Brussels strike: Terrorists had materials for 10 more large bombs

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) terrorists who attacked Brussels on March 22 had enough materials to make at least 10 more large bombs.

Belgian police raided a property where the terrorists who attacked the Zaventem airport had been staying and found enough material to make 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of the explosive Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), which was also used in the November attacks in Paris.

The explosive TATP was used on March 22 in the Brussels attacks and in the November Paris attacks.
The explosive TATP was used on March 22 in the Brussels attacks and in the November Paris attacks.  /Getty Images

Belgian federal prosecutor, Frederic Van Leeuw, said 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives were found at another address used by the terrorists, this one in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels. Police also found detonators, a suitcase filled with screws and nails as well as materials, such as plastic boxes, needed to pack the explosives.

TATP can be mixed using domestic kitchen equipment by a non-chemist and could be detonated without specialist equipment, according to Prof. Sidney Allford, who worked with the British army to defuse Taliban bombs in Afghanistan.

“It is frighteningly easy to make,” Allford told the UK’s Guardian. “You don’t need to be a chemist. You can make a large quantity in an afternoon, dry it out and have it ready.”

Hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid are the readily available starting materials for TATP.

Allford said that a benefit for bombmakers using TATP is that it “explodes through heat or percussion, which means that a specialist detonator is not needed.”

That has led to speculation that the single black gloves worn on the suicide bombers’ left hands at Brussels airport may have concealed a simple household battery to trigger the explosives.