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Airplane Bomber's Shoes Disabled by Sandia Lab Bomb Squad Tool

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Feb. 21 (AScribe Newswire) - Sandia National Laboratories, a Department of Energy lab, announced today that the shoe bombs Richard Reid allegedly tried to detonate on board a trans-Atlantic flight from Paris to Miami were surgically disabled by bomb specialists using an advanced bomb squad tool originally developed at Sandia.

Reid was arrested in Boston, where Massachussetts State Police bomb squad members Sgt. Dave Thompson and Sgt. Ed Anderson disabled Reid's shoe bombs with assistance from the FBI on Dec. 22 using a Percussion-Actuated Nonelectric (PAN) Disrupter.

Reid's shoe bombs were disarmed and their inner workings revealed without detonating them so the FBI could use the deactivated bombs during its criminal investigation of Reid.

Although details about how the PAN Disrupter works cannot be divulged for security reasons, the device precisely interrupts a bomb's internal gadgetry quickly, before the bomb can detonate, and remotely, with human bomb specialists a safe distance away.

"This is another example of our national labs' technological wizardry being put to good use to support America's security," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Sandia bomb-disablement expert Chris Cherry and a team of Sandia researchers developed the PAN Disrupter in the early 1990s as a way to keep bomb technicians safe and disable bombs nonexplosively so valuable evidence can be retained. The PAN is one of several advanced bomb-disablement tools developed at Sandia.

Since 1995, when the PAN was licensed to Ideal Products of Lexington, Ky., it has become the primary tool used by bomb squads nationwide to disable conventional, handmade-type bombs remotely.

Sgt. Thompson received training on the PAN Disrupter and other advanced disablement tools and techniques during a Sandia-sponsored international bomb squad training conference held in Riverside, Calif., in 1999.

Sandia has helped train members of the world's most advanced bomb squads since 1994 in a series of training conferences called Operation Albuquerque (1994, 1995, and 1997), Operation Riverside (1999), and Operation America (an ongoing series of regional workshops at various locations in the United States sponsored by the National Institute of Justice).

In April 1996, Cherry and his team were called to Montana by the FBI to disarm a bomb found in a remote cabin following the arrest of Theodore Kazcynski, the Unabomber. The PAN Disrupter was used to disable what is now known as the Unabomber's Device No. 17.

The PAN also was instrumental in safely disabling numerous suspect bombs in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and is now being deployed by bomb squads in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Sandia's role in developing the tool used to disarm Reid's shoe bombs will be highlighted Thursday, Feb. 21, during a visit to Sandia by Office of Homeland Security Director Gov. Tom Ridge. Several Sandia-developed counterterrorism technologies will be demonstrated, including a Sandia bomb-disablement tool called the "Black Box."

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

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