Terrorists who try to smuggle TATP are in for a surprise. TATP is a peroxide bomb detonator and an explosive of choice for airport bombers. It may be recalled that in 2001, Richard Reid of al-Qaeda targeted American Airlines Flight 63 with a TATP trigger for a bomb concealed in his shoe.

TATP is extremely lethal and has played a role in major terrorist attacks for the past three decades. It is easy to prepare from inexpensive raw materials, and is difficult to detect. Little wonder that it has become very popular with terrorists.

But detecting TATP will no longer be difficult.

A simple and cost-effective device for detecting TATP as little as fibe micrograms has been developed by an American researcher and Prof. Ehud Keinan of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. The device that looks like a pen heralds a new way to foil terrorists carrying TATP-based explosives.

Operated by touch, the sensitivity of the device is quite high, as it can identify as little as five micrograms of TATP, an amount that can't be seen by the human eye. An operator touches the tip of the device to the surface of the suspicious material. The tip is then removed and the operator replaces it on the "pen" and presses three levers, each of which releases 300 micro liters of solution. A color change indicates the presence of TATP.

According to Dr. Keinan, some major airlines equip every plane with these detectors. Dr. Keinan hopes that the device will be made available on all flights, giving airline hosts a quick and accurate way to test suspicious materials they may discover. This will help ground authorities to prepare better and respond more rapidly if a suspected terrorist manages to make his or her way on board.

The final product is now in use around the world in South Africa, Australia and China, and also in the U.S. where Acro Security Technologies, based in Israel, is now focusing its marketing efforts. – Our Bureau