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Terrorism

While the Iran-Iraq war of 1981-1988 saw the only large-scale use of chemical weapons since WWII, in a world beset by rogue states, civil wars, and terrorism, protecting against nerve agents and disposing of them remains a major problem. One bright spot is a team from Northwestern University, which has developed a new material capable of neutralizing nerve gases. The zirconium-based Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) called NU-1000 is not only useful for disposing of stockpiles of such toxins, but also for use in gas masks and protective suits for soldiers and rescue workers. Read More
A global economy brings many benefits, but it also makes international terrorism extremely difficult to combat. With more goods passing through the world's shipping terminals and airports than ever before, hunting explosives with large, static detectors or teams of inspectors armed with detecting devices and reagents is a bottleneck that increases the chances of evasion. To help US counterterrorism efforts, GE has developed RFID stickers that act as wireless, battery-free explosives detectors that can be placed almost anywhere. Read More
In an age plagued by terrorism, the threat posed to the world’s navies and merchant fleets by small craft laden with explosives or crews with automatic weapons is a very real and present danger. To help combat this, the United States Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing a fleet of robotic patrol boats that can not only act as escorts for larger warships or merchant vessels, but can also autonomously swarm around a threatening craft and destroy it. Read More
Avon Protection showcased a new respirator-helmet combination at this week's Counter Terror Expo in London. The HMK150 provides chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protection. It is designed for use in situations such as riot control, where there may be both violence and toxic gases present. Read More
When people make improvised explosive devices (IEDs), many of the waste products end up simply going down the drain. With that in mind, the European Union-funded EMPHASIS consortium is now developing technology to track those chemicals within the waste stream, so that their point of origin can be located. Read More
With pat downs, metal detectors, X-ray machines, and “puffer machines,” catching a plane can see you and your belongings scanned and probed more thoroughly than a trip to the doctor. Yet another explosives-detecting device may soon be added to the airport screening arsenal. However, because the explosives-detecting equipment is integrated into a boarding gate, the developers claim it won’t disrupt the flow of passengers boarding a plane. Read More
Over the next six months, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is releasing a harmless bacterium into the underground train system as part of its “Detect to Protect” program. It’s purpose isn’t to frighten commuters, but to test sensors designed to detect biological weapon attacks. Read More
While improvised explosive devices are certainly not designed to be “safe,” pipe bombs are particularly notorious for being unstable. When police forces respond to calls regarding such bombs, they usually utilize a remote-control bomb disposal robot to disable or detonate them. Unfortunately, this process often results in a loss of forensic evidence, that could be used to track down the bomb-maker. That’s where the Department of Homeland Security’s new Semi Autonomous Pipe Bomb End-cap Remover (SAPBER) comes into play. It’s a device that dismantles pipe bombs, leaving all of their components intact. Read More
In war and disaster, ignorance can be deadly, so it’s important that soldiers and first responders get the information they need as quickly as possible. Dr. Peter White, a scientist with Britain's Ministry of Defence, has invented a handheld device that makes collecting samples and carrying out tests in the field much simpler and faster than previously possible. Developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System (IMASS) can collect samples of and detect eight different substances simultaneously. Read More
Imagine if you were a police officer who suddenly realized that the abandoned vehicle you were assessing contained a bomb. While you might have had some training in how to handle such situations, would it all easily come back to you in the heat of the moment? Well, even if it wouldn’t, you might still know what to do ... if you were using the FiRST app. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed the application for emergency response personnel, to serve as a step-by-step guide for managing bomb threats. Read More
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