Newspaper article International New York Times

Experts Scrutinize ISIS Bomb Claims ; in Showing off Device Said to Down Russian Jet, Group Might Be Posturing

Newspaper article International New York Times

Experts Scrutinize ISIS Bomb Claims ; in Showing off Device Said to Down Russian Jet, Group Might Be Posturing

Article excerpt

Bomb-disposal technicians said the device the militants have claimed brought down a Russian jet would not be hard for an explosives expert to build.

How could a soda can bring down a passenger jet?

The Islamic State circulated a picture of what it said was an improvised explosive device used to blow up a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula last month, killing all 224 people on board. As photographed, the device is designed to masquerade as a common beverage can.

There is no public evidence that this device -- pictured in the latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State's propaganda magazine -- was in fact related to the downing of the Russian jet. The photograph could be calculated misinformation, intended to impress the terrorist group's rank and file or potential recruits and to distract law enforcement officials.

The New York Times asked career bomb-disposal technicians for their first impressions of the pictured device, with the understanding that the photograph is of marginal quality and not all the components can be clearly seen.

The answers were consistent: The device depicted is nothing new or surprising, and it would not be hard for an experienced bomb maker to build.

The component seen on the right, with black tape and a manual switch, could serve one of a number of functions.

Many bombs have an arming-safe switch, and a separate mechanism for initiating the blasting cap and setting off the explosion.

The wires seen are probably electrical connections for the blasting cap, shown at the center of the picture. The rest of the circuit, hidden under the black tape, could include small batteries and the electronics needed to send a charge to the blasting cap at the intended moment. The cap would then detonate a main explosive charge in the aluminum can.

The can has a hole in the bottom and shows signs of being filled with explosive paste.

It is not likely to be a liquid bomb; that might require the black-taped component to be waterproof (it does not appear so) or rigged outside the can (which would make the soft-drink ruse more vulnerable to detection).

The bottom seems crudely resealed and may expose a white substance, indicating that the contents are more likely solid. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.