WAR ON TERROR: BOMB IN THE BLACK BOOTS; Lethal C-4 Explosive Is Widely Used by Al-Qaeda
THE suicide bomber who tried to bring down an American Airlines jet had C-4 explosives stuffed in the heels of his black suede Reebok boots.
C-4 has has been linked to several attacks by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Six hundred pounds of the plastic explosive were used in the October 2000 attack on the American warship USS Cole in the Yemen which killed 17 American sailors and wounded 39.
It was also used in 1996 to blow up the Khobar Towers military housing block in Saudi Arabia, claiming the lives of 19 Americans.
The explosive was first developed in America during the Vietnam war and is widely used by the US military.
Experts say it is rarely found in Europe although it is available on the internet under strict licensing.
US investigators believe C-4 is produced in countries like Iran and Iraq and it is known to be used extensively by Hizbollah bombers in Lebanon.The explosive's main component is a substance called RDX, which is produced as a powder but then turned into a white, putty-like material which can be easily and safely moulded by hand into any shape.
On its own, it is harmless without a detonater.
It is believed the bomber on Flight 63 had a small detonator hidden in his shoes, attached to a "safety fuse" which can be lit with matches.
Last night, explosives expert Dr Sidney Alford said the C-4 in the man's shoes might not have been enough to blow up the whole aircraft.
He said: "If he was sitting in an aisle seat with his soles packed with C-4, he would have killed himself and killed or injured people around him.
"If he was sitting in a window seat with his feet up against the side of the plane, he would have blown a hole in the fuselage and that could have caused real problems.
"Even with the thickest soles on, the amount of C-4 couldn't have been that much.
"From the information we have so far, it would seem that this man was a keen amateur doing his bit for the 'war effort' rather than working for a full-scale professional outfit. …