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Industry News & Updates

Liquid Peroxide Bombs May Be the New Weapon of Choice for Terrorists

AI Publication - September 11, 2008
By Chris Boylan, American Innovations, Inc.

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A new emerging threat explosive has the potential, in the hands of terrorist bombers, to produce the most devastating acts of terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As the recent trial of eight defendants in London, charged with conspiracy to commit murder by blowing up passenger planes in flight demonstrates, hydrogen peroxide bombs are one of the most insidious, dangerous and easy to create improvised explosive devices to emerge in years.

In August of 2006, intelligence sources from Britain’s MI5, the Metropolitan Police and other forces discovered a plot by a group of men in London who, inspired by al-Qaeda in Pakistan, planned to cause mass casualties, mass chaos and hysteria on the order of that created on 9/11/01 by blowing up several aircrafts in flight. Their weapon? Liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks and simple homemade detonation devices the group knew would get through airport security checkpoints. The devices were to be made of readily available hydrogen peroxide which was then colored, concentrated, mixed with a common drink powder and secreted inside standard soft-drink bottles, hollowed-out batteries containing a small amount of explosives which would serve as detonators, and a disposable camera to provide an ignition source. The improvised explosives devices were designed in such a way that they could be easily assembled and detonated on board while the flight was underway.

The revelation of this plot and the resulting arrests caused chaos at airports across the country, and spread to security at airports across the globe. As the knowledge of this simple, homemade yet highly effective and impossible to detect Improvised Explosive Device (IED) reached security agencies around the world, measures had to be devised to confront this new threat. The U.S Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration responded by introducing the now well-known “3-1-1” rule restricting liquids carried onto aircraft to bottles no more than 3 oz in capacity, in one quart size zip lock bag, and one bag per passenger. This response was designed to limit the ability to carry out this threat, even though it could not truly eliminate it since no technology was deployed in airports to detect liquid explosives.

By mid 2007, American Innovations, Inc. introduced the XD-2i portable explosives detector, which could accurately and quickly detect and identify the full range of commercial, military and homemade explosives, but which could do so whether the sample was dry, wet or liquid, to include peroxide based explosives TATP, HMTD and liquid hydrogen peroxide , all in a single sample. The system is extremely easy to operate, regardless of operational environment or user experience. Extensive and ongoing testing of this portable explosives detector have verified its ability to detect hydrogen peroxide, peroxide based explosives, and many other explosives threats being faced by soldiers and civilian law enforcement agencies.

It is only more recently that the security world and the general public have learned the details of this heinous plot through media coverage of the trial of the seven men charged in the crime. Excerpts of some of these news accounts are attached below for review. The magnitude of the threat and the relentless commitment of the enemy to devise ever more clever, insidious and horrible new ways of inflicting death and destruction cannot be underestimated. Our commitment to meeting these threats must be no less relentless.

The XD-2i meets today’s threats and emerging threats to ensure the safety of our brave men and women on the front lines, and the security of peace-loving people all over the globe.

