7/7: What Went Bang?

Nick Kollerstrom – Terror on the Tube February 12, 2011

Something ripped apart the train coaches on July 7th, leaving splattered blood, loose limbs, twisted steel and derailed coaches – but, what? And, can the British public really be so gullible as to believe the government’s story about peroxide (boiled up in a saucepan) and black pepper?

The 7/7 Inquest has been hearing from forensic experts who are prepared to swear on oath and keep a straight face while discussing how a hitherto unheard-of mix of black pepper and hydrogen peroxide blew up trains and a bus on July 7th, 2005. (Earlier, in 2008, senior government analyst Clifford Todd had previously told the Kingston July 7th trial that the devices were ‘unique in the UK and possibly in the whole world’ because no-one had heard of this explosive being used before12 and he reiterated this at the Inquest (Feb 1,pm, 67:1-4).

An Unheard-of Bomb

Concerning the Tavistock Square blast, the Inquest was told:

“Chemical analysis of the debris suggests that the main charge used did not consist of any previously seen compositions… In the absence of chemical traces of other high performance military explosives and based on the physical damage done to the bus, it is not unreasonable to reach the conclusion that the main explosive charge consisted of a novel, improvised material previously unseen by this laboratory.” (Feb 2 am, 56:14-19)

by Kim Simpson, at the Government’s Forensic Explosives Laboratory at Sevenoaks.  Thus, after extensive laboratory analysis and detective-work, a professional forensic analyst could not say what exploded – it was something unknown to her laboratory. But, she did claim to have detected a trace of ‘piperine’ in the bus (found in black pepper), and she conjectured:  ”The main charge was most probably a novel mixture comprising concentrated hydrogen peroxide together with additional compounds, which may have included a piperine-containing ingredient.”  (2 Feb am 59:6-9)

At the Inquest, no government expert ever affirmed that a mix of black pepper and peroxide would go bang. Instead, five years after the event, we were merely told that the explosive was ‘most probably a novel mixture.’

At Russell Square, ‘none was found, no traces of HMTD or TATP or, indeed, any other explosive was found’.  (48: 21-23  Feb 1st pm)  (55:12-14) ‘At Russell Square, no parts of an initiator were found and, as you said earlier, neither were any traces of HMTD’ – Hugo Keith.

At Edgware Road, ‘the standard test for organic explosives proved to be negative (51:21-22)…  and in no case did we find any  (52:10-11) trace of conventional high explosives’.

At Aldgate: Q: There were analyses carried out as to whether or not the piperine substance could be found at the scene, but were your conclusions inconclusive in that regard?   A. That’s right, we tried to see if we could find that and, in the end, we weren’t successful, so we couldn’t draw any conclusion from that.  (51:20-25)

We’d all been told – or thought we had – that the explosive brewed up by the ‘suicide bombers’ had been found in the car in Luton car-park, and also in the bath at Alexandra Grove, Beeston. If so, there would have been ample opportunity to analyse it. The Inquest did not hear of any chemical analysis here performed, which identified what had gone bang! Had those compounds really existed then we would surely have had their chemical composition analysed – and reported. The conjectured explosive used would not have kept mutating over the years as if new fashions could replace the old. If perchance a peroxide-based explosive had been found then the one analytic detail we’d require to be told is its % concentration.

The Inquest did hear Mr Todd affirm that: ‘Our first analysis on some materials from Alexandra Grove showed us the presence of a material called piperine. It later transpires that that is simply something that is contained within black pepper.’ So, they found some black pepper. But also, it heard of ‘the detonator’ as a white powder being identified:

“Q: ‘Did you undertake investigation of what that white powder was?
A. We did, and that was HMTD, which is a particular — a very sensitive high explosive, it can be manufactured relatively easily from readily available materials”. – Cliffod Todd (Feb 1st pm, 40: 8-12)

HMTD is a very unstable explosive, detonated by many things including friction.

TATP (2005 – 2007) Fades Away

For several years after the event, the experts had averred that a volatile substance called TATP had blown up the trains and was therefore what the four young men had carried down south in their rucksacks. TATP (Tri-acetone tri-peroxide) is white. It was in the bath, newspapers reported6. Also, it had been left behind in the car park at Luton.

