New Generation Of Bombs Undetectable By Airport Scanners: What's The Solution?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In response to Homeland Security Ponders Laptop Ban On All International Flights: Surefire Way to Stop Bombs on Planes reader Brindu sent a pair of interesting links discussing new bombs that airport scanners cannot detect.

Please consider U.S. Believes ISIS’ Bomb-Making Research Includes New Generation of Explosives.

Amid the bombed-out ruins of Mosul University, U.S. officials say they have uncovered evidence that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was developing a new type of bomb that could pass through an airport scanner undetected.


CBS News joined Iraqi Special Forces in Mosul just days after the hard-fought battle to recapture the University in January. It’s long been believed that Mosul University was the center of the militants’ bomb-making projects, using the school’s equipment and labs.


Now, U.S. officials believe that research includes a new generation of more powerful explosives that could be concealed in a computer.


When ISIS overran Mosul in 2014, they also captured the city’s international airport. And with it, all the modern security scanner and screening equipment necessary to test their new bombs.

Professional Pilots Discussion

The Professional Pilots Rumor Network, PPRuNE Website, has a discussion on undetectable bombs.

Dubaian: What’s to stop ISIS putting this clever new ‘undetectable’ stuff in pretty well anything a PAX might take on board. And it’d be easier than replumbing a laptop.

Peekay4: A working explosive is composed of several elements. These elements can be disguised within a laptop, large tablet, etc. Put them into a box of chocolates or a can of Pringles, they would be very easy to detect.

EDLB: What can they detect in checked luggage but not in a carry-on?

Peekay4: Not going into specifics but part of the reason for requiring them in checked luggage is not only for detection but also isolation (containment).

Lomapaseo: Containment from what? If they go boom as baggage the damage is variable as hell based on location. If they go boom in the cabin the damage is predictable based on seat location and/or overhead storage which is specific by PNR (boarding pass). And then there is the fire hazard from a typical LI cheap battery in passenger luggage. In the overhead or cabin, it’s specific in location and ability to assess and contain.

Infrequentflyer789: If they go boom in the cabin the damage is predictable based on exactly where the attacker decides to set it off, which is nothing to do with a boarding pass. A small boom set by a clever attacker in the right place is going to be as big a threat as a large boom placed randomly, and that’s before we get onto stuff like shaped charges and really clever placement.

Edmundronald: This will make Chromebooks and other net-connected empty-shell computers the tool of choice for biz travelers. Rent one or buy a cheap one as soon as you touch down.

RTD1: Rather, this will result in a massive push towards video conferencing/telepresence in lieu of business travel. I’ve been a management/technology consultant flying weekly for 20 years now, and if this ban were extended to all domestic and international flights, I’d likely either find an alternative to in-person meetings or switch careers if it were not feasible. I haven’t checked a bag (save for gate checking carry-ons on puddle jumpers) in years. I keep my timelines from landing to meeting starts pretty tight, and I count on flying time for working. I’m not unique, such a rule would be devastating for business travel.

Pax Britanica: There is always an element of business travel that is not really necessary but its hard line to draw between beneficial and essential. There are also events like conferences where most of the attendees don’t’ actually attend but meet with peers from other companies and do business just because a lot of people from one industry are in the same place. Ie the conference itself isn’t really ‘necessary’ but it’s a good opportunity to meet clients and suppliers without doing separate trips. Video links are usually fine for inside the company work and some external stuff but many cultures like the physical presence bit.

Mickjoebill: What about camera crews and photographers who carry kilos of lumpy electronic gear onboard? It is trivial to provide enough power to activate a camera to make the battery appear unadulterated when the cells have been repacked with something deadly.Unless every item is sniffed, a laptop ban seems half arsed.

ISIS Knows What We Know About Them

The preceding comment by Mickjoebill gets to the heart of the matter. And that was the point of my satirical suggestion on a  Surefire Way to Stop Bombs on Planes.

ISIS knows, that we know, that they had been working on laptops. As a result, ISIS will likely shift to an electronic toy or camera equipment (as I suggested in my post).

FAA Traffic by the Numbers

In 2105, the FAA Traffic by Numbers website shows some interesting air traffic statistics.

  • There were 8,727,691 commercial flights in 2015.
  • There are 7,000 planes in the sky at any given time.
  • There are 23,911 flights a day

Convenience vs Safety

Does it make sense to ban all laptops on all flights as they are discussing now?

Banning laptops alone is insufficient. It is impossible to eliminate all airplane risk without banning all flights.

Reader Maxx offered this pertinent thought:

At some point to unravel a knot, you have to start pulling on the other end of the string. Technology chasing technology only goes so far.


For all the time spent harassing a new mom about baby formula, we could be using those hours to interview a 20-year-old “quiet” male with no real friends and an extensive Facebook trail to a Pakistani ISP.


