During this event in France, MSNBC has had more and more effective “live on the ground” reporting. I suspect that they had a large crew in place for the Paris Climate Junket (or the left just loves to hang out in Paris more). At any rate, I’ve been checking in with them for faster “live coverage” when things happen in France.
This morning they had an interview with Laith Alkhouri, their “Counter Terrorism Expert”. I didn’t catch all of it (the perils of channel hopping), but the end part had two main points to make:
1) Making the explosive used is very hard and takes very special training. Terrorists can only find out how from terrorist ‘manuals’ at various jihadi web sites and / or traveling to terrorist training camps. It is complicated, difficult, and requires great skill.
2) Gitmo is “offensive” to Muslims and that causes it to be a recruitment tool, so it ought to be closed.
I have two points to make about this. The first one is easy, so I’ll put it here. The second more complicated so it will get a section of its own. On the topic of “offensive” to Islam and Muslims:
They are “offended” by: Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism, Hindus, ANY religion not Islam, most Islamic sects not their particular sect, Statues, The Human Body, almost all western art and movies, women who are not under the thumb of a man who owns them at all times, pork roast, bacon, hot dogs, dogs, beer, wine, pictures of Mohammed, anything other than praise for Mohammed, history other than Islam, books other than “approved” ones, Jews, Israel, anyone who doesn’t hate Jews and Israel, men without beards (the Koran and hadith demand them), women with faces and / or hair showing and don’t even think about ‘showing a bit of leg’, and ALL of Western Civilization.
That’s the ‘very short list’…
I’m pretty sure that if Gitmo didn’t exist they would just move down the list to the next “offensive thing” on their list.
It is entirely a dodge and a distraction to point at Gitmo as “offensive” so it needs to go away. By that logic, you can kiss off beer and a Polish dog at the football game, wine at a Bistro, roadside cafe with a date on a Friday Night, dancing at a concert, etc. etc. They are ALL “offensive to Muslims” and “good recruiting tools”.
BTW, in a search for his bio, this link came up. Seems I’m not the only one thinkng him a bit dodgy:
Terror expert Laith Alkhouri was on MSNBC Thursday afternoon talking about the attacks in France, and after host Joy Reid asked if the perpetrators could be using help to evade authorities, Alkhouri mentioned they could be part of a “lone-wolf pack.”
To be clear, the definition of “lone wolf” from Merriam Webster’s dictionary is, “a person who prefers to work, act, or live alone.”
Alone, then, would be the antithesis of a “pack.”
So instead of a bio from MSNBC, just do a search on his name. It gives a much more interesting picture of the guy.
A Short Treatise on TATP
Per the media, they are saying it is TATP that’s the explosive which was used. Just how hard is it to find out how to make it?
Let’s just Google TATP:
About 593,000 results (0.33 seconds)
Acetone peroxide – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Acetone peroxide (triacetone triperoxide, peroxyacetone, TATP, TCAP) is an organic peroxide and a primary high explosive. It takes the form of a white crystalline powder with a distinctive bleach-like odor. It is susceptible to heat, friction and shock.
History – Chemistry – Industrial occurrence – Accidental byproduct
What Is TATP? Paris Attackers Used Unstable Hydrogen …
International Business Times
5 days ago – The suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Paris Friday night used an explosive called triacetone triperoxide, Paris prosecutor François Molins said Saturday. TATP can be made in a household using, among other ingredients, hydrogen peroxide. … TATP was used to make the bombs for …
TATP: Countering the Mother of Satan | TFOT
TATP – One of the most elusive explosives used in many deadly terrorist acts of the last few decades can now be identified by a recently developed, simple, and cost-effective pen-like device. … Most common of these peroxide-based explosive compounds are TATP (triacetone …
TATP explosion – YouTube
Video for TATP▶ 1:44
Nov 11, 2012 – Uploaded by tomashampl6455
The ingredients of TATP are readily available at any hardware store and it’s easy to prepare by anyone …
Yeah, you can find it demonstrated on YouTube…
But lets start with the Wiki. Nice and liberal bias. Ubersensitive to things like offending Islam, I’m sure… Besides, it is first on the list and I’m not really interested in searching the other 592,299 results for anything better than “whatever” is on the wiki.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Acetone peroxide (triacetone triperoxide, peroxyacetone, TATP, TCAP) is an organic peroxide and a primary high explosive. It takes the form of a white crystalline powder with a distinctive bleach-like odor.
It is susceptible to heat, friction and shock. The instability is greatly altered by impurities, including its own oligomers. It is not easily soluble in water.
