Anatomy of a Suicide Attack

Feb 28, 2007 6:22pm

A propaganda tape recently posted on a militant Islamist Web site provides a rare look at who the enemy is for U.S. troops and how simple it seems to be for them to mount a deadly attack.    The tape shows a suicide bomber, a young man, in a beat-up Toyota loaded with explosives. The ease with which his bomb was prepared is documented on the tape, released on the Internet by al Qaeda’s propaganda arm this week. Click Here for Photos from the Alleged Suicide Attack. The tape shows a room full of old Russian mortars and land mines being rigged with detonation cords stuck in plastic explosives. Retired U.S. Army General William Nash, now an ABC News consultant, says Afghanistan and Iraq are awash in such old shells. "That probably wouldn’t work very well in the way they were intended to be used because they’re so old, but by packing them with plastic explosive, putting in that det[onation] cord, then they are very lethal when exploded together," Gen. Nash explained as he watched the video.    The tape shows the suicide bomber building his own bomb, arranging the mortars and land mines in a decorative metal chest. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "This is a very compelling statement for how simple it is for the Taliban to hurt us in Afghanistan," Alexis Debat, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center and now an ABC News consultant, said.  "The child is making the bomb, the explosive that is about to kill him, and yet he has such an amazing peaceful look on his face." The chest is shown in the back of the Toyota, wired to a set of switches on the console next to the driver’s seat. The suicide bomber is shown driving away from a compound of mud buildings.  "There are hundreds if not thousands of people like this, not just in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen," Debat said of the suicide bomber on the tape.  "This is what al Qaeda wants us to know." Then the video cuts to a coalition military convoy, with vehicles spaced at a distance so only one vehicle at a time is vulnerable to such attacks. And then a huge explosion is seen on the screen, an attack allegedly carried out in the Argon district of Afghanistan late last year. "And that’s why we’ve lost so many soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq to this technique," said Gen. Nash said of the intensity of the explosive device.  "That’s an overwhelming amount of explosive." The number of such attacks in Afghanistan is up almost fivefold. While the Army says no one attack means much strategically, the cumulative impact is enormous and growing.

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