News / USA

Pressure Cookers Used as Bombs

Two men in hazardous materials suits investigate the scene at the first bombing on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, a day after two blasts killed three and injured more than 170 people, in Boston, April 16, 2013.
Two men in hazardous materials suits investigate the scene at the first bombing on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, a day after two blasts killed three and injured more than 170 people, in Boston, April 16, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Sean Maroney
Pressure cookers are common household appliances found in many kitchens around the world and used for a range of purposes from cooking rice to preserving food in cans. But by filling one with explosives, small pieces of metal and a triggering mechanism, it is possible to make a deadly improvised explosive device similar to those authorities believe were used in the attack on the Boston Marathon.

WHO USES THEM?

U.S. officials have long warned that pressure cookers can be used in terrorist attacks. In a 2004 memo, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that the conversion of pressure cookers into IEDs was a technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.

An issue of Inspire - an online magazine tied to al-Qaida and the late U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki - included an article entitled "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," which instructed would-be bombers on how to use a pressure cooker in an attack.

In addition, anarchist websites and white supremacist groups have discussed the use of pressure-cooker bombs.

NOTABLE INCIDENTS

In 2011, U.S. Army Private Naser Jason Abdo was charged with plotting to blow up fellow troops, and authorities found pressure cookers and smokeless gunpowder in his motel room.  The failed 2010 vehicle bomb in New York's Time Square was a pressure-cooker device containing 120 firecrackers. Also that year, a suicide bomber in Stockholm had rigged a pressure-cooker bomb that failed to detonate.

Such bombs have been extremely popular in attacks in South Asia. The chief of the bomb disposal squad in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province - a region racked by militant attacks on civilians - told the LA Times  newspaper that roughly half of the more than 5,000 explosive devices that have been defused since 2009 have used pressure cookers.

THEIR EFFECT

U.S. officials warned that this type of bomb does not require much money or special training to make. They also can look innocuous to the untrained eye.

But a drawback for attackers is that the blast radius of a pressure-cooker bomb is reduced because of the significant energy needed to break through the cooker's thick steel walls. At the same time, parts of those steel walls can become projectiles, compounding the lethality of the devices.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid