Monday, July 02, 2007
Car bomb test ends in fiery blast
With a flash and a roar, the fireball erupted dozens of feet in the air. A nearby building was incinerated and pieces of metal spewed hundreds of feet away.

If this explosion had been part of a terrorist attack in downtown London, who knows how many innocent people would have been killed, burned or wounded. Fortunately, this blast was part of a test we commissioned by the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at New Mexico Tech. Experts here built a car bomb using the same materials investigators say the UK terrorists used in their failed attacks on London and the Glasgow airport.

As I watched the Jeep Cherokee used in this test get blown to bits, two very important points became clear:

1) almost anyone can assemble this kind of car bomb as it uses gasoline and tanks of propane
2) fortunately for the people of London, these bombs are not easy to detonate.

We learned from our test that the UK terrorists probably lacked the training and knowledge to properly set off the liquid gasses. If their plot had succeeded, the damage and loss of life from this kind of bomb would have been localized, but the terror it inflicted would have spread across the United Kingdom and around the world with the ensuing video beamed via international TV networks and the Internet.

As we surveyed the blast sight, I couldn't believe how far some of the debris had scattered -- 150 yards away, a ruptured propane tank (the same kind you would attach to your backyard grill) had come to rest in the desert dirt. As I looked at it, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened to the unlucky person who might have been standing there.


-- By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 6:24 PM ET
  7 Comments
Its hard to believe these UK terror plots are connected to Al Queda even though everything seems to be pointing to just that. The lack of sophistication and planning make them sound almost amateurish. However as you've demonstrated they could certainly cause a lot of injury and loss of life. We have to wonder what's next.
Posted By Bev Ontario Canada : 6:50 PM ET
Hello David,
These terrorist plots in the UK are really frightening!
The war on terror is not going nearly as well as the war on the environment! UGH!
I am looking forward to the report tonight on 360. I do hope this is an isolated incident.
Thanks David. Be careful out there~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 7:13 PM ET
Nothing like seeing a live simulation to bring the gravity of the situation home is there? Easy to make, hard to detonate, but just their presence does the job intended - to spread terror and fear. And that is all that is needed perhaps for the folks responsible for these things.

With the ones in the UK it makes you wonder when our next turn is..just hope we are ready. Thanks for your reporting and stay safe.
Posted By Suzanne, Knoxville TN : 7:58 PM ET
I admire your effort to conduct this experiment. To see how much damage a car bomb can cause is really shocking and I feel all the more relieved it hadn't explode in the airport.

I was also shocked to know how easy it is and what a little money they need to make this kind of bomb. That's too cheap to claim too many people's lives.
Posted By Mio, Oita, Japan : 12:00 AM ET
The reality of being attacked by terrorists here in the U.S. is unlikely. It is more a ploy used by republicans to master mind the weak minded. The terrorist know that if they were to attack us again it would unite the country and that is not to their benifit. They know that there is a divide in this country and would play in the hands of those that favored the Iraq invasion. At the present time the terror fear is just bumper sticker rhetoric...indeed.
Posted By Gabriel Acosta Terlingua, TX : 12:27 AM ET
David...first the giant carp, now this? :) Do you volunteer for these assignments or does CNN have something against you? :)

Seriously, thanks for covering this segment.

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 1:40 AM ET
George W. Bush is blamed for Hurricane Katrina (inadequate attention to global warming), and just now on your program, blamed for an increase in terrorist attacks worldwide since our incursions into Afganistan and Iraq. He must, therefore, be responsible for the absense of terrorist attacks on our homeland since 9/11/2001.
Posted By Jim Hunter, Page, AZ : 2:55 AM ET
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