Liquid Explosives: Easy to Find, Make, Hide


carry_on_baggage.jpg

The BBC has a good Q&A on liquid explosives. Here’s a key snippet:

How are they made?

There are such things as liquid explosives that are high explosives and they behave in exactly the same way as solid explosives, such as TNT.

But there are also explosives that are made by mixing a solid and a liquid – one being the oxidant and the other being the fuel. Unlike most high explosives, they do not contain the fuel and oxidant in the same molecule but they do contain them in sufficiently close contact to cause a blast.

Are the components difficult to get hold of?

No, it is very easy. Ordinary household substances could be used.

Specialist knowledge or equipment needed to make?

If someone wanted to obtain a solid high explosive in a liquid form, it would not be difficult for a trained chemical technologist.

But if someone was using a backyard laboratory it is more likely they would go for the two component approach.

Not a lot of experience is needed, the principles are quite simple but it would be a hazardous process of trial and error.

I would not want to be messing about these things. It has been known for schoolboys to go home and attempt this and blow their house up.

Could an explosive device be carried on to an aeroplane?

The size of a device necessary could be carried in hand baggage. Explosives in a toilet bag, certainly inside a shoulder bag would be enough to meet the terrorists’ needs.

They could be quite hard to detect because I do not think any of the things we have mentioned would respond to x-rays. For example, a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could pass as mineral water.

The question is how do you get something packed into a bag so it does not look suspicious?

More here.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.