ISIS’s “Laptop Bombs” Are Remarkably Low Tech


In nearly every airport security checkpoint in the world, passengers traveling with laptops or large electronics must remove them from their bags and place them in a separate screening container. While the practice may be inconvenient for business travelers, it’s for a good reason: the complicated electronics of a laptop are a tempting place for terrorists to hide improvised explosive devices.

Last week, Donald Trump revealed to a group of Russian diplomats classified information possibly pertaining to an ISIS plot to use laptops to smuggle explosives aboard planes. Trump claims the information, which was “code word” classified by U.S. intelligence services, was “wholly appropriate” to share with the Russians to help both world powers combat the unspecified threat, which was reported to be the impetus behind the ban on large electronics on many foreign airlines entering the U.S.

The latest example of a laptop-borne IED is the 2016 bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159. Flight 159 was flying from Mogadishu, Somali, to Djibouti when a bomber detonated an IED concealed in a laptop on board, blowing a hole in the plane. The plane stayed in the air and landed safely — the bomber was sucked out of the hole he created and killed, and two passengers were injured. Continue reading.