The pressure cooker bombs that were used in the Boston Marathon attacks have been a staple of al-Qaida for years — and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has known about their use by terrorists since at least 2004.
“The pressurized cooker is the most effective method,” said an article in the first issue of al-Qaida’s magazine, Inspire, published in July 2010.
The English-language magazine is published online, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“Glue shrapnel to the inside of the pressurized cooker then fill the cooker with inflammable material,” the article said. A small light bulb can be used as a detonator, according to the al-Qaida article.
The report continued: “Place the device in a crowded area. Camouflage the device with something that would not hinder the shrapnel such as cardboard.”
“You need to also include shrapnel,” the article said, according to the Free Beacon. “The best shrapnel are the spherical shaped ones.”
Also, “sniffing dogs are not trained to recognize them as bomb-making ingredients,” the article said.
“In one or two days the bomb could be ready to kill at least 10 people,” the article said. “In a month you may make a bigger and more lethal bomb that could kill tens of people.”
The article then explained that two types of explosions can be made from kitchen materials — chemical and mechanical blasts — and the story revealed how to make a pipe bomb from match heads and sugar.
According to the FBI, the two bombs that killed three and injured 176 — including 17 who remain in critical condition — near the finish line of the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon were fashioned from pressure cookers and packed with metal shards, nails and ball bearings to inflict maximum carnage.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said that pieces of black nylon and fragments of ball bearings and nails were recovered, The Associated Press reports, and that authorities believed the bombs were placed in dark-colored backpacks or bags.
A source close to the investigation told the AP that the bombs were made in 1.6-gallon pressure cookers, one containing shards of metal and ball bearings, the other packed with nails — and both stuffed into duffel bags.
The Boston Globe
reported on Tuesday that investigators recovered a circuit board that they believed was used to detonate the bombs.
The explosives, placed on the ground within 100 feet of each other, were detonated about 12 seconds apart, the Globe reports.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has been on notice about pressure cooker bombs since 2004 — six years before the al-Qaida article was published, The Washington Post reports.
According to an internal DHS memo published on Tuesday in the Post, the bombs were described as “a technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.”
The memo then outlines many of the details disclosed in the al-Qaida article:
“Typically, these bombs are made by placing TNT or other explosives in a pressure cooker and attaching a blasting cap at the top of the pressure cooker. The size of the blast depends on the size of the pressure cooker and the amount of explosive placed inside.
“Pressure cooker bombs are made with readily available materials and can be as simple or as complex as the builder decides,” the DHS memo continued. “These types of devices can be initiated using simple electronic components including, but not limited to, digital watches, garage door openers, cell phones or pagers.
“As a common cooking utensil, the pressure cooker is often overlooked when searching vehicles, residences or merchandise crossing the U.S. Borders,” the memo added.
Similar pressure cooker explosives were used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, according to a July 2010 intelligence report by the FBI and Homeland Security, the AP reports.
Also, one of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing was a pressure cooker, the report said.
“Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack,” the 2010 report said.
The 2004 DHS memo mentioned plots that had been foiled in France and Jammu, India, the Post reports.
In 2006, seven pressure cooker bombs killed more than 200 people in the Mumbai train attacks in India, according to the Post.
Besides the pressure cookers, Rep. Peter King suggested that al-Qaida may well be enlisting Americans in a possible wave of new attacks.
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