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Everything you wanted to know about liquid explosives but were afraid to ask
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Given the focus on the fact that the British bomb plot recently uncovered saw the plotters planning to use liquid explosives, I began looking around for information on them.

Global Security has a good roundup of information about them and, as you'll see, how easily some sort of binary system could be procured for use in a plot like that. We're not talking uncommon stuff here and, as you read through it, you'll understand why not just liquids but gels as well have been banned from carry on luggage.

I remember once, in a different lifetime and a galaxy far, far away, making "Foo Gas" with two very common items which anyone can procure today without any questions being asked.

Don't look for the ban on liquids and gels in carry on luggage to be lifted anytime soon if ever. Do look for terrorists to try to find another way to successfully do what they were plotting to do in this case.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Really? I heard that some of the liquid bans were already loosening up. How is the Heathrow airport looking right now? Is it still a mess?
Written By: Emma
The only way to make the airlines safe would be to allow no bags (checked or carried on) and permit passengers to wear no clothes beyond a bathing suit. Hell, then someone would think of getting breast implants filled with C-4. Seriously, it’s impossible, so I’m sick of all these precautions. Let them attack our planes and when they do hunt down the f*ckers behind the attack and disembowel them on international television. Though I guess our failure at capturing bin Laden might show that this tactic isn’t realistic either.

Trying to stop terrorism is like trying to stop anyone from releasing another debilitating computer virus... the bad guys will always manage to find a creative way around any safeguards put in place, so let’s keep those safeguards from getting in the way of our lives.

So, to bring this back to the topic... I sure as hell hope you’re wrong about the ban on liquids remaining in place, because that’s a royal pain in the arse.
Written By: Winn
URL: http://
My guess, Emma, is there will be a loosening, like water, coffee or some other drink, perhaps, but you’ll be required to take a drink of it before you’ll be allowed to proceed. However, other stuff that you can’t test is such a direct way, may not.
Written By: McQ
In Phoenix, airport officials decided to donate the hygiene items they collected (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, deodorant, etc.) to a local homeless shelter. They didn’t run any scans on the stuff first; they just donated it.

So my question is: do they know damned well that the stuff they confiscated is harmless, and decided to give it to the homeless rather than see it go to waste, or do they think the stuff they confiscated really is dangerous, but figure they’ve found a spiffy new way to solve Phoenix’s homeless problem? And which attitude displays more contempt from the government toward its citizens?
Written By: Jennifer
Pretty discouraging for any that think a "technical fix" or "more government law enforcement heroes" searching us more and more intrusively will "keep us all safe".

Nitromethane is a common chemical. Tens of thousands of metric tons of nitromethane are made in 15 or so countries and exported globally for 1001 vital & legitimate uses. Even if it was "banned", you have any number of substitutes. I’m no anarchist or terrorist, but just reading a few sites (sorry FBI gumshoe monitoring - just curious) shows there are hundreds of paths to creating explosive devices from common household substances.

What has "saved" us so far is most people aren’t interested in blowing other people up, are worried that they would be blown up or arrested themselves, or justly worried that society tends to negate any successful bombings by turning against the bombers.

Ummm, until the Muslim community and Jihad...

The "heroes" of the government can search all the coffee containers they want...Islamists who scout the security checkpoints will just note what can’t be used for now because the US is burning through billions combating yet another "phantom threat". There’s always different targets and methods that an intelligent, learning Muslim war group can choose as long as their existence in tolerated and accepted in our midst. For example: I don’t see how you stop a Shaheed martyr packed internally with pounds of high explosive and a confederate with a false tooth or dentures concealing a detonator. Do we go to anal, vaginal, oral and strip searches prior to flying, entering a public event like a HS basketball game, a shopping mall, train station to combat future "martyr mules" ready to explode? Many have said we "have to do whatever it takes for the sake of safety" strip search. Because thin plastic bags full of pre-explosive liquid bianaries are undetectable if sewn into cloths or taped to skin.

