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August 10, 2006

Acetone Peroxide (For A Bomb - Triacetone Triperoxide) And The Terrorist Plot To Blow Up British Planes

Topics: Terrorism

Let's just call this a quick primer on the Islamofascists choice ot TATP!

News reports of the multi-plane bombing plan mention an explosive that could have been smuggled as seemingly innocuous fluid and mixed together on board:

One possibility is triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, which may have been used in the London Underground bombings and in the alleged shoe bomb. ... TATP can be readily made from hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and a small amount of acid, typically sulfuric acid. ... it takes hours to crystallize out of solution.

... New Scientist quoted experts saying it might have been nitroglycerine, but that nitro would have quickly reacted to form ammonia at easily detectable levels.

The Independent cited several other possibilities: nitromethane, nitroethane, methyl nitrate, and the Astrolite family. I think we can rule Astrolite because hydrazine, one of the binary compounds used to make it, is so toxic. Nitromethane is the primary component of PLX, thought to have been used by North Korean agents to blow up Korean Air flight 858 in 1987. Methyl nitrate can be made from nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and methanol, but it takes some care.

I'm interested to learn just how tightly sealed the containers were, what sort of chemistry lab the terrorists proposed to set up on the plane, and how they proposed to detonate the explosive.

Andrew Sullivan suggests that the liquid may not have been an explosive but a binary chemical weapon.

In our July 2005 piece on the trains in London titled, "Acetone Peroxide - the explosive used in the London blasts," we wrote:
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.

Acetone_peroxide_molecule.jpgOwing 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).

Related: Can You Drink Explosives?

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Posted by Richard at August 10, 2006 7:27 PM

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