View Full Version : Scientific fight against terrorism

19th Apr 2004, 16:43
Interesting article

Israeli scientists sharing vital information with U.S. security organizations
By ISRAEL21c staff April 18, 2004

The worldwide fight against terror is not only taking place on the battlefield. In the labs of Israeli universities like the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, scientists are developing progressive methods to deal with the increasing unconventional threats to the Western world.

According to Ha'aretz the dean of the Technion chemistry faculty, Professor Ehud Keinan, recently shared his information on some technological breakthroughs with the U.S. umbrella organization for security technology - the TSWG (Technical Support Working Group) - which includes about 80 organizations that specialize in security (for example, the CIA, FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.)

This umbrella organization is currently preparing a tender for American companies to create a device for identifying explosives that is based on a prototype developed by Keinan's staff. The device is based on an incident that occurred in 1986 and has occupied Keinan ever since.

A pipe bomb was placed by terrorists near Hebron, and a police sapper was called to the scene who discovered an unidentified white substance near the device. The bomb detonated, the sapper was killed, and an investigation found that the white explosive was TATP (triacetone triperoxide, commonly known as acetone peroxide). This type of explosive has been around since the beginning of the 20th century, but this was the first time that terror organizations had used it.

Years later, in 2001, FBI special agent Margaret Cronin testified that tests indicate the sneakers worn by the notorious 'Shoe Bomber' Richard Reid aboard American Airlines Flight 63 contained TATP.

TATP is an extremely dangerous explosive because the slightest friction is liable to cause it to detonate, according to Keinan. "The world is exposed to this material and we are helpless," he told Ha'aretz. "If someone wants to bring down a Boeing 747, no one will stop him. And security officials know this."

But in an article soon to be published in a scientific journal, Keinan describes for the first time the way this material works. When TATP is detonated, each solid molecule turns into four gas molecules. This means that within one microsecond, a huge volume of gas is created, and this is what causes the explosion. Most of the devices for detecting explosives operate on a group of specific chemical (nitro) materials present in all explosives. "We have developed a hand-held device called PET (Peroxide Explosives Tester) that detects TATP, and we are now working to develop a sensor for advance detection of explosives," Keinan said

19th Apr 2004, 17:15
"We have developed a hand-held device called PET"

i.e. A sniffer dog - and how much was the grant again?