I hate to say it, but the only way it seems we will avoid a creeping totalitarian police state can be avoided with steady incremental losses of liberty like "the duty to public safety to be liquid-free" one year and anally probed the next is to impose collective responsibility on Muslim behavior.

Starting with a ban on all Muslim immigration, H-1Bs, family reunification visas - now. And increment up through stages if Islamic terrorism is not jobs given to Muslims in critical infrastructure or with access to hazardous substances..profiling...separate travel lines for Muslims..And if the War with Infidels continues, we change the Constititution and cleanse all Muslims back to the Ummah.

Anybody notice recent disclosure that TSA singles out US servicemen for thorough searches based on "their long stay in States sponsoring terrorism" makes them highly suspicious by arbitrary TSA criteria?? How Stuuuuupiiiddd!! is that??

[Jennifer - this time I strongly agree. I had a woman co-worker who had to throw out 80 bucks worth of makeup into the discard container who chanted "I am not a Go&*d#*n Muslim each toss to the cheers of the crowd other than some do-gooder who said "Islam is all about peace...don’t be angry at angry at Bush!!" to jeers. I am sure my co-workers vile, vile Monday mood about having to toss all her makeup and several other items would not have been improved by some TSA goon saying "Oh, we know it’s all perfectly safe! You’ll be happy to know all your stuff will go to the homeless!"]
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Because thin plastic bags full of pre-explosive liquid bianaries are undetectable if sewn into cloths or taped to skin.
You haven’t been to the airport lately, I guess. There’s a sniffer booth that’s undergoing trials in various airports.

My wife is a frequent flier and she noted that when most people check in their bags, the flight tends to leave on time. A lot of time is wasted with people trying to figure out how to get their almost oversized carry-ons stored.
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"you’ll be required to take a drink of it before you’ll be allowed to proceed."

If it’s not fast-acting or if there is an antidote, that probably won’t work either.

And on a cheery note, there are other things, like incendiaries.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Flacy -
You haven’t been to the airport lately, I guess. There’s a sniffer booth that’s undergoing trials in various airports.
You haven’t been reading, I guess.

Sniffers are set to detect explosive molecules, not binary non-explosive precursor molecules.

They admit they have no detectors anywhere able to detect select precursors - let alone 200 or so separate precursor chemicals that could be used.

Also, high density, medical grade plastic bags are now designed NOT to let molecules to pass through - sensitivity machines in research to even small contamination of DNA research samples, etc. makes it undesirable. Any Jihadi working in research or pharma has access to both the bags and certain precursor chemicals.

They don’t even have a machine that can reliably detect the ’ol shoe explosive gambit. And the worker quality control is awesome. Guy in Dallas thought it was OK to carry a gun on in his bag because he was a cop. Went right through one flight, another one, then remembered he really should have said he had a gun and was a deputy..and wondered how they knew he was a cop. He asked at the 3rd security he went through.

Bad move for him, bad witch hunt for the TSA jamokes at the other two security stations.
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
In 93, when they tried the truck bomb against the WTC, I said to several of my friends "why didn’t they just hijack a 747 and crash it into the building? It’d work a lot better than any bomb they could build"

In 2000, when flying I had a folding knife, with serrated blade in my pocket. Because the blade was less than 4" long I was told it was perfectly fine to fly with it. I told the security people that they were crazy for letting people fly with knives like that.

After 9/11 and the big security change, I again pointed out to friends that it would be simple to get the materials for a bomb onboard by using liquids in carry on bags. Even 100% alcohol would make a damm good fire. They were lucky that Reed didn’t go to the restroom before attempting to light his shoe.

So now what would be a good threat angle? Remember that the jihadi’s are suicidal, so dying in the process is desirable for them. Perhaps a bio agent sprinkled liberally on all parts of the body and clothing and they board the plane with the intent of infecting everyone else onboard ( and probably contaminating the aircraft as well, so that future passengers are infected ). Anthrax or something like it would be good for this.
Written By: Robert

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