Acetone peroxide was discovered in 1895 by Richard Wolffenstein. He was the first chemist to use inorganic acids as catalysts. He was also the first researcher to receive a patent for using the peroxide as an explosive compound. In 1900 Bayer and Villiger described in the same journal the first synthesis of the dimer and also described use of acids for the synthesis of both peroxides. Information about these procedures including the relative proportions of monomer, dimer, and trimer is also available in an article by Milas and Golubović. Other sources include details of crystal structure and 3D analysis – see The Chemistry of Peroxides edited by Saul Patai (pp. 396–7), as well as the Textbook of Practical Organic Chemistry by Vogel.
“Acetone peroxide” most commonly refers to the cyclic trimer TCAP (tri-cyclic acetone peroxide, or tri-cyclo, C9H18O6) obtained by a reaction between hydrogen peroxide and acetone in an acid-catalyzed nucleophilic addition:
The dimer (C6H12O4) and open monomer are also formed, but under proper conditions the cyclic trimer is the primary product. A tetrameric form was also described.
In mildly acidic or neutral conditions, the reaction is much slower and produces more monomeric organic peroxide than the reaction with a strong acid catalyst. Due to significant angle strain of the chemical bonds in the dimer and especially the monomer, they are even more unstable than the trimer.
At room temperature, the trimeric form slowly sublimes, reforming as larger crystals of the same peroxide.
Acetone peroxide is one of the few high explosives not containing nitrogen. This is one reason it has become popular with terrorists, as it can pass through scanners designed to detect nitrogenous explosives.
TCAP generally burns when ignited, unconfined, in quantities less than about 4 grams. More than 4 grams will usually detonate when ignited; smaller quantities might detonate when even slightly confined. Completely dry TCAP is much more prone to detonation than the fresh product still wetted with water or acetone. The oxidation that occurs when burning is:2 C9H18O6 + 21 O2 → 18 H2O + 18 CO2
Theoretical examination of the explosive decomposition of TCAP, in contrast, predicts “formation of acetone and ozone as the main decomposition products and not the intuitively expected oxidation products.” This result is in good agreement with the results of 60 years of the study of controlled decompositions in various organic peroxides. It is the rapid creation of gas from a solid that creates the explosion. Very little heat is created by the explosive decomposition of TCAP. Recent research describes TCAP decomposition as an entropic explosion.
The high sensitivity to shock, heat and friction are due to the instability of the molecule. Big crystals, found in older mixtures, are more dangerous, as they are easier to shatter—and initiate—than small ones.
Synthesis of tri-cyclic acetone peroxide.
Due to the low cost and ease with which the precursors can be obtained, acetone peroxide can be manufactured by those without the resources needed to manufacture or buy more sophisticated explosives. When the reaction is carried out without proper equipment the risk of an accident is significant.
There is a common myth that the only “safe” acetone peroxide is the trimer, made at low temperatures:
The mixture must be kept below 10 degrees Celsius. If the crystals form at this temperature, it forms the isomer called tricycloacetone peroxide, which is relatively stable and safe to handle. If the crystals form above this temperature, the dimeric form, called dicycloacetone peroxide. This isomer is much more unstable, and could go off at the touch, making it not safe enough to be considered a practical explosive. As long as the temperature is kept below 10 degrees Celsius, then there is little to worry about.
The trimer is the more stable form, but is not much more so than the dimer. All forms of acetone peroxide are sensitive to initiation. Organic peroxides are sensitive, dangerous explosives; due to their sensitivity they are rarely used by well funded militaries. Even for those who synthesize explosives as a hobby there are far safer explosives with syntheses nearly as simple as that of acetone peroxide.
Acetone peroxide is commonly combined with nitrocellulose by dissolving the nitrocellulose in acetone and then mixing in the acetone peroxide and letting it dry, which results in a mixture that is both more stable and somewhat more powerful than acetone peroxide by itself. This mixture is commonly referred to as APNC.
Tetrameric acetone peroxide is more chemically stable (heating to 120 °C for 4 hours), although it is still a very dangerous primary explosive. It can be prepared using tin(IV) chloride (without acid present) as a catalyst with up to 40% yield if a radical inhibitor such as hydroquinone, or a chelator such as EDTA is added.
Acetone peroxide evaporates 6.5% in 24 hours at 14–18 °C. In open air at 25 °C it has a loss by sublimation of 68.6% in 14 days. Many accidents have resulted from the fact that acetone peroxide detonates due to sublimation. Keeping it wet stops the sublimation and can prevent this type of accident
Substantially everything you need to know in one quick fetch. It does have a few dozen citations and it would be good to follow up on them to make sure there isn’t some missing bit. But the “basics” are pretty obvious. Get Acetone and Hydrogen Peroxide (hardware store and pharmacy / grocery store). Add an acid catalyst ( battery acid ought to be fine… tiny bit more research needed here). Keep it in a cold bath while reacting (large plastic or glass salad bowl and ice water). Do NOT let it dry too much ( test small quantities while drying the first batch to find ‘sweet spot’ or look it up in the literature).