When are people going to wake up and realize politically correct bull&h!t is FATAL. This is costing our economy enormously.

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lakecity55's picture

Bomb chemicals can be detected.

You need sniffers.

Meanwhile, I am not flying anywhere.

Troy Ounce's picture



Well, the US could get their weapons, soldiers and advisors out of countries were they do not belong.

That would solve 99% of the problem.

911 was apparently not engough of a warning?

You sow violence, you reap violence.

Kotzbomber747's picture

This whole laptop-ban is typical for the entire aviation industry: the tail is wagging the dog.

By the way, don't believe too much you read on PPRuNe. IMHO it's a propaganda website, where they actively censor anyone that is too critical of aviation, especially the total deterioration of working conditions. It used to be really good when it was still owned by the original founder (a British chap named Danny) and was full of lively discussions, but it was bought up by an American (NSA?CIA?) (shell)company a few years ago, and then they started throwing the book at anyone who was making too many waves.

A great example is the fact that any topics regarding a certain airline of the Middle East are stictly prohibited, because otherwise they immediately send in lawyers!

IMHO it's nothing more than another collection of IP addresses, disguised as a discussion platform, of people who are considered "troublemakers," a perfect tool for the big airlines to silence the messenger.

Astroturf ALERT!

In the mean time, the politicians, aviation regulators and the mainstream media continue to fight the symptoms, rather than the causes of religious extremism with more knee-jerk 'measures' like the liquid ban of roughly 10 years ago.

"We can't let the terrorists win?" They have already won, and the politicians make sure that they will continue to win!

A_V's picture

They banned chocolate...can be confused with plastic explosives...

Kotzbomber747's picture

p.s. most professional pilots are livid and extremely worried about laptops/cameras/any battery powered item in the cargo hold as checked in luggage, simply because battery fires can not be suppressed by the usual means of Halon fire extinguishers.

A UPS cargo 747 and also an Asiana cargo 747 were lost in the last 10 years due to runnaway battery fires of the consumer electronics goods they had on board.

Yet the aviation regulators continue to turn a blind eye, because in aviation it's "money first, safety last!" Thank you deregulation! Thank you EUSSR and EASA!

overbet's picture

The interview reminds me of when I used to watch America Greed series. They give you enough info its almost like a mini tutorial or at least a point in the right direction.

Mr 9x19's picture

BAN AIRPLANES ! way too dangerous, terrorists use it to commit plane crash


and while at it, ban terrorists too ....


this world is fubar

bluez's picture

Everybody with a science background has known that undetectable explosives exist.

Also, very cheap new sodium / glass electrolyte batteries will soon be produced that are much better than lithium (will never grow explosive "whiskers") have been developed. Elon Musk's $multi-billion lithium battery factory is completely obsolete.

Electric cars are not the future (where will the electricity come from?). Diesel cars are the real future. Ethanol biofuel will never work, but diesel biofuel will.

Diatom's picture

...and the award for the fucking dumbest comment of the month goes to...









Tall Tom's picture




It really does not matter as...




Check out the Video Instruction guide. (Yes. Lithium Batteries are fun.) And you can learn in only 2:39 seconds how to do it. Two Minutes and Thirty Nine Seconds.


It is too easy to make a bomb.


But who wants to die when they can live to take out even more targets? Why will someone board a jet when the fact is that Airline Jets are just too easy to SHOOT DOWN.


An Kinetic Energy impact of 26 Dynes shuts down the Jer Engine...That is a built in FAIL SAFE designed to limit damage after a "Bird Strike",


Yet the jet engines need to be operational to stop the jet on today's short runways. Without exhaust vectoring thust reversers the jets will run out of runway quick.  And that leads to disaster.


One only needs to target the engines with a high caliber high velocity weapon when the jet is on approach. And at 50 foot one cannot miss that slow oncoming and ever growing target.


Of course one can target the cockpit afterwards to neutralize the flight crew.


Why board a jet that one intends to destroy?


This tactic is known by every Military Serviceman returning from the Middle East. It is no secret that commercial jets can be shot down as insurgents have been doing that. In response landing approaches have been securitied and the jets appraoavh Baghdad International on steep appraoches.




Good luck with restricting those areas in most metropolitan areas in the United States as it is not feasible. You'd have to close many Freeways.


Have fun flying the Friendly Skies.


I hope that you feel safe.



yarpos's picture

UPS and Asian carried bulk battery shipments, of hundreds or thousands of kg's.   I dont think there has been an aircraft loss due to a battery in a normal consumer product.  Could be wrong but dont recall one. 

philipat's picture

I'm guessing that the US carriers will suffer disproportionately whatever they decide to do. Which somehow seems appropriate? Might put them out of their misery as many like myself refuse to fly them anyway because of their poor excuse for "service".

