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onesecondglance
06-23-2014, 01:45 PM
Hi,

in my current WIP, there is a significant terror plot with use of explosives to cause maximum loss of life. The terrorist is a heating and air-con engineer and uses this as cover. The setting is contemporary Oxford (in the UK).

I realise this is a sensitive subject, so please consider this a trigger warning.



The plot currently has the bad guy blowing up office buildings. He's eventually being caught by the connection of a series of minor thefts from warehouses, manufacturing plants, and technology parks, which is how he's been gathering the materials for his bombs. However, I'm a bit light on details at the moment and could use some expertise.

I have three questions:


1) What sort of ingredients might he be stealing, and what sort of companies would hold these? Are there any specific security arrangements that would come along with these (e.g. special restrictions on the materials that would make them hard to steal).

Oxford has several high-technology research parks, along with some manufacturing areas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford#Economy), but I'm open to inventing some facilities if required.


2) What sort of facilities would he need access to in order to synthesise the raw materials into a compact high explosive? He would need the bomb to be something that he could probably carry around with him in his cover line of work (as mentioned above, as an HVAC engineer). [Note: I can work around any issues of bomb-making knowledge or experience in chemistry with secondary characters as necessary.]


3) Are office blocks actually the right sort of targets? I'd imagined that public places would give more casualties but be harder for him to attack (I'd have thought there would be robust security measures post-IRA and post-7/7), whereas private buildings would be less likely to have specific measures in place for this scenario.

If office blocks are the "right" way to go, what sort of areas in the building would he want to get to?


Thanks in advance for all responses (there will be reps!).

waylander
06-23-2014, 02:51 PM
He might be stealing high strength hydrogen peroxide

onesecondglance
06-23-2014, 03:38 PM
He might be stealing high strength hydrogen peroxide

Thanks - will check that out.

I guess an alternative way of answering my questions, if more comfortable for anyone, would be to point me to real incidents that I could research further.

PeteMC
06-23-2014, 04:06 PM
I doubt you'd be able to literally blow up an office block with a homemade bomb small enough to carry - some sort of incendiary or poisonous gas in the HVAC ducts would probably work better I would have thought.

This is probably going to help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKBomb#Gathering_materials

You're talking a *lot* of materials to cause this sort of devastation.

onesecondglance
06-23-2014, 04:40 PM
That's a useful link, Pete - thanks.

Yes, this is the source of my third question - I'm just not sure it's feasible without some sort of high explosive, and there's no realistic way for my bad guy to get hold of that (or to synthesise it) that I can think of.

King Neptune
06-23-2014, 04:49 PM
The kind of bomb would largely depend on the target. Nitroglycerine is quite a high explosive that can be made, very dangerously, from readily obtainable materials glycerin and nitric acid. Making it and carrying it around cand be dangerous, but a little goes a long way.

PeteMC
06-23-2014, 06:46 PM
That's a useful link, Pete - thanks.

Yes, this is the source of my third question - I'm just not sure it's feasible without some sort of high explosive, and there's no realistic way for my bad guy to get hold of that (or to synthesise it) that I can think of.

It depends on who your bad guy is and how connected he is. A little C4 goes a long way, after all. The IRA are probably still sitting on piles of the stuff, and they have been known to do business with various underworld / gangster-ish type people, so if your guy moves in those sort of circles he could probably get hold of some, for the right price.

If he's a lone crazy working in his garden shed then no, I don't think it's going to work. KingNeptune's Nitroglycerine idea is worth looking into, but I think he'd be more likely to blow himself up trying that than anything else.

Duncan J Macdonald
06-23-2014, 07:26 PM
You might try a thermobaric explosive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon). As an HVAC technician, no one will question his movements with a couple of cylinders of gas to 'recharge the system'.

I know the link is to Wiki-pedia, but it is a place to start.

Cath
06-23-2014, 09:50 PM
I've had a few reported posts about this thread. I will let it stand with a reminder that this information is available for all to see with a basic google search and no password protection. Be responsible about the information you share.

ironmikezero
06-23-2014, 11:28 PM
We've been down this road before... It'd be wise to stick to what you can find in the public domain. Thanks to the media there's a lot of information available. Nonetheless, you'd be wise to parse your details.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=261998&highlight=bomb+damage

Since your story is placed in the UK, I'm not certain what materials would be readily available to your character. Although, I suspect fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) and diesel fuel would be... A sufficient combined quantity (AMFO) and a vehicle borne delivery system could pretty much take out a city block.

WeaselFire
06-24-2014, 01:19 AM
Anarchist's Cookbook -- The resource everyone wants but won't admit to. :)

Jeff

ironmikezero
06-24-2014, 01:46 AM
True dat, Jeff... acquisition/possession will get you noticed...

King Neptune
06-24-2014, 02:16 AM
But Anarchist's Cookbook is available on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_20/189-2789773-9956511?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=anarchist%27s%20cookbook&sprefix=Anarchist%27s+Cookbook%2Caps%2C139

ANd if you're too cheap to buy, and can't find it to steal from a bookstore, then check your libraries. I just checked one association of libraries and found at least two copies, but I would have to request an interlibrary loan.

badwolf.usmc
06-24-2014, 05:01 AM
I have some background with explosives, I use them in the military, so i won't tell you how to make them, but I'll tell you some other info.

First, placement of the explosive is more important than the raw amount of explosive. Second, a sealed building will take less explosive than an open one. So if the windows and door in a building are closed, you need less explosives to drop the building. Maybe in your story, you can have your bad guy closing the HVAC in the building to maximize the explosive effects.

I can explain the physics of all of this if you want me to.

onesecondglance
06-24-2014, 01:07 PM
My thanks to everyone who has responded here. These bits of info are proving very helpful in shaping the plot.


I've had a few reported posts about this thread. I will let it stand with a reminder that this information is available for all to see with a basic google search and no password protection. Be responsible about the information you share.

+1 to all of this - please do take care in your replies. I am not looking for detailed recipes or suchlike - just one or two elements that could be used as leads for the authorities to catch the bad guy.

I can understand how this sort of research could be seen as distasteful or disrespectful. This is a very sensitive subject and I want to treat it with the seriousness it deserves. I don't want to diminish the very real impact of an attack like this through sloppy research, but nor is it my intention to create some kind of "how-to" guide.

The level of information provided has been great so far, and I am very grateful.

Hendo
06-25-2014, 09:40 AM
I would go with Anfo. Just google it and you'll find tons of information on it. When they're talking about terrorists stealing/stockpiling fertilizer, this is the stuff they're normally trying to make.