U.S., Pakistan seek breakthrough to thwart bomb makers
A cloud of dust rises from an Afghan road after US troops destroy an IED in their path.
February 25th, 2013
05:05 PM ET

U.S., Pakistan seek breakthrough to thwart bomb makers

By Barbara Starr

The United States and Pakistan will begin working together on a new fertilizer formula that could be a significant technological step to limit the ability of terror groups to make improvised explosives and car bombs using the ingredient.

An agreement to try to make a product more inert was reached last week after Pakistani officials from Fatima Group, a major fertilizer manufacturer, met with Pentagon officials.

"Such a long-term solution would be a true scientific breakthrough," Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, the head of the Pentagon's Joint Improved Explosive Device Defeat Organization, said in a statement.

Barbero met with Fatima representatives to urge them again to take steps to control fertilizer inventories. The meeting itself was a step forward since the Pakistani government previously had stopped the U.S. military from talking directly to the company.

Fatima Group is the Pakistani-based producer of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN). It was developed as a non-explosive alternative to ammonium nitrate, long a key ingredient in homemade bombs used widely in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. But it can be converted into an explosive mixture.

Hundreds of American troops have been killed by improvised explosive devices containing the material.

Pakistan and the United States will now work on a "reformulated" CAN product in hopes of reducing its effectiveness in homemade bombs.

It is produced by two factories in Pakistan that are both owned and operated by Fatima. It also has now confirmed to the Pentagon in writing that it has suspended sales of CAN fertilizer products in the border provinces to 228 dealers in the area.

It is also working on plans for more readily visible bagging of CAN in hopes Pakistani border control agents will stop smuggling when they see it. Barbero is still pressing for color dying so it can more readily be identified.

Fatima may have its own economic reasons for trying to improve its practices.

A U.S. unit of the company, Midwest Fertilizer, has proposed building a plant in Indiana that promises 2,500 construction and 309 permanent jobs. Midwest issued $1 billion in bonds to finance the plant, but Indiana Gov. Mike Pence suspended state support after learning of Barbero's longstanding criticism of Fatima's failure to control its inventory.

Barbero's frustration with a lack of progress by Pakistan and Fatima was evident last year when he publicly detailed how insurgents have learned to process and convert CAN into explosive material that can be used with a fuel to create a bomb.

In a May, Barbero spoke to an international meeting of fertilizer companies and experts in Doha, Qatar.

U.S. officials tell CNN that the details Barbero disclosed are publicly available on the Internet, but it's still rare for an American military official to speak openly about the detailed chemistry of bomb making.

In December 2012, Barbero testified before Congress and was highly critical of both Fatima and the Pakistan government for failure to exert control over fertilizer and other components of bomb-making material.

He noted the use of another substance found in IEDs, potassium chlorate, has been on the rise in Afghanistan for the past year. Although the Afghan government bans its importation, it is legally imported into Pakistan for use in the textile and matchstick industries and often stolen by insurgents for used in bomb making.

According to the Pentagon, homemade explosives continue to be the main charge of IEDs found in Afghanistan. Most of the roughly 87 percent of IEDs that contain homemade explosive material are comprised of ammonium nitrate derived from Pakistani-produced calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

Even with the impending drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the threat of those explosives remains significant.

The Pentagon says more than 1,900 U.S. troops were killed or wounded in such IED attacks in 2012, accounting for more than 60 percent of American combat casualties.

There were nearly 14,500 IED-related events in Afghanistan last year, including both detection and attacks.

Barbero is also strongly making the point that the threat of homemade bombs is spreading around the world, including North Africa where al Qaeda affiliates are on the rise.

Since January 2011, there have been more than 10,000 IEDs placed in 112 countries, with attacks carried out by more than 40 regional and transnational threat networks.

Explosives involving ammonium nitrate have been the choice of insurgents in several recent high-profile attacks.

A 2011 Mumbai attack involved three bombs containing the fertilizer that killed 27 people and injured 130 others.