OverTheHedge's picture

For years, I have toyed with a book plot about corporate wars, and the Malaysia airlines problem was a prime example of corporal terrorism being financially lucrative. Not saying that there was anything other than government terrorism involved, but losing two planes in a year put paid to their business model. Imagine if you had (anonymously) shorted Malaysia Airlines, and been in a position to buy out routes, gain passengers at their expense etc. The incentive for one airline to physically attack another is pretty clear, and in a dog-eat-dog world, may the most callous, aggressive and politically connected win.

Oh, I will never write the book, so if anyone else wants to have a go....

Canoe Driver's picture

Those aircraft were not downed by consumer devices, but by pallets of thousands of lithium batteries.

East Indian's picture

battery fires can not be suppressed by the usual means of Halon fire extinguishers


In India, power banks and Samsung Galaxy 7 must be carried only in hand luggage.

weburke's picture

The reason some faction is so pissed is that trump destroyed the planned new 911 by banning laptops and telling Putin about them. The laptops had capacity to take over the plane electronically. Not a bomb. NOT a bomb. So, do you really think muslims can figure out how to configure a laptop to control a plane?

Croesus's picture

What part of a plane's electronics are always connected to the web, and therefore accessible from the outside?

I imagine most aren't, but if they are, the easy solution would be to equip planes with signal jammers, so they can cut remote connections.

Nobody on a flight needs internet access THAT badly.

weburke's picture

Plenty of private wireless communication amongst parts of plane.

A_V's picture

Clueless pacifist....

I guess the attack on teenage girls was retaliation for teenage girls singing goofy songs...

fattail's picture

The attack, from my perspective of the attackers perspective, was a reconciliation of the pain and suffering of people on the wrong end of the US foreign policy stick to the collective people who supported the policy and the politicians that sold it to them.   Not on an individual level, but collectively.  Was it ethical?  No.  Was it moral? No.  Was it effective?  In his mind, he would probably see it as effective.

When you go abroad searching for monsters to destroy, some times you find them.

opport.knocks's picture

Part 1 correct.
Part 2 incorrect, it was just the pretext for doing the opposite of Part 1

The problem is that the seeds of violence have been sown so far and wide that the are coming no matter what,

Endgame Napoleon's picture

The U.S. business moguls could also focus on investing in their own country and providing jobs in their own country. Are conferences at fancy hotels around the globe necessary, like the one described by a financial services manager. She sauntered out of her office one day, telling her slew of $10/hr momma-clique employees that her big problem was one-upping last year's Chippendale strippers at one of the yearly conventions. She was considering clowns as a substitute. Meanwhile, her most productive employee, i.e, the one churning out most of the harder reports, was a former momma whose womb could no longer churn out kids to qualify her for free food, subsidized rent and, in her case, not the max Child Tax Credit of $6,269, but just the min of $3,337.

At that point in her reproductive (I mean work) life, she was like the few screwed, childless, single workers who are hired/retained in financial services jobs where unearned income is required to finance major household bills. She was trying to live on an earned-only income of $20k, with no access to womb-based, monthly wage supplements from taxpayers, a spousal income or child support from an ex spouse to boost up her income. Like her childless counterparts, she now had a tax return of $300 or less that did not enable her to repair her old jalopy. Their best employee -- the one they verbally patted on the head during meetings -- could no longer even get the consolation of the momma-clique, excused-absenteeism privileges.

I have been in sales for many years and owned a shop, albeit a small one. Maybe, these Chippendale-dancer conferences are about the clients. I doubt it. I also never noticed a return on the effort when my ex and I set up booths to advertise our product or fraternized with other businesspeople during "events." I did notice a tremendous return just from doing a good job in designing and crafting the product, going above and beyond for customers, and doing favors on price when we could. That brings word-of-mouth business. Empathy from fellow merchants in the same boat is important for small businesses.

I doubt that the Chippendale glitz would be anything but a distraction from establishing those bonds. I guess it does help restaurants and hotels stay afloat. But all these environmentalists would have less to b**** about if so much jet fuel were not wasted. It seems like videoconferences would be safer than air travel to attend a Chippendale conference, not to mention cheaper and less distracting from business.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture



I don't see Costa Rica having a terrorist problem, but they also don't feel they have the right to topple governments they don't like.



ejmoosa's picture

Agreed.  Once the common enemy has withdrawn, they have always turned on each other.

lew1024's picture

9-11 was a false flag operation by the US CIA and Israeli Mossad.

It was a warning that our own intelligence services are the existential threat to Constitutional Government.

kellys_eye's picture


Start by cutting the PC BS and using POSITIVE PROFILING.

Then make all the 'usual suspects' travel on their own aircraft together.

Aviation apartheid - somehow I don't feel the least bit embarrassed to mention it......

Von Berger's picture

You can do the same with all the usual suspects in the UK Banish them all to the Isle of Mull, it's inhabitants are sheep!! The sheepshaggers should feel right at home.

