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'Binary Explosives' Video

Netlore Archive


Online video purports to show the manufacture of a binary explosive small enough to be hidden in a pen and powerful enough to 'vaporize' a watermelon.

Description: Viral video
Circulating since: 2006
Status: Dubious

Example #1:
Email contributed by Marilyn C., Jan. 7, 2010:

FW: Binary explosives

For anyone traveling, watch out for anyone trying to light a pen, their shoes or sadly their crotch. This last guy could have blown that airliner out of the sky. So, it is up to us all to keep a sharp eye out, and error on the side of caution.

Stay safe my friends, and pass this on, or anything else that we all need to be aware of.

Can something like this even be found??? Will the "x-ray" machine "see" this?????

Example #2:
Email contributed by Jreim, Jan. 31, 2009:

Subject: Fwd: FW: Binary Explosives - This will definitely get your attention!

This video clip is slow paced and the captions very clearly explain what is happening.

This makes Richard Reed the airline shoe bomber look like he was playing with silly putty. After seeing this, I have to ask myself do I ever want to take the risk of flying on a commercial airliner again. Mean while our national politicians are blowing off the threat of terrorism.

This looks like a European Military video, possibly British. Binary explosive has been continually improved upon in the Middle East, and other areas of discontent for some time now, I'm somewhat surprised that its existence has not been noted more by the intrusive media here in the U.S. What's impressive is the explosive velocity of the compound.

This stuff is not commonly held but available on the black market. Well placed explosives in today's modern society can do irreparable damage.

One has to wonder why anyone in their right mind wants to let up in any way on terrorists.

Example #3:
Email contributed by Jodi C., Jan. 25, 2007:

Binary Explosives - What one drop can do

Many people dismissed the danger of carrying tooth paste and the like aboard an aircraft. Here's the reason. Witness the explosive power contained in one drop of binary explosive and consider the results of detonating a tooth paste tube size of binary aboard an aircraft. Most importantly, the recipe for this material is available on the internet.

In case you need to be reminded why you should be concerned about terrorists.

You need high speed/ broadband. Click on the below web address and see the one drop explosion.


Analysis: There are a number of unknowns about this video, not least of which are who made it, and why. It's been circulating on the Internet since 2006, always accompanied by dire warnings about traveling on airplanes. The only point of it seems to be to frighten potential airline passengers — as if that hadn't already been accomplished by actual terrorists.

Despite the allusions to the "Shoe bomber" incident of 2001 and the "Underpants Bomber" of 2009, the explosives used in those failed attempts bore little resemblance to the one allegedly demonstrated in the video. Both Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab were carrying a colorless crystalline material called PETN (pentaerythritol trinitrate). The amount each succeeded in smuggling on board was significantly larger than what is shown in the video.

The video has generated quite a bit of skepticism since it first appeared, with many expressing doubt that such a small quantity of explosive (one drop the size of a match head) could literally "vaporize" a watermelon. Skeptics also note what appears to be a wire running up the post to the underside of the watermelon (see detail #1) and theorize it may have been used to detonate some other type of explosive. They also note that in the single frame of the video documenting the "vaporization" (see detail #2), the detonation appears to occur on the side of the object opposite that to which the explosive-containing pen was attached.

Lastly, if the "binary explosive" allegedly demonstrated in this video is indeed so rare it has to be purchased on the black market, it must be very expensive indeed. Why would someone waste it blowing up a watermelon?

I don't have the requisite ordnance expertise to be able to tell you with any certainty whether or not the explosion was faked, but I can tell you that the video has all the earmarks of a hoax. View it with skepticism.

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Sources and further reading:

FBI Paper Says Explosive Was the Same Used by Shoe Bomber
McClatchy Newspapers, 27 December 2009

Mixing Explosive Is Scarily Easy
Sunday Times, 27 December 2009

Experts Say Anyone Who's Determined to Smuggle Bomb Components onto a Flight Can Do So
Journal Sentinel, 29 December 2009

Last updated 01/12/10

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