Also that year, a car bomb in Norway killed eight people. Six tons of ammonium nitrate and calcium ammonium nitrate were used in the attack.

"The Oslo bomber was able to easily purchase and store massive amounts of fertilizer by simply establishing a fake farming business and easily converting fertilizer into a bomb," Barbero said.

Mumbai and the attack in central Oslo were not tied to Pakistan, but Barbero spoke about them in terms of what he sees as the growing global threat.

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. mcm 財布 店舗

    louis vuitton ブランド mcm 財布 店舗 http://www.bag-valuables.com/

    August 7, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
  2. ?

    the military should try more ambushes against the Taliban (really effective maneuver for static war), it seems it is the other way around, but then you have to ask yourself about rules of engagement and if you really care what the news has to say, they say the troops know where the Taliban is but they travel without weapons in hand while they get to their areas of operation

    April 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • ?

      the one in ten rule applies to this war I think,

      April 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  3. Patricia

    Just one more reason to go organic.

    February 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • some guy

      thats actually such a great answer that even the DOD top brass may not have thought of it.

      February 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  4. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Unfortunately, Pakistan is just another U.S. satellite state waiting to take orders from the right-wing thugs in Washington. It needs to break away once and for all!

    February 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      There are some of my IMPOSTERS doing a great job! keep trying guys!

      February 26, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply

    Pakistanis, someone should put your head in pig dump and pound you with an shoe on your head till all crappy ideas of making fertilizer bombs come out, then we should all urinate on you in front of your army chiefs.

    February 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  6. Apzal

    we will produce most kids with our 4 wives and one day inshallah over run yur dying populations with abortion factories and take over you country without even raising one finger or weapon.
    Allah has given Muslims the entire world.
    You are here ruling temporary as leader soon to become extint with few years. this said in holy scrips so dont worry , it is Allah's will .

    February 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Lots of us Americans and Indians know very well that Muslims all over teh free world are doing just that!

      CNN's own Islamist and a fellow Indian Mr.Fareed Zakaria is facilitating several such initiatives in his own COVERT style by hoodwinking Americans into accepting more Muslim migrants, letting our guard down in the fight against Islamic Terror, and facilitating greater participation of Muslims in all spheres of American, European, Australian & Indian lives to increase their stock and reach.


      February 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  7. Joseph McCarthy

    I'm scared that the right-wing thugs in both Pakistan and Washington will succeed in this endeavor. Since Pakistan is no more than a U.S. satellite state, they probably will. Another blow to Islam!

    February 26, 2013 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Me too!! I am p!ssing in my pant. Damn these right wing left wing guys. What should we do Joe? I say let's join them.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Please Phunnie boy, do cut that Tea Party lingo out. It has no place here.

        February 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • George Patton-2

      Another blow to Islam!! Do we really care? Fvk those fertilizer bomb making terrorists.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Like you said above Joe, Pakistan is no more than a U.S. satellite state just like Iraq is. The greed of those Washington neocons knows no end, none at all!

      February 26, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  8. uzaie

    just an excuse, people have been able to illegally import uranium and nuclear weapons(India, China, Pakistan, Russia), you think changing the formula of a fertilizer will help anything? they will simply resort to other products

    February 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
    • kingston

      Doubt if camel turd and goat pellets are as lethal nitro IEDs....

      February 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  9. Re-posted With Intent To Educate Fertilizer Bomb Making Pakistani Muslims

    Renowned Muslim activists and generalists in more moderate muslim countries like Turkey have decried the silence of the corrupt muslim governments over the continues making of fertilizer bombs in Pakistan by Sunni terrorists and said all minorities should be given the right to self-determination.

    “Pakistan, Yemen, Benghazi, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and almost all muslim countries are poverty ridden, uneducated, and bloody occupied by al Qaeda fighters, or some other types of muslim terrorist groups.

    More and more young muslims are joining fertilizer bomb making factories to support their families. These young muslims are more vulnerable to be exploited by mullahs also known as terrorist recruiters. All mosques are becoming fertilizer bomb making recruiting centers too.

