Printer Friendly

Bombs in bodies: Yotam Margalit, director of strategic initiatives, Morpho Detection Inc, talks about responding to the threat of BiBs; also know as bombs in bodies.

On August 27, 2009, at 11:30 PM, there was an attempt to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was also the country's Deputy Interior Minister for Security.

The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber Noun 1. suicide bomber - a terrorist who blows himself up in order to kill or injure other people
act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political
 and al-Qaeda activist, Abul-Khair, who deceitfully turned himself in, claiming to have important information he could convey only to the prince. Abul-Khair was carrying an Improvised Explosive Device Noun 1. improvised explosive device - an explosive device that is improvised
I.E.D., IED

explosive device - device that bursts with sudden violence from internal energy
 (IED Noun 1. IED - an explosive device that is improvised
I.E.D., improvised explosive device

explosive device - device that bursts with sudden violence from internal energy
) which was detonated, supposedly by Khair's mobile phone, once the terrorist and his target were in the same room. In the attack the prince suffered only minor injuries to his hand.

At the time it was presumed that the IED was concealed in Khair's abdomen. This notion, although later diminished in likelihood by Saudi officials, sparked the interest of security-minded professionals worldwide, and likely did the same for their terrorist adversaries, as well.

Concealment of various types of contraband, most commonly narcotics, in a courier's abdomen has been a modus operandi [Latin, Method of working.] A term used by law enforcement authorities to describe the particular manner in which a crime is committed.

The term modus operandi is most commonly used in criminal cases. It is sometimes referred to by its initials, M.O.
 of various criminal organizations since well before the invention of security technologies capable of defeating it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Threats and the defences against them commonly develop in sync out of necessity and such is the case with detection of weapons and explosives concealed on and in the human body. When the threat was mostly characterized by large weapons with great masses of ferrous metals, rudimentary metal detection gateways were adequate solutions. As threats started including smaller masses of metal and strayed away from simple iron, metal detection technology evolved accordingly and can now reveal most, if not all, metallic threats.

And in an age when non-metallic knife blades and IEDs with little or no metallic components threaten protected targets such as civil aviation--and VIPs--recent threat defence development has focused on an impressive collection of body imaging devices. Recently re-named Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT), these devices now stand ready to detect anomalies on the human form at an increasing number of checkpoints around the world.

The introduction of AITs into aviation and other checkpoints does mark a significant improvement in threat detection capabilities. Despite the controversy regarding privacy issues--for which we are likely to see a solution in the form of airport operational procedures The detailed methods by which headquarters and units carry out their operational tasks. , computer-assisted detection, or both--AIT systems bring a new level of anomaly detection An approach to intrusion detection that establishes a baseline model of behavior for users and components in a computer system or network. Deviations from the baseline cause alerts that direct the attention of human operators to the anomalies. See IDS and anomaly.  capability to the checkpoint, a feature that has been missing since the opening of the first checkpoint lane.

But the problem with such synchronous development cycles is that threat development often continues in spite of or even because of defensive developments and in this case, threat development could very well move in the direction inspired by the original notion of the attempted Saudi prince assassination Assassination
See also Murder.

assassins

Fanatical Moslem sect that smoked hashish and murdered Crusaders (11th—12th centuries). [Islamic Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 52]

Brutus

conspirator and assassin of Julius Caesar. [Br.
.

Moreover, the very presence of AITs themselves could contribute to the development of such threats from surface level, or skin deep, to internally concealed ones.

Current solutions

Abdominally concealed explosives can be initiated by firing devices that contain very few, even no, metallic components at all. This can render conventional and more advanced metal detection technologies useless against them. AITs, although capable of explosives detection through detection of anomalies, can only penetrate light clothes and up to about one millimeter of skin, depending on the AIT technology. In either case, an explosive threat hidden behind a wall of flesh, centimeters thick, is simply not visible to any AIT technology.

Beyond the millimeter wave technologies, whether passive or active, and the back scatter X-ray systems that 'bounce' off the skin, there are the transmission X-ray systems that, like a medical X-ray, penetrate the body from side-to-side to display a very vivid image Vivid Image is a firm specializing in web design, online advertising and software services for a range of FTSE 100 and Global 1000 companies.

Founded by Philip Warner in 1997, Vivid Image was joined by Damian Kimmelman in 2005.
 of the target's internal organs. But these technologies still do not offer true BiBs detection capability simply because the images they produce require expert human interpretation. An operator looking at these images would need to be able to reliably discern, for example, between parts of an intestine and a similar size rubber tube filled with plastic explosive plastic explosive
n.
A versatile explosive substance in the form of a moldable doughlike solid, used in bombs detonated by fuse or electrical impulse. Also called plastique.
. And, as with today's AITs, they are subject to myriad legal, social, health and privacy concerns.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

An elegant solution to the BiBs problem may be found, however, in a technology called Quadrupole A quadrupole is one of a sequence of configurations of electric charge or gravitational mass that can exist in ideal form, but it is usually just part of a multipole expansion of a more complex structure reflecting various orders of complexity.  Resonance (QR). Although not without its own limitations, QR seems to have a collection of very favorable attributes that may make it a very successful solution from the detection, operational and customer-service standpoints.

