Suspicious Packages From Yemen (10)

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Homeland Terror Alerts, Suspicious Packages From Yemen (10)

What is PETN? US-bound packages  contained the  explosive, similar to  Christmas Day underwear bomber 

BY Aliyah Shahid
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER 

Saturday, October 30th 2010, 11:37 AM

Dubai Police via Emirates News AgencyParts of a computer printer with explosives loaded into its toner cartridge found on Friday. It was onboard a cargo  plane coming from Yemen. The explosive, PETN was found in the packages. 

Lots of damage in small quantities. 

That’s the premise behind PETN—the explosive white powder found in the packages being shipped from Yemen to the U.S.—setting of an international
terror scare on Friday.

It seems to be the weapon of choice for terrorists in recent years, including by the failed, Christmas Day underwear bomber in 2009.

But why?  And what exactly is PETN? And how concerned should we be?

Pentaerythritol trinitrate is preferred because it’s colorless, odorless, and cannot easily be detected. It’s triggered by heat or a shockwave — just 100
grams of it is enough to destroy a car.

It’s also a component of Semtex—a general purpose plastic explosive used in commercial blasting and demolition. And it’s not hard to get—it can be
collected by scraping the insides of wires.

James Crippin, a Colorado-based explosives expert told CBS News that it’s a favorite among terrorists because it’s stable and safe to handle. But it also
requires a primary explosive to detonate it.

PETN has been used in a number of attacks linked to al-Qaeda. On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab hid PETN in his underwear when he traveled from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The suspicious packages from Friday contained at least three times the amount of PETN than what the
underwear bomber had, according to reports.

The packages were eventually tracked down and detained in Dubai and London after a Saudi Arabian
tipster alerted the U.S. to the terror plot.

The explosive was also a component that Richard

 

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Reid, the convicted “shoe bomber” used in his 2001 attempt to bring down a Miami-bound flight. 

Saudi officials said PETN was also used in an assassination attempt against the head of the
country’s counterterrorism chief last year.

Investigators in Yemen said on Friday that they are examining nearly two dozen more suspicious
packages that terrorists attempted to smuggle out of the country.

 

 

 

Terror experts say it’s harder to keep track of where packages come from given the wide reach the
delivery companies have.

“We don’t want to presume we know the bounds of this plot,” John Brennan, President Obama’s top
counterrorism adviser said. “So we are looking at all packages.”

http://www.youtube.com/v/Lyrj8mKGXEc&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3

ashahid@nydailynews.com

With News Wire Services

 

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