all of ours, and these chemicals can be a tool for terrorists," Mixell said. But she added: "A lot of these chemicals have a viable use that is not terrorist by definition." "We have to be very careful that our industry partners conduct business as needed for the betterment of society, but balance that with the potential misuses of these chemicals that can be dangerous," she said. Only South Carolina and Nevada require ID and track purchases of ammonium nitrate. In the rest of the country, the fertilizer industry''s voluntary safety program warns sellers to beware of a customer who "avoids eye contact" or "doesn''t know much about farming. Instructions for turning it into a bomb are available on the Internet, and increasingly, countries in Europe and other parts of the world are clamping down on its sale. Other fertilizers that do not have as much explosive potential are available to farmers. More than 1.5 million tons of ammonium nitrate was sold in the United States in 2003.