For Mujahideen, bomb-making information readily accessible online

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 15

Images displayed on an Islamist forum illustrate bomb-making methods for do-it-yourself mujahideen

The controversy stirred up in the United Kingdom over the details given by the New York Police Department on commonly available materials used in the July 7 London bombings would actually appear to users of jihadi forums as of no particular interest.

The details, described as ‘unhelpful’ by British counterparts, were released during the course of a briefing given by NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, where the commonplace nature of the explosive materials used was intended as a measure to increase vigilance.

Yet the information available on the Internet to would-be bombers makes the controversy largely irrelevant.

The material itself, Acetone Peroxide (used allegedly for bombings in London and Casablanca) is given a detailed treatment in a jihadi forum [], which hosts an “Al-Aqsa Encyclopedia” compiled by one ‘Dr. Doom’, which specializes in the art. Incongruously sitting opposite a contents list of Qur’anic commentaries, Hadith studies and chapters on Muslim law, including monographs on “Weddings in Paradise”, the section “Military Preparation” contains a heading on “The Science of Explosives.” It maps out the following:

First principles in the science of explosives

The composition of explosives

The influence of oxygen on explosives

Other factors influencing explosion

Chemical properties for explosives

Stabilization of chemicals

The physics of explosives (biophysics)

Explosive gas pressure

Under the section ‘manufacture’ the Encyclopedia lists an article available on Peroxide Acetone, followed by ‘forthcoming’ treatments on:

Nitro starch



‘…and much more, God willing.’

The exhaustiveness of the treatment of Peroxide Acetone is demonstrated by the elaborate specifications given on a hyperlink, which details the mass, density, boiling point, distillation and speed of detonation, in addition to molecular diagrams and detailed ingredient lists on manufacture. The article gives photographic step-by-step illustration of the preparation method and also provides extensive details on storage requirements. Full warnings are given on the sensitivity of the explosive to friction, heat and agitation and contact with acidic substances, and an advice to prepare the explosive as soon as possible to the time of its deployment.

The mujahid reader can also access video films illustrating in detail the manufacture and detonation processes, and both the thoroughness and the matter-of-fact economy of the whole article indicates that it was produced (or translated) by a highly trained expert in the field.

Other forums have been just as fruitful for aspiring mujahideen. The al-Ma’sada site posted details on explosives manufacture, often in the form of correspondence. The following from last November is typical:

“A question. Concerning Ammonium Nitrate — if it comes in the shape of gun pellets, does it need to be coated in an insulating substance, or is it ready for use as it is? When it comes to destroying buildings, what is the most powerful mixture for nitrates, and are nitrates of 46% nitrogen content ready for use directly, and without any further admixture? God grant thee ample reward”

“God willing, I can answer both your questions … [details then follow of the correct quantities]. Also, on the following [web] page you can find all the details just about Ammonium Nitrates. Read it carefully and you won’t be bored…”

Another posting on the same forum in January provided no less than 64 detailed recipes for explosives production, including the full text of what it terms the “Mujahideen Terrorist Handbook”, an American publication which lists, among other things, ‘Buying explosives and propellants’, ‘useful household chemicals and availability’, ‘preparation of chemicals’, ‘explosives recipes,’ ‘ignition devices’, ‘lists of suppliers’ and a ‘checklist for raids on labs’, prioritizing the materials to be stolen.

“Almost any city or town of reasonable size” the manual explains, “has a gun store and a pharmacy. These are two of the places that potential terrorists visit in order to purchase explosive material. All that one has to do is know something about the non-explosive uses of the materials …”

As to the detonation method of using alarms on cell phones, mentioned in the briefing by Commissioner Raymond Kelly, this too has long been standard fare on the Internet. A posting last November on al-Ma’sada was a detailed response to a request for the essential missing part for a detonation system that employed an electronic circuit that would automatically turn on the phone. The answer was given with the customary self-absolvement of responsibility: “Do not use these files against any Muslim, we bear witness to God that we are innocent of anyone who does that… These files are provided for the aim of spreading Good among Muslims, and to prepare them for Jihad … Fear God, and do not undertake anything until you have consulted with people of judgment and wisdom.”

Articles such as these form part of the extensive literature on military materiel transmitted by the Internet on the more technical aspects of jihad. The most comprehensive of these manuals is the exhaustive Mawsu’at al-I’dad, (Encyclopedia of Preparation) which is nothing less than a massive contents list made up of URLs leading to further pages, with ever more sub-categorized URLs covering weaponry manufacture and deployment, guerrilla warfare, training and tactics. As indicated by Terrorism Focus article “A Guide to Jihad on the Web” (see Focus, Volume 2, Issue 7) the “Encyclopedia of Preparation” is now available in CD form. The anxieties of the UK police force in this respect, while understandable, are in the final analysis misplaced, since the Internet has long been used by mujahideen to distribute the information to within a few taps of the keyboard.