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The explosive device used by the would-be Detroit bomber contained a widely available – and easily detected – chemical explosive that has a long history of terrorist use, according to government officials and explosive experts.

The chemical – PETN – is small, powerful and appealing to terrorists. It was a component of the explosive that Richard Reid, the convicted “shoe bomber,” used in his 2001 attempt to down an airliner.

PETN was widely used in the plastic explosives terrorists used to blow up airplanes in the 1970s and 1980s.

Investigators say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab hid an explosive device on his body when he travelled from Amsterdam to Detroit. They say PETN was hidden in a condom or condom-like bag just below his torso. Abdulmutallab also had a syringe filled with liquid. Source: canadianpress

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