Weapons: Losing Your Head Over Fertilizer



May 3, 2007: The recent sound up of nearly 200 al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the terrorists were quite enthusiastic about making, and using, "fertilizer bombs." This pattern has been noted with al Qaeda cells in Britain and the United States (where the FBI raided one cell in the 1990s, while they were mixing the fertilizer and fuel oil, to create the explosive mixture) as well. Many computers, and much email, was captured along with all these terrorists, and the subject of fertilizer bombs came up again and again.

So Saudi Arabia has decided to make it much more difficult to obtain fertilizer (which tends to contain a lot of the nitrates that make things go "boom" ) and other chemical concoctions that can be easily turned into explosives. Only four firms will be allowed to import these chemicals, and buyers must be licensed as well. This will not make it impossible for terrorists to get these materials, but by infusing the chemicals with inert chemical markers (sort of a chemical fingerprint) and creating a prominent paper trail, it will make it much easier to track down those responsible. Knowing this, fewer people will be willing to risk getting involved. Taking a bribe is one thing, getting your head cut off because of terrorist activities is quite another.

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