military working dog trains at the
Laboratory to detect volatile explosives.
December 1999, a man was caught trying to
smuggle a highly volatile explosive—hexamethylene
triperoxide diamine, or HMTD—across
the U.S.- Canadian border to attack Los
Angeles International Airport. Two years
later, would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid
attempted to use a similar explosive—triacetone
triperoxide, or TATP—to blow up a
packed airliner over the Atlantic.
terrorists are increasingly using peroxide-based
explosives to carry out devastating attacks,
we are training some of the best noses in
the U.S. to sniff them out.
explosive-detection dogs—an extraordinarily
talented breed of anti-crime specialists.
Recently, some 60 dogs and their handlers
from the Metropolitan Washington Airports
Authority, U.S. Capitol Police, Virginia
State Police, Washington Metro Transit Police,
Secret Service, and other local, state,
and federal law enforcement agencies from
across the Washington, D.C., area were in
Quantico, Virginia for specialized training
with the FBI Laboratory's Explosives Unit,
the only entity in the U.S. that offers
training with bulk quantities of peroxide-based
of the dogs can detect some 19,000 different
combinations of explosives—but, in
general, most have not been exposed to bulk
quantities of peroxide-based explosives.
The teams trained with HMTD and TATP, and
went through a course with a large vehicle
bomb containing bulk quantities of ammonium
nitrate, the explosive Timothy McVeigh used
to destroy Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal
Building 10 years ago. After several hours
of training, the dogs demonstrated that
they can detect bulk quantities of HMTD,
TATP, and ammonium nitrate.
Led by their handlers, the dogs sniffed
their way through two training courses lined
with cinderblocks. Some of the blocks concealed
canisters—carefully prepared by our
explosives expert—holding "threat
quantities" of HMTD and TATP; others
had empty canisters, or "blanks."
One by one, the dogs correctly identified
the blocks containing the explosives by
sitting down in front of them and focusing
intently on their handlers. A third course
consisted of several parked cars, one of
which contained 100 pounds of ammonium nitrate
in its trunk. After a quick lesson, the
dogs sniffed it out.
of the extreme volatility of the explosives—some
terrorists have actually blown themselves
up during assembly—the dogs also learned
not to touch the objects they sniffed. With
HMTD and TATP explosives, even a slight
nudge or scratch could be deadly.
far, we've held similar training courses
in Florida and California. It's all part
of our ongoing effort to help prevent terrorist
attacks and provide advanced training for
our nation's first responders. We'd like
to thank the law enforcement officers and
their dogs for participating in the training
and for continuing their brave work to keep
all of us safe!
I FBI K-9s