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.
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs