Inside the FBI’s secret bomb lab: unparalleled access to elite forensic team, and the IEDs, the shape of the global security

Clockwise from the top: the 2001 Shoe bomb terrorist Richard Reid, supported by Al-Qaeda; the collar bomb that killed an alleged co-conspirator, 2003; shrapnel from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing; and an alarm clock from the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt.

(FBI evidence photos)

EXCLUSIVE: In a highly classified lab, protected by many levels of security in the sprawling Redstone Arsenal Army post southwest of Huntsville, the FBI chief explosive scientists is surrounded by powerful reminders of the ever evolving threat posed by terrorist bomb-makers applying the next 9/11.

The 2001 Shoe bomb carried by the Al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid.

2010 Times Square car bomb to kill and injure dozens in the vibrant heart of Manhattan.

2013 from Al-Qaeda-influenced pressure-cooker bombs that detonated near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

“It’s like the devil’s jigsaw puzzle,” Kirk Yeager explains on Fox News, during an exclusive tour of the bomb lab facility in Alabama. “Like a bomb … your job is, all the pieces and put together a coherent puzzle.”


The post-9/11 threat from these crude but deadly devices, the declared explosive scientists, “ongoing and eternal.”

With unprecedented access to the FBI laboratory known as TEDAC the Terrorist explosive device Analytical center – Fox News exclusively obtained evidence photos, the show, to understand that the bombs, in the Form of a global security after 9/11, and represent the ever-evolving threat people like Yeager are working tirelessly.


“The Shoe-bomb, one of the first major attempts against the air traffic in the United States, and was a game-changer,” Yeager explained. “Because this is the reason why we take off our shoes in airports.”

The 2001 Shoe bomb carried by the Al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid.


The evidence photos obtained by Fox News show the explosive was wedged in the sole of the infamous device.

“If you dissect it, it a waffle-pattern in the floor. And actually, each of these little waffles was … filled with an explosive.”

Asked why the Shoe bomb failed, said Yeager happiness and good screening played a role.

“You didn’t like something about the [Reid]. Don’t let him in his escape. He came back the next day. The authorities of a lighter of him had been taken away,” he recalled. “And he came the next day with a few hits, he was trying to sit there-and if you already tried that once, light represents, on one level, people start to smell it really quickly. His seatmates got a little nervous, started for help.”

Yeager Mrs Alice Isenberg, the monitors, now the FBI lab, analyzed the Shoe-bomb, the 17 years ago and was able to determine, he had help from the outside.

‘The Shoe-bomb, one of the first major attempts against the air traffic in the United States, and was a game-changer.’

– Kirk Yeager, FBI chief explosive scientist

“I compared the DNA profile of Richard Reid’s DNA profile, and found that it is not the same,” she recalls. “So, tell us, that the machine was built by someone other than Richard Reid.”

While Reid light failed on the detonator, which showed the FBI team, the jury a demonstration of the explosive force – in order to make it clear how much the damage would have been a successful Shoe-bomb.

Yeager and his colleagues say that their work is more than the analysis of explosives; it is designed to obtain “information, which is useful in the intel community, law enforcement authorities, and the actual bomb technicians and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) providers in the world, to help you make your work better and safer.”

Yeager also detailed forensics on the Al-Qaeda influenced the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, where pressure-cooker bombs killed three and injured several hundred. He showed Fox News the tattered backpack, fragments of the pressure cooker bombs and shrapnel used by the Tsarnaev brothers, in order to maximize losses. A bunch of copper-coated steel shot, BBs and small nails, all of which are designed to “increase the potential to be deadly for you.”

2013 Boston Marathon bomb shrapnel, including BB’s and nails, the pressure cooker.


The Tsarnaev brothers later threw homemade pipe bombs at police during a dramatic chase, this was not a surprising choice, Yeager and his team that an Al-Qaeda member tasked followers, the tactics in their terrorist magazine.

“I can show you a pipe-bomb Inspire magazine spoke. This is not new. Pipe bombs have been around for a long, long time,” he said.

Fox News saw the evidence photos from the scene, including the blast site, where it was left by the backpacks. “You can see some of the carnage left,” said Yeager. “The blood, the remains of people, the personal items that are lost, because they are on the run in a panic. You will see what looks like a bomb site, is the pure chaos.”

Created explains a further challenge for the use of force, as Yeager. “When people flee for their lives, they left behind purses, backpacks, and other items — and the bomb-tech, they arrive on the scene knows a bomb went off, and there is always a chance, there is a secondary device,” he said. All these abandoned possessions, which are then regarded as possible devices that need to be clarified, while the use of try forces, to save lives, “so it is a very complex, dynamic environment.”

To meet this challenge, the Huntsville team developed a new approach to disable to disrupt bombs from a distance, over the water, the detonation.

“Water is one of the most unique materials,” said Ian Vabnick, head of research, development, testing and evaluation, assigned to the FBI’s Counter-ID unit. “First of all … it has a very high heat capacity and relatively low density. And you can water-jet is very efficient also at very high speed, and that means a lot of work on the target.”

Fox News also went inside the massive FBI-camp in Huntsville, the home of more than a million pieces of the bomb proof. The vault is like a grim historical archive, with the investigators on trends and criminal law enforcement.

“If a scientist at TEDAC is a latent pressure within the IED, information is sought finds could be identified, for databases, and an individual,” said Isenberg. “The primary advantage that a terrorist has … that is their anonymity. If we are able to disrupt terrorist networks and in the analysis of the bomb-makers, we take advantage of this, you have. And then we can track them.”

2010 Times Square car bomb plot was another close miss.

2010 Times Square car-bomb, s-butane-bank.


“It was one of these bombs that had everything thrown in but the kitchen sink type. He had a gun safe … with an explosive charge. [Faisal Shahzad] had some butane tanks. He had pot a boiling. He had a kind of thermos bottle. He had a clock, timer, … none of which worked really well,” said Yeager.

The question of whether there is a successful attack, as Shahzad got the home-made car bomb to your destination, Yeager said, “Anytime you have a device, a non-functioning device, to a destination, it’s basically panic it creates and manages, you know, a feeling, not sure of the American public. you can get So it was a success.”

“It was one of these bombs that had everything thrown in but the kitchen sink.’

– Kirk Yeager, The 2010 Times Square Car Bomb

Isenberg and Yeager said the work can only be carried out by a team, that arose from the urgent need to disrupt improvised explosive device attacks in Afghanistan. The Terrorist explosive device Analytical center now partners with a variety of agencies, including ATF and other units in the defense, justice and homeland security departments.

For the investigators, and for some cases in 2003 plot that killed alleged co-conspirator, Brian Wells with a bomb seem to be never completed – like the bizarre locked around his neck.

“Collar bomb stick in my memory forever, because it took seven years of my life,” said Yeager. “It was a piece made up of hundreds, looked to me like it was probably part of the bomb, but not 100 percent sure. … And that will haunt me until I retire.”

Fox News’ Pamela K. Browne contributed to this report.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, DC she covers intelligence, the justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as the London correspondent.

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