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THE DETECTORS SNIFFING OUT TERRORISM New canine programme intended to assist security services and detect volatile explosives
he sight of a canine being used alongside its handler to protect vital establishments is an everyday occurrence. However, several security services are intensifying the training programme of canines to help in the war on terror. The fear of a ‘dirty bomb’ attack in the United States or Britain has never been higher, and both nations have set in motion a series of programmes to augment overall security. Part of that ambition means a greater deployment of canines.
In days gone by, guard dogs were often used by households and companies to present a warning to would-be burglars. In WWII dog units would assist soldiers assigned to beach patrols and pier watches to aid in detecting enemy spies and
saboteurs. Throughout recent history, canines have also been used in search and rescue and narcotics detection. Unfortunately, as terrorists seek to infiltrate nations and transport explosives and chemicals across vast areas, canines are now being employed ever more frequently by the security services. Early detection of threats is crucial to the safety and security at airports, maritime ports, shores, waterways and other transport entry points - a fact not lost on the intelligence world.
FBI Labrador ‘Jed’ pictured with his handler patrols a government facility
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Yet it is the fear of a ‘dirty bomb’ or chemical attack that concerns organisations like the FBI and MI5. Terrorist groups have long used explosives to create fear amongst populations across the globe. Intelligence services quite rightly believe that machines and technology provide the best method of detecting such
materials. However, when scientists pointed out that some dogs can detect as many as 19,000 different combinations of explosives, ‘mans best friend’ suddenly became an even more vital component in the security business. In December 1999, a man was caught trying to smuggle a highly volatile explosive examethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD across the US-Canadian border to attack Los Angeles International Airport. The affair was dubbed the ‘Millennium Plot’. Two years later, would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid attempted to use a similar explosive triacetone
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Reid’s ‘shoe bomb’ - had the device exploded it would have destroyed the aeroplane
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