Fake bomb de­tec­tors re­main pop­u­lar

The Myanmar Times - - World -

WITH ra­dio-like an­ten­nae meant to swivel and point at ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing bombs, “magic wand” ex­plo­sive de­tec­tors pro­lif­er­ated through­out con­flict zones in the 2000s un­til they were ex­posed as a global scam.

But in an as­ton­ish­ing se­cu­rity threat, more than 15,000 of a new vari­ant of the hand­held de­vice have been made in Pak­istan to guard high-value fa­cil­i­ties, such as air­ports and gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions, de­spite of­fi­cials con­ced­ing they are use­less.

Many creators of the orig­i­nal de­vices are serv­ing long jail sen­tences for fraud, in­clud­ing Bri­tish busi­ness­man James McCormick. His ADE-651 be­came a main­stay of se­cu­rity forces in Iraq, where US$85 mil­lion was spent on them, be­fore they were of­fi­cially banned last month.

“It’s just a de­ter­rent – it’s good for po­lice and se­cu­rity per­son­nel to have some­thing in their hands,” an in­te­rior min­istry of­fi­cial said.

Pressed on whether Tal­iban and al-Qaeda in­sur­gents – who have been wag­ing an in­sur­gency that has that claimed more than 60,000 lives in Pak­istan since 2004 – may by now be wise to the de­cep­tion, he said, “Yes, they are savvy and they prob­a­bly are aware by now.”

His com­ments were backed by two other se­nior mem­bers of gov­ern­ment.

Si­lence over the mat­ter may be linked to the enor­mous sums of money in­volved in the busi­ness, ob­servers say, while many bu­reau­crats fear for their jobs if they speak out.

Pak­istan ini­tially im­ported for­eign de­tec­tor de­vices such as the ADE-651 and the Ger­man made Snif­fex but in 2009 Pak­istan’s Air­port Se­cu­rity Force (ASF) took over mak­ing and sell­ing the wands.

More than 15,000 units have been sold within the coun­try at a cost of 70,000 ru­pees ($700), ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial, amount­ing to a to­tal rev­enue of more than $10 mil­lion. –

Photo: AFP

Pak­istani pri­vate se­cu­rity guard uses an ex­plo­sive de­tec­tor to search a ve­hi­cle at a mall en­trance in Is­lam­abad.

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