First, the story that made me curious:
Iraq violence: Did IS use new type of bomb for deadliest attack?
Most relevant parts of the article:
(Hopefully that isn't too hard to parse - the original was unnecessarily long and double spaced to boot.)The BBC wrote:
...But the scene of the deadliest ever attack carried out by so-called Islamic State (IS) anywhere in the world is still a makeshift shrine. On 3 July, 292 Iraqis lost their lives here...
...But the explosion in Baghdad's Karrada neighbourhood was no ordinary bomb. From its design to its destination, this attack underlines that IS has found a new way to inflict harm and cause terror.
"Daesh used, for the first time, a new tactic which helped it to move undetected through checkpoints," a Western security source in Baghdad tells me, using the name for IS more commonly used in the region.
"We've never seen it before, and it's very worrying."
'Unique' chemical mix
Precise details of the attack, which is under Iraqi investigation, are still being pieced together...
...but this one is said to differ in the way the explosives were placed in the van, and how the chemicals were put together.
"It's really difficult to make," an explosives expert who has knowledge of the investigation explained, saying the device may have been developed in the Iraqi city of Falluja when it was under IS control.
"Daesh has given a lot of thought to how to move through checkpoints."
The bomb-makers are believed to have taken a formula "available on the internet", and then adjusted the quantities to reduce its risk of detection, and increase its impact.
Several Iraqi experts also described the mix of chemicals as "unique".
"We are used to big fires but the chemicals in this bomb were used for the first time in Iraq," says Brigadier General Kadhim Bashir Saleh of the Civil Defense Force.
"It was unique, strange, and terrible."
Another Iraqi security expert, Hisham al-Hashimi, told me he believes a similar mix of explosives may have been used, only once, in an attack by al-Qaeda in 2004.
Okay, so the points that I'm concerned/curious about:
1) What information do we have about this quote-unquote new bomb. Are they implying a thermobaric bomb of some sort was used? Is my memory fooling me when I recollect something about thermobaric weapons requiring pretty sharp engineering (if not also manufacturing) to work correctly? I think I glanced at another article that was either dated or from a less reputable source that implied the bomb produced little shrapnel - this matches my understanding of thermobaric weapons.
2) If this wasn't a thermobaric weapon, what actually makes it special? Novel (for VBIED) chemistry? Chemistry that makes use of benign or very readily-available ingredients?
3) What makes this chemistry or design of bomb so much more concealable? I saw a mention of the use of a refrigerated truck as the transport in another article. Might that be part of the issue? Mostly sealed, kept cold to reduce outgassing of any volatiles, perhaps also not opened to be inspected?
I don't know what I can say about the continued use of (homeopathic? dowsing-based? snake oil? bullshit?) "Bomb detectors." That something like 90% of victims died due to secondary fires because the exits were obstructed is disgusting but I gather fire safety varies from awful to nonexistent in that part of the world. These are lessons to learn from but I doubt many ZHers are in that bad a shape with safety.
Anyone have ideas or less foggy sources? Some folks that seem to know more than they're letting on about the technology seem concerned it could be applicable in western countries.
P.S., let's try to remember the rules and avoid an excess of specifics about the device itself.
P.P.S, sorry if I'm hard to follow or something. I'm in the negative on sleep.