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), the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.[2]


Pressure cooker

Pressure cooker bombs are relatively easy to construct. Most of the materials required can be easily obtained. The bomb can be triggered using a simple electronic device such as a digital watch, garage door opener, cell phone, pager, kitchen timer, or alarm clock.[1][3] The power of the explosion depends on the size of the pressure cooker and the amount and type of explosives used.[4]

Similar to a pipe bomb, the containment provided by the pressure cooker means that the energy from the explosion is confined until the pressure cooker itself explodes. This in turn creates a relatively large explosion using low explosives and generating potentially lethal fragmentation.[5]



French police prevented a terrorist attack in Strasbourg, France, on New Year's Eve 2000. Ten militants were convicted for the plot.[6]

From 2002–04, pressure cooker bombs were widely used in terror and IED attacks in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.[7]

In 2003, a terrorist from Chechnya named Abdullah, carrying a pressure cooker bomb detonated explosives and killed six people before being arrested near Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan.[8] The Taliban claimed responsibility.[8] In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to US agencies about pressure cookers being converted to IEDs.[7]

In July 2006, in Mumbai, India, 209 people were killed and 714 injured by pressure cooker bombs in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.[6] According to Mumbai Police, the bombings were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).[9]


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".[3][10][11] The article describes the technique as a simple way to make a highly effective bomb.[12] Analysts believe the work was the brainchild of Anwar al-Awlaki, and edited by him and by Samir Khan.[13][14] 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.[15]

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

Several Islamic radical terrorist attempts in the 2010s involved pressure cooker bombs.[7] The unsuccessful Times Square car bombing attempt in May 2010, in New York City, included a pressure cooker bomb which failed to detonate.[6][7][16][17] The bomb-maker, Faisal Shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison.[6] In the December 2010 Stockholm bombings, a suicide bomber with extreme views on Islam[clarification needed] set up a pressure cooker bomb, which failed to detonate.[7][18] 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.[7][17][19] He was sentenced to life in prison.[17]

In Pakistan, in March 2010, six employees of World Vision International were killed by a remotely detonated pressure cooker bomb.[17][20] 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.[16]

Two pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.[21] 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,[22] however, subsequent evidence indicated a remote device was used to trigger the bombs.[23] One of the bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told investigators that he learned the technique from an article in Inspire magazine.[24]

On Canada Day 2013, pressure cooker bombs failed to explode at the Parliament Building in Victoria, British Columbia.[25]

On May 19, 2016, passengers on a bus in Wrocław, Poland, alerted the driver to a suspicious package. The driver removed the package from the bus. Shortly later it exploded with no fatalities but did injure one woman slightly. Authorities believed it was a three liter pressure cooker packed with nails and nitrate explosive.[26]

On September 17, 2016, an explosion occurred in Lower Manhattan, New York, wounding 29 civilians. The origin of the explosion was found to be a pressure cooker bomb.[27] At least one other bomb was found unexploded.[28] A suspect for that explosion and others in New Jersey, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was captured two days later.[29]

Both the 2010 Stockholm bombings and the foiled 2016 Sweden terrorism plot involved pressure-cooker bombs.[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A Short Recent History of Pressure Cooker Bombs". swampland. April 16, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18, 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. ^ 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.
  4. ^ US Department of Homeland Security (2004). "POTENTIAL TERRORIST USE OF PRESSURECOOKERS" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 12, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "How pressure-cooker bombs boost the deadliness of 'low explosives'". February 20, 2005. Archived from the original on April 19, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "A history of pressure cooker bombs". CBC News. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Crowley, Michael (April 16, 2013). "A Short Recent History of Pressure Cooker Bombs". Time. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Taliban claims Kabul suicide attack". December 29, 2003. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  9. ^ "Death Toll at 209". CNN. September 30, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  10. ^ "Boston bombing investigators focus on possible suspect in surveillance video". CBS/AP News Article. CBS News. April 17, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  11. ^ "Pressure-cooker bomb instructions in Al-Qaeda magazine". USA Today. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  12. ^ "Pressure cooker bombs suspected in Boston blast". Associated Press. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  13. ^ Paul Koring (April 17, 2013). "Lone-wolf bomber scenario poses special challenges for law agencies". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  14. ^ Spencer, Richard (April 16, 2013). "Boston Marathon bombs: Al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine taught pressure cooker bomb-making techniques". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  15. ^ Lee Keath. "Pressure Cooker Bombs Used in Past by Militants". ABC News. Archived from the original on April 19, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Pressure-cooker bombs used around the world". MSN. April 13, 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Forensic Investigators Gather Clues to the Boston Bombing". San Francisco Chronicle. July 1, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2013.[dead link]
  20. ^ "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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  21. ^ Vinograd, Cassandra; Dodds, Paisley (April 16, 2013). "AP Glance: Pressure Cooker Bombs". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  22. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q.; Schmitt, Eric; Shane, Scott (April 16, 2013). "Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  23. ^ "Congressman: Boston bombs triggered by remote control". CBS News. April 24, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  24. ^ "Search of Tsarnaevs' phones, computers finds no indication of accomplice, source says". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  25. ^ Reuters (July 2, 2013). "Pressure cooker bomb plot thwarted in Canada". The Telegraph (UK). London. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  26. ^ Gregor Gowans, "No Fatalities Following Explosion Involving Bus 145", Wroclaw Uncut, 19 May 2016.
  27. ^ "New York City shaken by 'intentional' explosion, 29 injured". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  28. ^ Mele, Christopher; Baker, Al; Barbaro, Michael (September 17, 2016). "Powerful Blast Injures at Least 29 in Manhattan; Second Device Found". The New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  29. ^ "NY, NJ bombings: Suspect in custody after shootout with police, sources say". CNN. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  30. ^ "Han hade ett bombbälte". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). December 13, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  31. ^ "Teaching student jailed over Sweden terror plot". The Local. June 2, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2017.

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