Bomb shown by Isis in Dabiq magazine ‘would be capable of bringing down a plane’, expert says

Exclusive: But explosives engineer casts doubt on ‘Hollywood’ details in militant propaganda

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 18 November 2015 17:17
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The IED Isis says it used to bring down the bomb
The IED Isis says it used to bring down the bomb

The “bomb” shown in Isis’s new propaganda magazine would have had enough explosive force to bring down a passenger jet, a leading expert has told The Independent.

The militant group claimed responsibility for destroying the Russian airliner which came down over Sinai on 31 October, and has now released an image which, it says, shows the bomb used.

While there is no way of verifying the “exclusive” image published in the newest edition of “Dabiq”, it tallies with the latest reports from Russian intelligence that a timed explosive device was snuck in to the main cabin of the Metrojet plane.

Dr Sidney Alford, a British explosives engineer, said that the 300ml can, detonator and timer pictured by Isis would have the potential to take down an airliner if it was close enough to the plane’s outer skin.

“Looking at the size of the can, and assuming the density of plastic explosive, that means a 450g bomb. That, appropriately placed, if at all close to outer skin of the aeroplane and not shielded by a great amount of luggage, would probably bring down a plane.”

The metal grooves of the detonator (pictured middle) could not have been replicated by an amateur bomb maker, meaning it was acquired by Isis from a commercial manufacturer.

And while the switch with a timer makes sense given the details provided by Russian intelligence officials, Dr Alford said Isis appeared to have added a “Hollywood-style red light” for show.

While one light would show that the bomb had been activated, there would be no obvious reason to add a second, he said.

“It looks as if that part is probably fake,” he said. “My reason for suspicion is the second light – I can’t think of any reason why there would be two lamps.”

Despite Dr Alford’s theory about the showiness of the “contrivance”, he confirmed that there were a number of ways a bomb this small could bring down even a large passenger plane.

“If I really wanted to bring down a plane and didn’t know where the bomb was going to be placed, as seems to have happened in this case, I wouldn’t want to use a device any smaller,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be amazed on a big plane if it gave the passengers a hell of a fright but enabled the pilots to land.

“But near a fuel tank or vital electronics or near the outer skin and that’s bad news,” he said.

“I wouldn’t like to be in a plane, even a big one, that had that bomb in it.”

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