Counter-Terrorism: The Profiling Machine


July 21, 2011: The U.S. Army is buying another 160 CounterBomber systems, one of the most effective sensors ever developed for spotting suicide bombers. Over the last four years, this technology based profiling system has evolved into a very effective tool for spotting suicide bombers before they can get to security personnel and kill anyone but themselves.

CounterBomber looks like a small radar set, with two small radar dishes (and two much smaller vidcams), on a tripod. What makes it all work is software that uses the low power radar signals to detect hidden weapons. Two video cameras measure the gait, and other parameters, of the approaching person, and can determine, via a database of how a suicide bombers walk and what they have under their clothing, who might be a suicide bomber. This requires that the person being profiled walk 50-100 meters towards the CounterBomber device. 

Each CounterBomber system costs $300,000, and the U.S. Marine Corps began using it in Iraq three years ago, and the air force followed. The army successfully tested the device two years ago, and began using it Afghanistan a year ago. CounterBomber has a simple computer interface, and troops can quickly be trained how to use and maintain the system. CounterBomber could, in theory, be deceived by a suicide bomber trained to consistently walk differently, along with a very different arrangement of bomb components they are wearing. So far, the suicide bomber operations have not been able to implement such countermeasures. Apparently CounterBomber keeps updating its bomber characteristics database, but all that stuff is, understandably, highly secret.



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