QR technology

QR is a Radio Frequency (RF)-based technology in which radio waves Radio waves
Electromagnetic energy of the frequency range corresponding to that used in radio communications, usually 10,000 cycles per second to 300 billion cycles per second.
, at very specific frequencies, are aimed at the object to be interrogated. These RF waves have been found to excite the molecular structures of certain materials, causing them to return a faint resonating signal of their own.

QR technology-based products first 'sound off the RF wave and then 'listen' with the use of very sensitive antennas, for any faint response. If such a response is received, it is very strong indication that the specific material searched for is present because the RF signal that was broadcast and the one returned are molecular-specific. This in turn means that the technology has a very low rate of false-positive occurrences.

QR technology can be configured and tuned to detect very small masses of explosives regardless of the shape the explosives may be in. This is a very important feature when dealing with a target mass that may not only have no specific shape, but in fact may be broken up and distributed in many smaller pieces within the abdomen. Detection of threats with this technology is automatic--algorithms analyze the RF signals picked up by the antenna coils and the system issues a 'clear' signal when nothing was detected or an 'alarm' signal if an explosive is found.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of QR is that it does not generate, nor does it require, an image of any kind, a fact that would be especially welcome to those concerned with privacy issues--or with human error. Also, as QR is RF based, there are no safety issues regarding the operation of this technology, or at least none more severe than mobile phone or two-way radio usage.

Design and application

QR technology has already been incorporated into shoe scanning devices and a design and prototype of a full-body QR portal that can scan a whole person at once exists today and is currently being evaluated from security and operational perspectives.

Whatever the outcome of these full-body scanning evaluations, it is clear that the abdominal threat does not require the same magnitude of antenna coil sizes or power as may be needed for other QR applications. It is possible to use a smaller, more focused sensor when dealing with a small part of the body to which closer proximity can be achieved. This is analogous to the way a full-sized medical MRI 1. (application) MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
2. MRI - Measurement Requirements and Interface.
 machine may be required for scans of the entire body, however, when a scan of a smaller area is required, such as an arm or shoulder, a smaller sensor is used much closer to the body part in question.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The benefit of QR from a design standpoint is that the actual sensors are nothing more than copper coils that can be embedded in a variety of RF-friendly materials. The electronics and the computers running the inspection algorithms can be in the background and out of the operational area.

In the first image in this article, a QR coil design works as a queue management or 'people sorter' device such as those seen at entryways to public transportation and other venues. The coils, esthetically embedded in clear Plexiglas, can be lifted to different heights and are laterally movable to accommodate different girths. A scan using this technology currently takes less than ten seconds per person and the results are available immediately following the scan.

Additional application options for QR technology include the potential for integration of these same coils into a variety of AIT systems that are becoming more common at security checkpoints.

In closing

The rule that the only constant is change takes on a sobering meaning when applied to the development of threats in reaction to new security methods and technologies.

The threat of BIBs is real and the introduction of wide-spread AIT systems may drive those planning attacks based on explosives carried on bodies to instead plan attacks based on threats carried in bodies to avoid checkpoint detection.

Current body-screening technologies do not offer a sufficient solution as BiB threats do not necessarily require metal components. AIT's performance, although an improvement over metal detection, is limited to detection of threats that are on the body's surface.

QR offers a detection capability that does not require operator interpretation, is safe, using non-ionizing RF signals, and does not involve the use of images of any kind. This technology has been proven in many product applications including those in the aviation security space.

QR's detection qualities are known, measured and documented. The cost associated with an operational unit is estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars--small compared to the investment in AIT systems--and the development schedule is expected to yield the first products in approximately two years.

The specific application of QR as a dedicated BiBs detection sensor is currently being evaluated, designed and engineered by Morpho morpho

Any species of New World tropical brush-footed butterflies in the genus Morpho (family Nymphalidae). Microscopic ridges on the wing scales break up and reflect light, producing the iridescent blue of the males of some species.
 Detection's research and development facility in San Diego, California “San Diego” redirects here. For other uses, see San Diego (disambiguation).
San Diego is a coastal Southern California city located in the southwestern corner of the continental United States. As of 2006, the city has a population of 1,256,951.
.

The Author

Yotam Margalit is director of strategic initiatives for Morpho Detection Inc, formerly GE Security's Homeland Protection business. In recent years he held strategic and marketing positions focusing primarily on the company's CTX CTX Context (Management; Tandem)
CTX Centex Corporation (stock symbol)
CTX Centrex
CTX Cyclophosphamide
CTX Corporate Trade Exchange
CTX Cytoxan
CTX Cholera Toxin
CTX Clinical Trial Exemption
 family of CT-based explosives detection systems. Prior to this, Mr Margalit worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense (ISA) where he was responsible for evaluation, testing and certification of explosive detection systems for the Israeli government. Before joining the ISA, he was an explosive ordnance disposal The detection, identification, on-site evaluation, rendering safe, recovery, and final disposal of unexploded explosive ordnance. It may also include explosive ordnance which has become hazardous by damage or deterioration. Also called EOD.  team leader with Israeli Defense Forces.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Key Publishing Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Explosive Detection
Author:Margalit, Yotam
Publication:Airports International
Date:Oct 1, 2010
Words:1617
Previous Article:Everything you wanted to know about airfield lighting protection but were afraid to ask! John Chapman, product manager for ADB airfield solution...
Next Article:Greener airports: Franz-Josef Herchenbach, firector portfolio & innovation management for siemens airports, explains how 'green' airports need not...
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters