Oct. 20, 2009 -- With the case of alleged bomb maker Najibullah Zazi fresh on the public's mind, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called for a nationwide "awareness" program of sales of peroxide, a chemical widely used in over-the-counter hair dye formulas and swimming pool cleaning supplies but also sought after by terrorists to make homemade bombs.
A recipe to make a homemade liquid bomb using concentrated peroxide, known as TATP, was found in Zazi's computer, law enforcement officials say. It was said to be the same recipe used by terrorists in the London transit bombings that killed 56 and wounded more than 700 commuters on July 7, 2005.
Surveillance videos showed Zazi purchased dozens of bottles of low strength hydrogen peroxide used to dye hair at various Denver area beauty supply stores and then prosecutors say he went to a nearby hotel where he experimented with cooking the chemicals on a stovetop.
"With these potentially dangerous chemicals so readily available to the public, we must do what needs to be done to ensure public safety," Schumer said. "Not only has there been a string of terrorist plots involving TATP, but the alleged New York City bombing plot of Najibullah Zazi has reminded us all of the serious nature of this threat. We must do everything we can to prevent a possible tragedy in the future."
Earlier this month, a southern California man blew off several fingers while dealing with what authorities say was homemade TATP in the basement of his home. Benjamin Kuzelka, 23 was in the garage handling an unstable liquid when it exploded, officials said at the time.
TATP Ties To Terrorism
Kuzelka arrived at a hospital saying he'd shot himself in the hand, but his injuries were inconsistent with a gunshot wound and doctors notified the sheriff's department. Deputies found one of his fingers in a toolbox in the garage, explosives and a sophisticated marijuana farm at the property, which doubles as the state-licensed Kuzelka Family Day Care.
As it turned out, Kuzelka had no links to terrorism, but TATP has been a factor in numerous terror plots. In 2001, Richard Reid attempted to detonate TATP hidden inside his shoes, while flying to the U.S.
Schumer's staff said the Senator was not calling for a ban on over the counter sales of hair dye and other commercial products containing peroxide, but was suggesting a national program to follow the lead of New York city, where police have an extensive outreach program to educate pool supply, hardware stores and other outlets to be on the lookout for suspicious purchases. In fact, shopkeepers in New Jersey quickly alerted the FBI when an ABC News staffer purchased hair dye chemicals for an illustration on a World News story about the Zazi case.