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July 22nd, 2009
10:51 AM ET

Jets blown to bits to test bomb security

From Jeanne Meserve and Eric Marrapodi

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (CNN) - In Atlantic City, New Jersey, a bomb maker pieces together an improvised explosive device that looks like an innocuous stack of DVDs. But this bomb maker isn't a terrorist. He is a U.S. government employee trying to beat terrorists at their own game.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Unclaimed bags are used in testing at the Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City."]

Patrick O'Connor is part of a team of researchers trying to improve current bomb detection technologies and develop new ones at the Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City. Their goal is to secure aviation from terrorists.

"It is a game of cat and mouse," says Susan Hallowell, the director of the lab. "We understand what they are doing, and they understand in some measure what we are doing, and we try to counteract that with better, improved technology."

One of the lab's tried-and-true techniques is to use the latest intelligence from the military, CIA, FBI and friendly foreign governments to manufacture improvised explosive devices like those being built by terrorists. O'Connor and other bomb makers pack some of the bombs in electronic devices like radios. Others are concealed in shoes and slippers, or even toys.

Some of the IEDs are then taken to the Abeerdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where the Department of Defense does its bomb testing, and detonated inside old airplane fuselages. These tests tell researchers whether a particular type of IED has the capacity to bring down an aircraft in flight.

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Filed under: Terrorism
soundoff (One Response)
  1. T.MOORE


    July 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm |