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July 21, 2005

Acetone Peroxide - the explosive used in the London blasts

Topics: Terrorism

Interesting fact - the London blasts last week were against 3 subway trains and a double-decker bus. Today's London blasts were against 3 subway trains and a double-decker bus.

Acetone peroxide(C9H18O6), or TATP(triacetone triperoxide), the explosive used in today's London blasts, is a high explosive that can be made from common household items such as drain cleaner(sulfuric acid - H2SO4), hydrogen peroxide(H2O2), and acetone(CH3COCH3), a common organic solvent. It is actually a mixture of stereoisomers. In its finished form it is almost undetectable by sniffer dogs or conventional bomb detection systems.


Owing to the fact that the precursors are readily available, Acetone Peroxide is commonly used by amateur bomb makers, is often used for detonators, which may have been the case in the most recent London blasts, and is a favored explosive for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East. Other strong acids such as hydrochloric acid(HCl) may also be used to catalyze the reaction (only inorganic acids can be used).

One little caveat to remember if you're a wanna-be bomb-maker: TATP is very very unstable ["Frankly, I wouldn't like to be wandering around with 10lb of TATP on my back.": ]

In the occupied Palestinian territories, you can always tell who the 'engineers' (bomb-makers) are: they're the ones covered in burn marks who might be missing fingers, or even a whole hand, who make bombs for the young suicide bombers sent to kill Israelis by the Islamic militant organisations such as Hamas. And there, as in London, their explosive of choice is triacetone triperoxide or TATP. And TATP is the reason for the engineer's disfigurement.

For the same reasons that Hamas uses TATP to send suicide bombers undetected into Israel, the al-Qaeda network has adopted TATP for its terror missions abroad. The substance was included as the trigger in the shoe bomb that Briton Richard Reid tried to detonate on a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, and in the identical device given to Reid's fellow bomber Sajid Badat, who aborted his mission.

But as the Palestinian bomb-makers will attest - 40 Palestinians are thought to have been killed making or handling the explosive - it is highly unstable and sensitive to heat and friction. Not for nothing is it known as "Mother of Satan".

As one British explosives expert said today of the news that TATP was involved in the four London blasts:

Related reading

MY PERSONAL GUESS ON WHY THE EXPLOSIVES DIDN'T GO OFF - the bomb-maker was an idiot and got the mixture wrong! It's as simple as that.

So besides being an Islamist pig, worthy of being soaked in pig's blood, he or she is also a stupid idiot.

Reminder: For all you future Islamofascist pigophilic bomb-makers, remember that TATP is absolutely one of the MOST UNSTABLE explosives you can play with.

Blog coverage of the London blasts includes: Jawa Report, Michelle Malkin, Mark in Mexico, California Conservative, Wizbang, JackLewis.Net, The CounterTerrorism Blog

Posted by Hyscience at July 21, 2005 1:20 PM

As long as we are guessing, maybe they tried to catalyze the reaction with glacial acetic acid, which is easy to get.

Posted by: David at July 21, 2005 1:55 PM

Couldn't the failure to explode have been the result of infiltration of the group by an agent who knew enough about chemistry to make sure the bombs wouldn't explode?

Posted by: Robert Speirs at July 21, 2005 2:15 PM

If TATP is as unstable as you say it is, then perhaps we ought to be ENCOURAGING the Splodeydopers to play around with it. It might dramatically reduce the terrorist popluation...and make the survivors easier to identify. Even airport security guards ought to be able to pick out guys with missing fingers, burn scars and bulging knapsacks...

Posted by: Wes S. at July 21, 2005 7:20 PM

The stability of the stuff improves when you add picric acid? Keeeee-ryest onna cracker! I notice that in the tail end of Meglomania's writeup that after a few weeks it will vaporize if not stored in something airtight. My take is that they were using the same batch as the 7/7 bombers did, not knowing that the explosive was loosing its oomph.

Posted by: Cybrludite at July 22, 2005 4:13 AM

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