‘EU laws on stop­ping ter­ror­ists ob­tain­ing chem­i­cals are too lax’

Re­port says more must be done to plug se­cu­rity gap sur­round­ing sale of pure in­gre­di­ents used in bombs

The Sunday Telegraph - - Terror On The Tube - By Steve Bird

EURO­PEAN laws meant to stop ter­ror­ists ob­tain­ing the in­gre­di­ents to make bombs like the one that par­tially det­o­nated at Par­sons Green are too lax, a re­port warns.

The de­vice was hid­den in a Lidl car­rier bag and thought to have been made at a house on Cavendish Road, Sun­bury on Thames in Sur­rey.

It is cur­rently be­ing ex­am­ined by Min­istry of De­fence sci­en­tists at a lab­o­ra­tory, is thought to have had a main tri­ace­tone triper­ox­ide (TATP) charge. The pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals would have been boiled down to a purer so­lu­tion. It is ex­cep­tion­ally volatile and can de­te­ri­o­rate very quickly.

Anal­y­sis of reg­u­la­tions con­trol­ling the sale, mar­ket­ing and use of po­ten­tially lethal chem­i­cals like TATP has re­vealed “prob­lems and chal­lenges” across Europe. Since 2014, all 28 EU coun­tries are re­quired to en­sure that the gen­eral pub­lic can­not buy pure forms of con­trolled sub­stances with­out a li­cence to show that they have a le­git­i­mate pro­fes­sional use for them.

Busi­nesses sell­ing and stor­ing these chem­i­cals are re­quired to alert au­thor­i­ties about sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions and stock thefts or dis­ap­pear­ances. But re­cent at­tacks on the West Lon­don tube, Manch­ester arena and Brus­sels sta­tion, as well as the blast at a bomb fac­tory near Barcelona, have high­lighted how ter­ror cells are still ac­quir­ing raw in­gre­di­ents, of­ten in purer forms than legally per­mit­ted.

A 10-page Euro­pean Com­mis­sion re­port on rules sur­round­ing ex­plo­sive pre­cur­sors found an alarm­ing “se­cu­rity gap” in how bomb “pre­cur­sor” prod­ucts are con­trolled.

Al­though reg­u­la­tions around more than 15 chem­i­cals have helped se­cu­rity ser­vices stop at­tacks, the re­port says con­trol­ling in­ter­net sales of po­ten­tially lethal sub­stances re­mains a prob­lem.

There were dif­fi­cul­ties mon­i­tor­ing im­ports and ex­ports, as well as con­fu­sion over what pro­fes­sions en­ti­tle peo­ple to legally buy con­trolled chem­i­cals.

The re­port high­lights how chem­i­cals like per­ox­ide and ace­tone are harder to mon­i­tor and con­trol be­cause they are house­hold prod­ucts sold by small shops whose staff may be un­aware of their obli­ga­tion to re­port suspi- cious cus­tomers. Mean­while, larger com­pa­nies with a high staff turnover need to train all em­ploy­ees to spot sus­pi­cious cus­tomers.

The re­port adds: “The threat posed by the use of ex­plo­sives pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals in man­u­fac­tur­ing home­made ex­plo­sives by ter­ror­ists re­mains high and is con­tin­u­ously evolv­ing. The Com­mis­sion’s pri­or­ity, be­yond full im­ple­men­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing pro­vi­sions, is to con­sider what mea­sures could strengthen the sys­tem in the fu­ture.”

Cit­ing a “pos­si­ble se­cu­rity gap” over con­fu­sion about which pro­fes­sions are legally al­lowed to buy chem­i­cals, the re­port says the Com­mis­sion will con­sider clar­i­fy­ing what in­dus­tries should be al­lowed to ob­tain purer sub­stances.

The re­port, sub­mit­ted to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, con­cludes that EU reg­u­la­tions have re­duced the amount of dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals on the mar­ket.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors at a house in Sun­bury on Thames in Sur­rey

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.