Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pressure Cooker Bombs

Ever notice that even terrorist seem get involved with "fads?" It seems that the latest is a new type of improvised explosive device that is all too common in the area of the Indian subcontinent. The pressure cooker bomb is becoming the terrorist's weapon of preference. Here's something from the New Dehli Newspaper, the Hindu:

Terrorists trained in making pressure cooker bombs

NEW DELHI: Terrorists in camps purportedly operating along the Baluchistan border between Pakistan and Afghanistan are being trained in making and exploding pressure cooker bombs, which were used in the Delhi blasts last year and at least in two explosions in Varanasi this past Tuesday.

During interrogation, Mohammad Ibrahim, who was arrested for his involvement in the Special Task Force office blast in Hyderabad in October last, allegedly disclosed that he along with several others from Hyderabad and Ahmedabad had been sent to the Baluchistan border camp via Bangladesh to undergo training in the handling of explosives, arms and ammunition.

The "course" also included the manufacturing of pressure cooker bombs fitted with clock-timer, similar to the one used in the improvised explosive device defused at Godolia in Varanasi on Tuesday.

If you Google "pressure cooker bomb" you will find there's a huge number of attacks carried out using this type of device. What is it about a pressure cooker that makes it so suitable for this use? Some of the article say that it's because security people often don't check them carefully because they are so common. Really? Are that that many pressure cookers out there crossing Indian and Nepalese border checkpoints that they have become invisible to agents?

I'm pretty sure that the security screeners in the US are clued into this. In fact, The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning a while back about such devices. They issued a guideline in February 2004 about them. According to DHS,

Typically, these bombs are made by placing TNT or other explosives in a pressure
cooker and attaching a blasting cap at the top of the pressure cooker. The size
of the blast depends on the size of the pressure cooker and the amount of
explosive placed inside. Pressure cooker bombs are made with readily available
materials and can be as simple or as complex as the
builder decides. These types of devices can be initiated using simple electronic components including, but not limited to, digital watches, garage door openers, cell phones or pagers.
As a common cooking utensil, the pressure cooker is often overlooked when
searching vehicles, residences or merchandise crossing the U.S. Borders.


Anonymous said...

I heard of something called a 'hellcat' one time.

It might be BS, I heard it around the watercooler, but it involved a pressure cooker, thermite, and gasoline.

It was a fuel/air bomb, and I'm sure you can google or wikipedia that to see how they work, but it has something to do with super-heating the gas without it boiling until the pressure cooker blows up, and then, on whatever principle fuel/air bombs work, the aresoled superheated gas causes a huge concusive wave, or something to that effect.

I don't know what the margin would be in putting conventional explosives in a pressure cooker, why would that be more significant than a putting TNT in a coffee can or a picnic basket, but this thermite/petrol thing at least sounds like something distincty differnt that would make use of the pressure cooker's defining properties.

Anonymous said...

If you live in the mountains you need a pressure cooker. At high altitudes water boils at lower temptures and it can take forever to cook food.

Anonymous said...

yes there are that many pressure cookers crossing nepal india border. Every house hold has at least one pressure cooker, mine has 3

Anonymous said...

They use pressure cookers because they can contain pressure and cause a low velocity explosive to do much more damage. If you contain gunpowder in a pressure vessel it will be more powerful. Same principal as a pipe bomb.