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SITE Publications
Caution: Terrorists teach others how to make chemical bombs, primarily from household materials
By SITE Institute
April 8, 2005




A five-page report with step-by-step instructions for making chemical bombs and their components was circulated aggressively over the jihadi message boards. Each set of ?do-it-yourself? instructions for making the bombs and components - tetraminecopper chlorate (TACC), copper sulfate, diazodinitrophenol (DDNP), lead picrate, and lead monoxide - is in a separate section. The sections are broken down into at least two subsections that list the required materials and the detailed instructions for preparation of the substance.
[1]

The first substance described in the report is copper sulfate,[2] which is one of the components for preparing the explosive tetraminecopper chlorate (TACC).Materials listed in the report as required to make copper sulfate, are available in most households. For example, the report lists sulfuric acid and indicates that it can be obtained from a car battery. Also on this list are heat-resistant glass containers such as Pyrex dishes, which are commonly available in households. The report explains where less accessible materials can be found. The copper sulfate preparation subsection of the report lists the steps to be taken in preparing the bomb. The first of the seven steps, for example, is to: ?Put 10 grams of the copper into a pint jar. To this, add 240 ml of dilute sulfuric acid.?

The report explains that after the copper sulfate component has been prepared, the bomb maker can proceed with making the explosive - tetraminecopper chlorate (TACC). Chlorate is a primary explosive. It is used as an activating explosive, a component of detonators. The TACC required components subsection lists household items, chemicals that can be made from household items, and chemicals that can be obtained from construction suppliers and other commercial outlets.

With information about the precise timing and careful monitoring of temperature, the TACC preparation subsection steps through the combining of sodium chlorate, alcohol, and ammonia to create the dangerous crystals. The first of the steps is to ?put 250 ml of ammonia into a narrow-necked bottle. Then put a tube into it, inserting it 4 cm. The length of the tube should be 30 to 40 cm. Seal the tube with wax and clay, or if asphalt is available, that is preferable.? The instructions indicate that a cola bottle is appropriate.

The report also describes how to make another explosive: lead picrate.[3] Listed in the required materials subsection of the lead picrate explosive description are monoxide lead, picric acid, and methanol. According to the report, these chemicals are available through suppliers for tinsmiths, laboratories, and painters. Another subsection of the report also lists the tools required to prepare this explosive, which include test tubes, glass containers, and teaspoons.

Finally, the lead picrate preparation subsection discusses this component. The instructions include a warning: ?After the lead monoxide, picric acid, and alcohol are combined, special care is imperative.? At this point, the report explains, the solution is a primary explosive. ?Keep away from the fumes! The mixture will thicken and require caution to prevent lumps from forming before it becomes a white powder.?

Diazodinitrophenol (DDNP) is the fourth explosive discussed.[4] It is a primary explosive used in the fabrication of detonators, and as a booster explosive with picric acid or RDX.[5]

The report indicates that the required components are laboratory-prepared chemicals including sodium hydroxide, concentrated sulfuric acid, and potassium or sodium nitrate.[6] ,[7] The report explains that sulfur can be obtained from an agriculture supply store. Further, required tools include an eyedropper, a glass or wood stirring rod, and heat-resistant glass cups. The preparation subsection next describes how to prepare the chemical by combining two mixtures. At one point, a chemical forms ?a primary explosive that must be kept away from fire and flame.?

The last explosive component section is about lead monoxide. It is necessary for the preparation of many explosives. According to the report, it can be obtained at stores selling hoses and at pharmacies. The report explains that the following items found in most homes - wood alcohol, a screwdriver, glass jars, and metal pans - are needed, along with sodium or potassium nitrate.

To prepare this component, the bomb maker places some of the chemicals in an iron pipe. The process culminates in these steps: ?Place the jar with the liquid from step 6 in a hot water bath as in step 5. Heat until the entire solution has evaporated. The powder remaining in the jar after evaporation is potassium or sodium nitrate, which constitutes the fifth aiding component.?

A translation of excerpts from the manual is provided to our Intel Service members.


[1] Note: The source of the information in this document is believed to be terrorists? revisions to the U.S.military manual The Improvised Munitions Handbook. Although this report is limited to excerpts from the original source, it shows the precise detail available to terrorists and others. The Improvised Munitions Handbook is available to English speakers through some commercial booksellers. Neither a full English translation of the terrorists? version of the book nor a full Arabic version is available.

[2] Copper sulfate is a fungicide commonly used to control bacterial and fungal diseases of field crops. The chemical is formed of a naturally-occurring inorganic salt and copper, an essential trace element in plant and animal nutrition. Copper sulfate is available as a dust, a wet-able powder, and a fluid concentrate. It is blue and odorless. Source: Extension Toxicology Network. http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/carbaryl-dicrotophos/copper-sulfate-ext.html . Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, MichiganState University, OregonStateUniversity, and Universityof Californiaat Davis.

[3] Such metal picrates are particularly sensitive. Picric acid must never be allowed to dry out, especially on metal or concrete surfaces. First and foremost, experts in chemical handling say that certain steps are most dangerous. The instructions include these statements. ?DO NOT TOUCH THE BOTTLE! … Any attempt to open the bottle could result in enough friction to produce an explosion large enough to blow up a small laboratory. Source: ?Picric Acid and Picrate Salts,? Transport Canada. Online April 7, 2005. http://www.tc.gc.ca/canutec/en/articles/documents/picric.htm .

[4] DDNP is a yellowish brown powder. ?Diazodinitrophenol (DDNP),? Global Security. Online April 7, 2005. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/explosives-primary.htm .

[5] DDNP is often used as an initiating explosive in propellant primer devices. Source: ?Primary Explosives,? Global Security. Online April 7, 2005. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/explosives-primary.htm .

[6] A colorless, odorless crystalline compound that closely resembles potassium nitrate. ?Sodium nitrate,? The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. http://www.bartleby.com/65/so/sodiumni.html.

[7] Potassium nitrate occurs as a colorless, prismatic crystals or a white powder. Source: ?Potassium nitrate.? The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. http://www.bartleby.com/65/po/potasnitr.html.


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