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Thursday, January 20, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

New pen-like bomb detector could be deployed
at airports

TEL AVIV — Israel's leading research institute has helped develop a miniature device that could detect a leading element in bombs.


The Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, has been working with a U.S. researcher to produce a prototype to detect TATP, a peroxide bomb detonator used in many major insurgency attacks.

"It's a next generation tool," Ehud Keinan, a Technion professor, said. "Most airports are not equipped with any devices [like this]."

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The device called Acro-PET, or peroxide explosives tester, was said to resemble a pen and could identify TATP, last used by Al Qaida in the unsuccessful attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner in December 2009. Keinan said the pen, developed in research funded by the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, could detect as little as five micrograms of the explosive powder.

Executives said the Acro-PET could be employed at airports, critical facilities and mass ground transportation. They said the tip of the device is pressed to the surface of the suspicious material, and a change in color indicates TATP.

"But it's especially useful at airports for reducing false positives any time peroxides or suspected peroxide materials are found," Keinan told the Israeli website Israel21C. "The main thing is the war against terror."

Keinan has been working with Philip Dawson, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif., to develop and market Acro-PET. The device, which releases an unidentified solution that identifies TATP, was expected to sell for $25 a unit through Israel's Acro Security Technologies.

Executives said Acro has briefed airliners, airports and other facilities on the device. They said the device, patented in the United States, would allow airline crews to rapidly detect TATP.

"There are several reasons for the popularity of TATP among terror groups all over the world," Keinan said. "It's easy to prepare from inexpensive raw materials, and was difficult to detect."

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