mentioned above would be needed.
In order for an explosion of one of these compounds to succeed intaking down an airplane, Keenan thinks, it would have to take place near the skin of the airplane; in other words, right next to the side, and preferably the window – close enough to blow a hole in the side or to blow out the window. The first reported act of sabotage against anairplane took place in 1933 over Chesterton, Indiana and involved anitroglycerine bomb planted in the tail assembly of a Boeing 247 anddetonated by a timing device. The 10 people aboard were all killed.How much of the explosive compound would be needed to blow a holein an airplane? Keenan believes that about eight ounces would beadequate. Richard Reid had eight ounces of TATP in his shoe, which probably could have blown out the side of the plane, or at least awindow.In Keenan’s opinion, it would be difficult to bring down an airplanewith this type of explosive in checked luggage because of the location of the baggage compartment. A terrorist would need a lot more product toeffect an explosion that would be large enough to guarantee a hole in theaircraft, and would have no guarantee when or where – or if – theexplosion would take place.
"Mother of Satan"
TATP is one of the most sensitive explosives known, susceptible toimpact, temperature change, and friction. For this reason, it has beencalled the "Mother of Satan." This characteristic is what makes TATPintriguing to terrorists, but at the same time causes it to be exceedinglydifficult to work with.Although officials have declined to discuss the technology planned for the thwarted plot, one scenario is that multiple terrorists would board a plane, each armed with one element of a bomb, which by itself would beinnocuous. During the flight, the terrorists would manage to gather the products, mix them together to cause a volatile product, and detonatethat mix using an electronic device. Keenan questions the validity of thisscenario. "I seriously doubt that any of these compounds could actually be successfully synthesized on an aircraft. The concentrated acidsrequired, the time and temperature control involved, make that scenariohighly unlikely."
Detecting chemical explosives
There are a few technologies out there that can detect liquid chemicalexplosives. The primary one in use is ion mobility spectrometry (IMS).IMS is based on the principle that when differently charged molecules(ions) are acceleterated through an electric field, they will travel at