Pressure cooker bomb

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Pressure cooker fragment believed by the FBI to be part of one of the explosive devices used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings

A pressure cooker bomb is an improvised explosive device (IED) created by inserting explosive material into a pressure cooker and attaching a blasting cap into the cover of the cooker.[1]

Pressure cooker bombs have been used in a number of attacks in the 21st century. Among them have been the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, 2010 Stockholm bombings (failed to explode), the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt (failed to explode), and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.[2]

On Canada Day 2013, pressure cooker bombs failed to explode at the Parliament Building in Victoria, British Columbia.[3]


Pressure cooker

Pressure cooker bombs are relatively easy to construct. With the exception of the explosive itself, most of the materials required can be easily obtained. The bomb can be ignited using a simple electronic device such as a digital watch, garage door opener, cell phone, pager, kitchen timer, or alarm clock.[1][4] The power of the explosion depends on the size of the pressure cooker and the amount and type of explosives used.[5]

Like a pipe bomb, the pressure cooker contains the energy of the explosion and allows it to build up before it releases, and allows low explosives to be used to produce a relatively large explosion.[6] The explosion of the metal pressure cooker itself also creates potentially lethal fragmentation.[6]



Ten Islamic militants were convicted of planning to blow up a market in Strasbourg, France, on New Year's Eve 2000.[7]

From 2002–04, pressure cooker bombs were widely used in terror and IED attacks in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.[8]

In 2003, a terrorist from Chechnya named Abudullah, carrying a pressure cooker bomb detonated explosives and killed six people before being arrested near Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan.[9] The Taliban claimed responsibility.[9] In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to federal and state security officials warning: "A technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps is the use/conversion of pressure cookers into IEDs."[8]

In July 2006, in Mumbai, India, in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings seven pressure cooker bombs detonated on commuter trains, killing 209 people and injuring 714.[7] According to Mumbai Police, the bombings were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).[10]


Step-by-step instructions for making pressure cooker bombs were published in an article titled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" in the Al-Qaeda-linked Inspire magazine in the summer of 2010, by "The AQ chef".[4][11][12] The article says "the pressurized cooker is the most effective method" for making a simple bomb.[13] It describes how to fill the cooker with shrapnel and gunpowder, and to create a detonator using the filament of a light bulb and a clock timer.[14] Analysts believe the work was the brainchild of Anwar al-Awlaki, and edited by him and by Samir Khan.[15][16] Inspire's goal is to encourage "lone wolf" Jihadis to attack what they view as the enemies of Jihad, including the United States and its allies.[17]

Justice Department diagram showing positioning of pressure cooker in Faisal Shahzad's vehicle in New York’s Times Square bombing

More recently there were three Islamic radical terrorist cases in the West that involved pressure cooker bombs.[8] The unsuccessful Times Square car bombing attempt in May 2010, in New York City, included a pressure cooker bomb which failed to detonate.[7][8][10][18] The bomb-maker, Faisal Shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison.[7] In the December 2010 Stockholm bombings, a suicide bomber with extreme views on Islam set up a pressure cooker bomb, which failed to detonate.[8][19] In July 2011, Naser Jason Abdo, a U.S. Army private at Fort Hood, Texas, who took pressure cooker bomb-making tips from the Al-Qaeda magazine article, was arrested for planning to blow up a restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers. Two pressure cookers and bomb-making materials were found in his hotel room.[8][18][20] He was sentenced to life in prison.[18]

In Pakistan, in March 2010, terrorists bombed the U.S.-based Christian aid group World Vision International, killing six employees, using a remotely detonated pressure cooker bomb.[18][21] In October 2012, French police found a makeshift pressure cooker with bomb-making materials near Paris as part of an investigation into an attack on a kosher grocery store.[10]

Two pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.[22] The pressure cookers were filled with nails, ball bearings, and black powder. Initially, it was believed the devices were triggered by kitchen-type egg timers,[23] however, subsequent evidence indicated a remote device was used to trigger the bombs.[24] The bombers allegedly obtained instructions to build the pressure cooker bombs from the Inspire magazine article published by al Qaeda.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A Short Recent History of Pressure Cooker Bombs". swampland. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "What we know about the Boston bombing and its aftermath". CNN. April 19, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ Reuters (2 July 2013). "Pressure cooker bomb plot thwarted in Canada". The Telegraph (UK) (London). Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Boston Bombs Were In Pressure Cookers And Hidden In Black Duffel Bags, Says Person Briefed On Probe". Huffington Post. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ US Department of Homeland Security (2004). "POTENTIAL TERRORIST USE OF PRESSURECOOKERS". 
  6. ^ a b "How pressure-cooker bombs boost the deadliness of 'low explosives'". February 20, 2005. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d "A history of pressure cooker bombs". CBC News. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Crowley, Michael (April 16, 2013). "A Short Recent History of Pressure Cooker Bombs". Time. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Taliban claims Kabul suicide attack". December 29, 2003. Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c "Death Toll at 209". CNN. September 30, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Boston bombing investigators focus on possible suspect in surveillance video". CBS/AP News Article (CBS News). April 17, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Pressure-cooker bomb instructions in Al-Qaeda magazine". USA Today. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Pressure cooker bombs suspected in Boston blast". Associated Press. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "'Pressure Cooker' Bombs: Crude Devices In Boston Marathon Explosions Used In Previous Attacks Around The World". The Huffington Post. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ Paul Koring (April 17, 2013). "Lone-wolf bomber scenario poses special challenges for law agencies". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  16. ^ Spencer, Richard (April 16, 2013). "Boston Marathon bombs: Al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine taught pressure cooker bomb-making techniques". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  17. ^ Lee Keath. "Pressure Cooker Bombs Used in Past by Militants". ABC News. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c d "'Pressure Cooker' Bombs: Crude Devices In Boston Marathon Explosions Used In Previous Attacks Around The World )". Huffington Post. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  19. ^ Jill Lawless and Malin Rising (December 13, 2010). "Taimour Abdulwahab, Stockholm Bomber, Seen As Radical By U.K. Muslims". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Forensic Investigators Gather Clues to the Boston Bombing". San Francisco Chronicle. July 1, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2013. [dead link]
  21. ^ "ROLL CALL RELEASE; (U) Prepared by the DHS/I&A Homeland Counterterrorism Division, the FBI/Directorate of Intelligence, and the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group; Warning: This document is UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). Pressure Cookers as IED Components". Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  22. ^ Vinograd, Cassandra; Dodds, Paisley (April 16, 2013). "AP Glance: Pressure Cooker Bombs". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q.; Schmitt, Eric; Shane, Scott (April 16, 2013). "Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Congressman: Boston bombs triggered by remote control". CBS News. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "Search of Tsarnaevs' phones, computers finds no indication of accomplice, source says". Retrieved April 25, 2013. 

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