You can contact me at rogercdavies(atsquiggle)  If you have a comment and the system won't let you post it, ping me using the @ for (atsquiggle)

This blog has evolved into a review of historical and modern explosive devices, and responses to them. Links are drawn between historical activity and similar activity in the world today. Mostly I focus on what are now called IEDs but I have a loose personal definition of that and wilingly stray into discussions of more traditional munitions, the science and technology behind them, tactical employment and EOD responses. Sometimes it's just about interesting people in one form or another. Comment is welcome and encouraged but I do monitor it and reserve the right to delete inappropriate stuff. Guest posts are always welcome. Avoid any stuff that makes the enemy's job easier for them.

A note on moral perspectives. Throughout this blog there are descriptions of all sorts of people using IEDs, explosives, or suffering the consequences. Some of the people using IEDs are thought of as heroes by some and terrorists by others. One person's good guy fighting for a cause is another person's evil demon.  It's complicated, and history adds another series of filters too. All of us too live in a narrative made up around however we were brought up, what we were taught and what we learned along the way, rightly or wrongly. So if you sense moral ambivalence, one way or the other, well, I'm guilty and I'm not perfect.  By and large though, I have unapologetic sympathy for those dealing with the devices, whether they be soldiers, cops, or whatever, even those who are part of Nazi or other nasty regimes. That's the cool thing about EOD techs - we don't really care who the enemy is.


Entries in 1960-1970 (2)


Left, Right, Anarchist and Nut Job

The history of IED attacks in the US is full of surprises. The two organizations responsible for the most IED attacks, numerically, in the last 120 years is the Puerto Rican separatists organization the FALN (in the 1970s and 1980s ) with 126 IED attacks that killed 6 people in total, and the Iron Workers Union who between 1906 and 1910 used 111 IEDs to attack industrial targets, then finally the “bombing of the century” as it was called, when it blew up the offices of the Los Angeles Times. The subsequent fire killed 26 people.

I have blogged before about union attacks in the period, clearly industrial relations were very much an issue then, but the volume of attacks is remarkable.  But remember at the time there were other violent attacks on going – the “black hand” extortion gangs in the New York area were very active, as were the early bomb squads in terms of responding to them.  

 The LA Times bombing was the fourth worst bombing (I think) in US history, after the Oklahoma bombing, the Wall Street bombing and the Bath School bombing – tell me if I have that wrong.

The LA Times device consisted of a suitcase of dynamite left on some sort of timer. It was reportedly set to detonate at 4.00 am when no-one was expected to be in the building, but detonated early at 1.07 a.m. The whole case is fraught, even now, with question marks and conspiracy theories.  Indeed even the defendants lawyer the famous Clarence Darrow was caught bribing a juror. The end result of the bombing and the subsequent trial was a considerable set back for the Unions in Los Angeles.

At the same time as the incident at the LA Times, another IED was found on a windowsill at the residence of the owner, General Otis and another targeting another opponinet of the unions. 

So, in terms of perpetrators, the most fatal bombings in US history are the responsibility in each case of domestic terrorists:

  1. Radical right wing extremist (Oklahoma Bombing) 168 killed
  2. Regular nut job (Bath School Bombing) 45 killed
  3. Anarchist extremists(Wall St bombing) 38 Killed
  4. Radical left wing unions (LA Times bombing) 21 killed

Of course the 9/11 attacks killed more, but they weren’t IEDs per se. 


Bombs in lavatories

The conviction of a team of radical would-be terrorists who discussed planting IEDs in the lavatories of the British Stock Exchange  reminds me that lavatories are a theme in many IED attacks, which I think is curious.  Here’s a range of previous “bombs in the bogs”"

Only a couple of days ago some sort of apparent explosive device was found in the lavatory of a Libyan plane in Egypt    For what its worth I don’t think it was an IED but the story is pretty cloudy for now.

In May 2008 there was the very peculiar incident in Exeter, UK, where a decidedly odd individual detonated a device while he was in the lavatories of a fast food resturant.

In 1957 an elderly man blew himself up in the lavatory of a passenger aircraft over California. A good investigation report is here    The device was constructed by dynamite and blasting caps with the blasting caps initiated by matches and burning paper.  Only the perpetrator was killed.

A similar dynamite IED functioned in the lavatory of an aircraft in 1962 over Iowa, this time killing all aboard.

A Canadian passenger aircraft  blew up after a device exploded in the lavatory over British Colombia in 1965. The crime was never solved.

In 1939, as part of a significant Irish terrorist bombing campaign in England a bomb was planted in a public lavatory in Oxford street. Disaster was averted when the lavatory attendant dumped the IED in a  bucket of water (not a good response, but a brave man).  Several other incidents in this campaign were IEDs left in lavatories. The attendant was awarded £5 for his bravery

In 1884, during another Irish bombing campaign in England, (yes there have been a few) the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, was severely damaged in an explosion caused by a large IED being left in a public lavatory next door to the police Headquarters.  Here’s a picture. 

There’s an interesting aspect to this story. Several months earlier, in 1883, an Irish revolutionary organization , the Irish Republican Brotherhood sent a letter to Scotland Yard  threatening to 'blow Superintendent Williamson off his stool' and dynamite all the public buildings in London on 30 May 1884. The Met Police largely ignored the warning, and then on the very day promised the explosion at Scotland Yard occurred, as did two other explosions elsewhere in London.  The failure of the Met Police to protect their own headquarters, as well as the occurrence of several other IED attacks across London embarrassed the police severely and led indirectly to the formation of Special Branch.

There are numerous other IED attacks on lavatories, too many to list.