News Accounts of the London Trial of 7 would-be terrorists:
From the NY Times:
“…Assad Sarwar, 28, a college dropout who learned how to make the liquid hydrogen peroxide bomb in Pakistan; and Tanvir Hussain, 27, who helped in the purchase of materials and in making the suicide videos. The defendants planned to drain 17-ounce plastic sports drink bottles by puncturing a tiny hole in the bottom, prosecutors said, then refilling the bottles with an explosive mix of concentrated hydrogen peroxide and food coloring to give the appearance of the original beverage….”
From the redOrbit Knowledge Network:
“...Sarwar, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Hussain, 27, were key figures, used for buying the equipment needed to made the liquid explosive – fashioned from a powdered soft drink mixture and hydrogen peroxide hair bleach – and a second more powerful explosive to be used as a detonator. The bombs were to be disguised in 500ml Lucozade and Oasis bottles...”
From the London Guardian News:
The devices...
The accused planned to use household and everyday items that would appear innocent, the jury heard. Leaving little to chance, the alleged terrorists planned to pack pornographic magazines in their hand luggage to distract airport security staff, Wright said. The diary found on Ali when he was arrested showed planning for the coordinated attacks on civilian aircraft, the court heard. One extract read to the jury said: "Select date. Five days B4 [text speak]. All link up. Prepare. Dirty mag to distract. Condoms. One drink used, other keep in pocket maybe will not get through machine, plus keys and chewing gum on the D in the elec device. Keep ciggies. Cameras take. The drinks that you should drink should be dif flava."
Soft drinks containers were key to the plot. Bottles of Lucozade and Oasis would have their original contents removed via a syringe, and replaced with a homemade liquid explosive.
A dye would be added so they appeared to be the same colour as the original drink, the prosecution alleged.
To airport security they would also appear unopened, with the alleged terrorists having plunged a syringe through a moulding point in the bottom of the bottle.
Wright told the jury: "What it was proposed would be done in this case would be that the men would drill a small hole in the base of each of the injection moulding points.
"The original content, laborious though it would be, would then be removed and the ready-mixed liquid explosive introduced, using a hypodermic or syringe in order to achieve that particular exercise. The base would then be re-sealed using a glue, superglue or similar product, that would then create a liquid-proof repair within the moulding point and also the top of the bottle would therefore appear factory-sealed, creating the illusion that it was unopened, innocent and an everyday item."
The liquid explosive, which can be made from commonly available items, was to be mixed with a powdered fruit drink called Tang.
The Tang would help in creating the explosion, Wright said.
"When Tang, which is an energetic compound, because of the material from which it is made ... is combined ... it is capable of creating an energetic mixture that can be detonated. "It is the crown's case that what the bombers intended to do was to carry [the mixture] ... on to the aircraft in their hand luggage, disguised as 500ml bottles of Oasis or Lucozade-type drink, soft drink." The liquid explosive would need to be detonated, and the crown say a specific chemical would have been used.
Evading security...
It would be disguised in hollowed-out AA batteries, which the alleged terrorists' research showed would be allowed on the plane in their hand luggage.
Wright told the prosecution how all the various pieces would fit together to make a bomb: "The adapted battery would then be plugged using a foam disc or some such similar object. The electric element, with tail leads, such as an adapted miniature light bulb or similar heat source, with the element exposed, would then be connected to a power source such as a disposable camera or the like.
"This, a disposable camera or such power source, was then used to initiate the detonator. Easily assembled, we say, once you have the component parts all at hand."
Wright took the jury through pages of the diary.
Another extract read: "Clean batteries. Perfect disguise. Drink bottles, Lucozade, orange, red. Oasis, orange, red."
One read: "Mouthwash, blue, red. Calculate exact drops of Tang, plus colour. Make in HP." On the other side the writer had continued: "Check time to fill each bottle. Check time taken to dilute in HP. Decide on which battery to use for D. Small is best. Get bags, key rings, electrics for batteries, toothbrush, toothpaste, aftershave."
Further on was written: "Lucozade, red, 1.5 drops, one teaspoon Tang, one teaspoon orange, 12 drops. Oasis, red. On, red dye. Orange, two times mango."
Wright told the jury: "When one considers the methodology whereby primary explosive and detonator were to be combined to deadly effect, then the contents of the diary begin to make sense."
From the International Herald Tribune:
“…The allegations that the men planned to detonate liquid explosives aboard jetliners paralyzed air traffic on two continents in the summer of 2006, raised terror alerts in the United States and Britain and led authorities to permanently bar passengers around the world from carrying most liquids onto planes. There were claims by American officials that the suspected scheme resembled the work of Al Qaeda……On Monday, three of the men pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause explosions with a stockpile of soft-drink bottles and hydrogen peroxide. Two of the men - Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, and Assad Sarwar, 28, who were joined in the guilty plea by Tanvir Hussain, 27 - already admitted in court that they intended to set off bombs….Using a sealed 17-ounce sports drink, the men planned to drain the plastic bottle through a tiny hole in the bottom and then inject an explosive brew of concentrated hydrogen peroxide, along with food coloring to make it look like the original beverage. Superglue would seal it shut. AA batteries filled with the explosive HMTD would serve as the detonator; a disposable camera would serve as the trigger….Prosecutors said the men would have carried the components onto seven trans-Atlantic planes, assembled them and then exploded them in midair. The jury was shown a videotape of an explosion of a bomb built by government scientists to be identical to those the defendants are accused of trying to make. Thick panels of reinforced plastic were blown to the floor as the device exploded.”
From the Evening Standard:
“Prosecutors claim eight men plotted to blow up passenger jets f lying from Heathrow. They planned to use hydrogen peroxide to bypass airport security, jurors were told. The devices would be detonated using a battery from a camera flash, it was claimed. They were being assembled at a flat bought by the gang for cash in Forest Road, Walthamstow, the court heard. The same flat was used by six members of the gang to record videos in which they ranted hatred against the West and non-Muslims, jurors were told. Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the men were "almost ready to go" as the plot came to fruition. He said the gang had enough hydrogen peroxide and other materials to make at least 20 soft drink bombs.”,
From a TSA News Bulletin:
"...the men planned to inflict heavy casualties, 'all in the name of Islam'. 'These men were, we say, indifferent to the carnage that was likely to ensue. Some of the men you see in the dock are those who were prepared to sacrifice their own lives.”Peter Wright, QC Prosecutor of the eight UK plot suspects.
The court heard prosecutors allege that the eight men were planning to carry liquid explosives on to planes at Heathrow, knowing the devices would evade airport security checks….Prosecutors said the bombers would then have completed and detonated the devices during their flights once all the targeted planes had taken off….They found he intended to murder people using hydrogen peroxide liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks..”
“Tang, peroxide and a disposable camera — items you may very well have in your home — can be a deadly mix. Far-fetched as it sounds, bombs made from hydrogen peroxide and the breakfast powder drink Tang could have taken down seven planes bound for the U.S. and Canada — using flash cameras to trigger the explosions.”,2933,356491,00.html


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