    Tourism in Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria have virtually dropped to zero, while terrorism, unemployment, fertilizer bomb making teaching have gone through the roof.

    Lives of poor uneducated muslims in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Benghazi, Algeria, Syria are made miserable by gun-totting army personnel or Jihadist terrorist groups, who routinely harassed, extorted money, committed raps, or terrorized people with impunity, adding that disappearances are almost a daily occurrence as also kidnapping, arrests, fake encounters and torture.

    Pakistanis should be given opportunity to become the world's largest non exploding fertilizer manufacturer, and deter terrorists in Pakistan from making IEDs and fertilizer bombs.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  10. danish

    That is a classic example of yellow journalism. How could you talk only about egg and not the chicken? Please add to your short-term-jerking-memory a bit of a try, and also TELL people where the JIHADI literature first got printed By. For your convenience It was printed in Nebraska. Second The dude @brown is certainly a Brown in its existence, since you can point the problem about the CAN products, but forgot to tell the world that it was THE beloved Tax eater CIA who taught them how to make a bomb out of fertilizer. Hipocracy at its heights...that you can mention Pakistan Companies as part of the problem, but are afraid to name IRAN- or in case Tajikistan or in many ways uzbekistan who are helping and friending on both side of the WAR. For this yellow piece- i must say, it will rot in History as an Ugly piece of Journalism.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  11. brown

    The solution is to annihilate the Pakistan population. There will no longer be a need to feed the wretched Paki infestation.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply

      Brown, someone should put your head on concrete and pound you with an iron rod till every thing
      comes out, then we should all urinate on you in front of your mother.

      February 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
      • shahgee

        ignore him, he is just a hate filled person....probably hindu or a redneck....thats all he can do to vent...write crap....lol what else can he do?

        February 25, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • wasso

        LOL ! A lesson of Pakistan History X for Brown.

        February 26, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Awabnavi

      These JEWS and IDOLATERS (Hindhus) are bent on proving the Quran true - "5:82 Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud."

      February 26, 2013 at 1:28 am | Reply
      • ..

        Stop giving your lectures on Koran stupid. Muslims or your Mohammed or your Allah did not exist before 1400 years. Go figure who you were.

        February 26, 2013 at 11:52 am |

        Awabnavi, someone should put your head on pillow and pound you with pig crap till every thing
        comes out, then we should all urinate on you in front of your girlfriend.

        February 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  12. schottkey

    Non-violence and truth are inseparable. Violence and Muslims are inseparable. If calcium ammonium nitrate is made unavailable, Muslims will find some other way to explode something to hurt innocent people. When there is will, there is a way. There is abundance of willingness, eagerness and addiction to commit acts of violence against innocent people deeply embedded into Muslim psyche.

    February 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • Awabnavi

      |Why don't you Kafirs stay the heck out of Muslim Lands and stop interfering in their internal affairs. If that stops the bombings will AUTOMATICALLY stop.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:33 am | Reply
      • willknutsen

        70 percent of terror killings world wide are by Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims. And most of that is in Pakistan. All the killing in Iraq now is by Muslims against Muslims. All the killing in Syria is from Muslims killing Muslims. All the killing and violence in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia are by Muslims against Muslims. So your theory is not quite sound!

        February 26, 2013 at 3:23 am |
  13. JustAsk.com

    Can you suggest a new fertilizer formula that could be a significant technological step to limit the ability of terror groups to make improvised explosives and car bombs???

    A: it's very easy, add pig crap to the fertilizer. Not only it will make fertilizer to useless for IEDs, but it will help Pakistan to clean up pig crap from their country

    February 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • schottkey

      @JustAsk - Dude, that's gross! But I have to give it to you - it seems pretty effective. Not only you seem to have a deep understanding of Muslim psychology, you seem to have found a practical, cost effective and "green" alternative to some of the major problems in Pakistan. Somebody needs to give it a try.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply

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