As you’re likely aware, there was an
attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day here in the US.
The suspect, aboard Northwest Airlines flight #253 from
Amsterdam to Detroit, attempted to ignite about 80 grams of PETN,
which was hidden underneath his clothes.
This was a serious and potentially tragic event, but we’re
pleased that Ahura Scientific equipment was able to help authorities
respond to the incident and quickly to mitigate the threat.
After the incident, the local Warren, Michigan Fire Department was
called in to assist the FBI. Fortunately, they had a
FirstDefender, which the FBI used to quickly identify the substance as
Use of the FirstDefender has been
documented by the media:
In an article from the Detroit News, “Warren
Fire Department chemical reader helps terror probe”, which
you’ll find copied below.
In a video “Michigan Machine Helped Identify
Explosive” that shows the Fire Department demonstrating the
actual FirstDefender (he calls it the “Ahura”) used at the
incident. I’ve attached the flash file, which you can download
from the subsequent email sent via Leapfile, or you can click on the
attached link to see the video. (Try opening the file with your
internet browser, but if you have trouble, let me know and I’ll send
an alternate format.)
Below are pictures of the explosive device. Note
that FirstDefender can easily see through the transparent plastic bag,
helping authorities identify the material without direct contact.
Fire Department chemical reader helps
Williams / The Detroit News
28. 2009 3:57PM
-- In the seven years since the Warren Fire Department bought two
handheld chemical detectors, they've been used mainly to help
residents identify unknown chemicals in their homes.
But the Ahura
FirstDefender machines were put to their most important test Friday
night when federal authorities called for help analyzing the
chemicals a suspected terrorist brought onboard Northwest Airlines
Flight 253 to Detroit. The department's Lt. David
Frederick was working that night and responded to the call around
10:30 p.m., heading out to Metro Airport in Romulus.
is one of those things high on the magnitude list," said Lt.
Dan Ross, one of the department's 20 firefighters trained to use the
machine. "I think it's great we can do something to help the
FBI and that the FBI knows that we have these things."
the Ahura machine, officials were able to confirm federal
authorities' initial thoughts -- that the chemical was PETN, which
can be used as an explosive.
The lightweight detector can quickly test chemicals on surfaces
using a point-and-shoot method and also from a vial inserted in the
machine. This helps prevent the machine from becoming contaminated.
sample can be assessed within 30 seconds, giving the composition of
the chemical makeup of a powder or liquid.
said his department was called because he thinks it was either the
closest to Metro Airport or the closest available.
great to be able to identify what the FBI was looking at and to have
it whenever we need it," Ross said.