Golly, that wasn’t very hard and I didn’t even need to go to some obscure jihadi web site or training camp.
Warning: Do NOT try to make this at home. It is a known unstable shock sensitive explosive. I’m fairly sure there are some ‘technique’ issues I’ve left out that would cause the above to be ‘not quite enough’ to do this without having some blow up in your face. (Even if they are not that hard to find or known to anyone with college chemistry experience)
Expert? No Way.
IMHO this “Expert” on MSNBC is not an expert. He may be able to speak Arabic, and may even have some experience with Islam, but his opinions on Muslim Terrorists is more “apologist for American offensive nature” than real expert. His understanding of explosives is horrid and ignorant.
If this is the quality of “expert” used by The Left, we know why so many are The Loony Side Of Left. They have no clue due to using folks like this as their “experts”.
So what’s my expertise to make such claims about explosives?
Dad was Army Combat Engineer and taught me how to take up and disarm W.W.II German Mines. ( I know, not very useful today! ;-)
I made my first explosive at about 12 years old. Well, my first real explosive. Not counting home made black powder. It is more of a propellant that can cause a blast if heavily confined. I made my last one (an analog of a commercial high explosive) at about age 20. Since some ingredients were unavailable, we (yes, more than me, one was a chem major) had to make some substitutions. We carefully did our research at the university library. Turns out that there was some “censorship” done there, so a particular issue, of one chemical acting as a ‘sensitizer’ for our main hard-to-detonate ingredient, had been purged from the literature there…
The end result was that in final mixing, the mixture (that OUGHT to have been highly insensitive to shock or friction) was in fact sensitive and it went off. Resulting in my eardrums being blown out. A few surgeries later they were restored, but I’m now partly deaf. (About the same as heavy concert goers my age… ~30 db down). As you might guess, this caused me to be just a bit P.O.d beyond belief at censorship, and I’ve done a lot more book R&D since on the chemistry involved. No, I’m not going to ‘share’ what the secret sauce was. In fact, it would make it far too easy to make easily detonated giant bombs out of common materials. But it ought not to be hidden from chemistry students.
Since then my interest has been only academic, not “practical”, as even a loud door slamming makes my ears ring again.
One of the most interesting materials I made was Cu2C2
Just run acetylene gas through ammoniated copper chloride. Be careful, though, the stuff wants to ‘rapidly disassemble’… resulting in copper and carbon (or carbon dioxide if in air). Am I “spilling the beans” on some other non-nitrate explosive? Um, wiki beat me to it…
Copper(I) acetylide, or cuprous acetylide, is a chemical compound with the formula Cu2C2, known at least since 1856. In the common form (a monohydrate with formula Cu2C2.H2O) it is a reddish solid, that easily explodes when dry.
Besides, that ‘easily explodes’ is essentially ‘code words’ for ‘contact explosive’. You can’t make much of it, and get it usable, without a bang. Very similar to nitrogen tri-iodide. Another interesting non-nitrate. Ammonia water over iodine crystals. Let the filter paper dry. Bang! My high school chem teacher made it as a demonstration in class. Did a great job of convincing us all to be more careful. Also woke up some inattentive folks ;-) Now he would be put in jail, I’m sure.
The point of these lessons in ‘how to make exotic explosives’? It isn’t hard. It isn’t obscure. You can’t stop it by hiding knowledge nor banning materials. You do not need to go to Jihadi Websites to learn it. It is, in fact, terribly easy to make explosives from all sorts of common things (I’ve left out the really obscure ones from essentially impossible to ban things, like bleach copper and electricity… or salt, electricity and a reducing agent like sugar). The hard part is making STABLE explosives that don’t blow up in your face.
In fact, I’d hazard a guess that the Terrorists didn’t “detonate their suicide vests” but in fact were “remote detonated” via the shock wave of a bullet hitting the acetone peroxide. If so, the “lessons learned” from Paris ought to include advice to police world wide to “shoot them at a distance and see if they POP!”. Having a bomb in the middle of a group of these folks that you can set off with a single shot is a great feature! IMHO at least. Similarly, a ‘stun grenade’ might well make enough shock wave to set these off. Make a big bang inside any hideout before you go in. Preferably with a grenade launcher and not hand tossed! If up close, go for the head shot…
Don’t get your “expert advice” from someone who is clueless about the chemistry involved, nor your political advice from someone with an agenda.
If you put someone on TV as an “expert”, make sure they in fact have some kind of clue before letting them open their mouth. They at least need to pass the “sniff test” of simple direct observations, like, oh, “Cartoons, Pork and Beer Offend Muslims” so maybe “offends Muslims” is not a good test for a policy. And “a wiki search on the term shows how to make it” so maybe it isn’t that hard to find out.