CJgipper's picture

Wait wait wait.  You mean we should focus on people instead of inanimate objects used billions of times per say with no ill consequences?   Crazy talk man.  Completely insane.

lew1024's picture

And it is all BS, too many false positives and a few missed false negatives make it unworkable to focus on suspects. It is the same problem as predicting terrorists, and the intelligence agencies can't, won't, or foster them. Why would someone in an air terminal have better luck?

Which means, either make the world peaceful and accepting again, or give up air travel.

Lacking the means to make the world peaceful, I can't even influence my own government, I gave up air travel.

Anteater's picture

The solution is more airport travel insurance kiosks selling high-premium offerings with tiny 4-point font disclaimers 'Void if acts of War or acts of God,...pretty much like Trump's new IDon'tCare version of AHA: you pay the same mandatory premium, but no longer are covered for pre-existing conditions, ...which is anything your GP finds and sends you to a Specialist for, lol.

poetic justice's picture

The solution... Muslims to fly solely on Islamic Airlines. 

Meanwhile...  Search term, ISISHQ and you will begin to see who the real perps are of the contrived ISIS threat. Note the sloppy re badging of their Website to SIS, with many original references to ISIS in place. 


Almost forgot. Fire all the job stealing Mossie Baggage Handlers and Security. That should go a long way to improving safety.




Lost in translation's picture

Drive, don't fly.

Flying is for muppets.

CitizenPete's picture

That won't insulate you from the ZOG. Driving yesterday from east of Cleveland to Sandusky Ohio, I saw US Border Control agents sitting in the median. I have heard of TSA searching plebs at train stations, bus depots, and in HOTELS. HOTELS.

Anteater's picture

I had a TSA agent scold me to pull my work jeans up, like he was talking to a Special Ed. That made me forget to take my wrist-watch off, and that set off their bomb detector. After the pat-down and anal probe, they dumped my bag back in the tray with everything torn out of it, and I had to run to the gate holding my pants up because I couldn't find my belt, ha, ha. America the Beautiful, baby. I'll never sing the Stars and Stripes again.

imaginalis's picture

You only need to drive to drink moonshine on some relatives porch. Some people need to fly to cross oceans.

rent slave's picture

Exactly.See the USA in your Chevrolet.

Megaton Jim's picture

Everytime a plane gets blown up,  nuke a city in the Middle East!

A_V's picture

Blow up MINA first....then explain how MECCA will see double the carnage...

CJgipper's picture

That's how Mohhamad commands Muslims to negotiate.  We need to speak to them in a language they can comprehend.  Hearts and minds ain't their language.  Blood is.

just the tip's picture

Everytime a plane gets blown up,  nuke langley.  the next time new york city.  the next time london.  the next time tel aviv.  the next time riyadh.

attempted to FIFY.  actually i know the sequence will piss some folks off.  it's not alphabetical.

nmewn's picture

I guess I'm having a memory lapse or just not enough coffee yet...when was the last bombing of a commercial jet in flight?

Ghordius's picture

after the next coffee, you'll recollect that 9/11 was done with US domestic flights, and the very first thing that got beefed up security was... foreign flights flying to the US from elsewhere

I remember a few european teenagers I picked up after they watched "Kill Bill" complaining on the back seats how stupid Hollywood takes them to be, by believing that a gal in a yellow motorbike suit is allowed to fly with a Japanese sword next to her seat

I had to explain to them that in the US, it's literally normal to fly with your gun, if you want to. those were different times, and the past is a different country

nmewn's picture

Not sure there was any explosives employed by the hijackers, back then passengers were told (like rape victims used to be) to just remain calm and let the authoritahs handle it...that seemed to work out...well, actually no, I guess it didn't.

But to address your humor (which was funny in my opinion by the way) IF everyone on those flights was armed there wouldn't have been a hijacking. Can you imagine the cross fire directed towards the perp when the first one stood up to declare it? ;-)

Joe A's picture

Can you imagine the decompression and the breakup of the plane that would follow if the flight was in midair and everybody would shoot their bullets through the fuselage?

Actually, I can't imagine. Has there every been any research on this? Other than MH17? Which was not research of course just some dumb fucks thinking it would be a good idea to shoot a rocket at an unverified plane.

nmewn's picture

Thats kind of a myth, the holes would be too small, it would of course decompress (obviously) but no one gets sucked out. This naturally assumes everyone misses their target while shooting randomly at the windows, leaving the guy standing there screaming alooo snack bar ;-)

MK13's picture

Tell me what decompression of appendage through small hole looks like;)?

imaginalis's picture

You think people will stick their fingers in the holes?

nmewn's picture

Only if they are past or present morbidly obese TSA screening agents doing the only jobs former welfare queens will do.

"You can professionalize if you unionize!"  ;-)