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The Threat of Keister Bombs? Don't Worry About It, IED Expert Says

By Matthew Harwood

The news reported earlier this month that an al Qaeda terrorist tried to assassinate the Saudi interior minister, responsible for the kingdom's counterterrorism program, by detonating an improvised explosive device hidden in his anal cavity may be surprising, an IED expert contends, but it isn't a credible threat as the incident shows.

First off, no one other than the bomber, who was killed, was seriously injured in the late August attack, Lewis Page, a former IED disposal operator for the United Kingdom's mainland police, argues in the Register.

The target of the attack, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, told Al-Arabiya TV that 23-year-old Abdullah Hassan Tali' al-Asiri—aka Abul-Khair— "surprised me by blowing himself up." The prince sustained a minor injury to his hand in the failed attack.

Second, Page notes that you don't have to be an explosives expert to understand that packing an explosive around human flesh will soften its blow.

Third, there's the problem of detonating the bomb once it's planted. A mechanical timer is one solution but could possibly alert sharp-eared security guards, while the electrical firing circuits used to detonate many terrorist bombs would mean the bomber would have to fit a battery in the cavity as well. Page won't even touch manual detonation.

Page even considers whether a terrorist could drink liquid explosives and then find a way to detonate it internally. His prognosis? Negative.

We would note though that in order to deploy a charge actually capable of working from within an enemy within you'd need to fill up quite a lot of the body. This is theoretically possible - a gutsy bomber could conceivably quaff huge quantities of liquid main-charge explosives and then perhaps swallow a detonating device.

It still seems pretty unfeasible, however. The Tang part of current liquid mixes wouldn't be too much of problem, but the peroxide concentrate would be likely to finish the belly-bomber off before it even exploded - or anyway cause one or another kind of inadvertent payload-jettison unpleasantness. Then there'd be the risk that stomach acids would render the charge ineffective, or make it explode early etc.

Security guru and blogger Bruce Schneier hopes no one at the Transportation Security Administration heard about this new conveyance method. After all, air travelers take off their shoes before going through security screening because of failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

Both Schneier and Page see the threat of suicide buttock bombers as ridiculous. The global intelligence firm STRATFOR, however, took the threat seriously, saying it is ideal for assassination or for smuggling IED parts on board a plane, where they can be removed and used to construct a bomb.


Photo by pmarkham/Flickr

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