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Friday, January 08, 2010

More on the Under Pants Bomber

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian suspected of trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day was a pathetic attempt at terrorism and should have been an embarrassment both to himself and al Qaeda.
The explosive Pentaerythritol tetranitrate or PETN was stuffed in Abdulmutallab’s crouch, possibly in a condem. He tried to detonate it with a syringe full of acid. According to FOX News:
“Abdulmutallab may likely have passed through a magnetometer, the conventional metal detector used at most airports. It's a sophisticated device that detects firearms, box-cutters, belt buckles and nail clippers — but it's useless in finding a small amount of powder capable of bringing down an airliner packed with passengers.“
PETN is a powerful explosive that could have punched a big hole in the plane. That doesn’t mean the plane would completely explode or be unable to land with at least some or most of the passengers alive. It all depends on where in the plane Abdulmutallab was sitting. Although PETN is a powerful high explosive it used to me made into Semtex plastic , which has been used in the past by more professional experienced terrorists. PETN is effective but cruder and less stable. It comes as a powder or paste. But as with many high explosives it has to be detonated with a primary explosive, an electric shock or in Abdulmutallab case, a chemical reaction that acts as a catalyst. When the detonator is not effective, as with other explosives, such as dynamite, it just burns. That’s what happened with Abdulmutallab, who now goes down in history as the failed Under Pants bomber.

8 g PETN

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