‘Preliminary analysis’ had found ‘traces of TATP’ both at the site in Leeds, according to the prestigious Jane’s Defence Weekly, on 22nd July, 20058 and at the sites of the explosions: that analysis linked together the London bombs with the Leeds plotters. Military experts around the world would have read this. On 26th July, ABC News released a sequence of images of what had, it claimed, been found in the Luton car-park, and they clearly showed a white substance9.

By the time of the 2008 Kingston trial, all that had vanished without a trace  – just like TATP evaporating on a summer’s day.

If we go back to the ‘Official Report’ of 2006 on the London bombings, the Home Office’s official narrative, all it told us concerning the ingredients, one year after the event, was: ‘Forensic analysis of material taken from Alexandra Grove continues’ – i.e., it was not prepared to comment on what explosives might have been found there. Three years later, Andy Hayman’s book ‘The Terrorist Hunters’ – impounded upon publication on a High Court order, on the grounds that it disclosed ‘too much’ – merely said that on July 12th a ‘thick bubbling yellow liquid’ was found in the bath at Alexandra Grove with an ‘unbearable rotting stench’ and no hint as to what it was: pure school pantomime.

At the so-called ‘bomb factory at 18, Alexandra Grove in Leeds, pictures of the bath has been shown, at the Inquest, containing some sandy compound.

Clifford Todd stated on oath, concerning the explosives found, that he there found two types of brown sludge, one darker and not explosive, and ‘the lighter, sandy-coloured material, that was shown, in at least one specific case, to be a high explosive.’ (39:25 Feb 1, pm) We waited for the barrister to ask him of what the high explosive was made – but, he didn’t. He never said that his lab had analysed an explosive made of peroxide and black pepper.

Kilograms of black pepper must somehow have been purchased!

“Q. Some of the witnesses who searched at the flat describe the smell and odour that was there, a bleach-like odour, is that right?  �
A. Yes.
Q. And a pepper smell from — clearly from the many bags of pepper that were used?”

The Early Story

The TATP story replaced the early accounts from real forensic experts who found that traces of military explosive ‘C4’ had been found at the crime scenes2,3,4 plus evidence of timed detonators1 – i.e there would have been no suicide bombers because the military explosive (made in NATO laboratories and definitely not in a bath in Leeds) was exploded by timed detonators. The latter would explain why the three tube blasts went off within 52 seconds of each other. That story lasted about a week, then unaccountably faded away once the Leeds suicide-bomber story developed5.

Maybe the police got tired of being asked how four young men with no known  interest in chemistry or bomb-making could have mixed together strong sulphuric acid, acetone and strong hydrogen peroxide very slowly in a refrigerated fume-cupboard, to make the TATP.  The great advantage of TATP was that it transformed upon detonation entirely into gases without burning, so it left no residue, it was pure blast with no heat or light – so no-one could expect to find traces of it around the crime scenes.

Once the 7/7 trial came along in the summer of 2008, all trace of the TATP story had gone – to be replaced by the joke about black pepper. Like the zombie programmed characters in the film The Matrix, none of the British media objected. A proper detective agency would have wanted a chemical analysis of what was claimed as an explosive, whether in a car in Luton car-park or a bath in Alexandra grove – signed by a professional chemist, and stating what was found. That is what is here most notably lacking. A proper detective agency would need info about the blast pressure ratio which experts infer from the crime scene, because different types of explosive create a more or less intense shock wave upon detonation. It’s not rocket science.

We might at least expect The Observer to register some perturbation, after all on July the 17th it had reported that 22 lbs of TATP (tri-acetone tri-peroxide) had been found in the said bath at Alexander Grove6. Did that just fade away like a dream? It seems so. TATP is quite volatile, in the heat of the summer it would tend to evaporate, which was presumably the point of the ice cubes the Four were meant to have taken with them – so we would expect any TATP made to be stored in the fridge not left in a bath.

You don’t need a degree in chemistry to figure out that buying 17% peroxide from a ‘hydroponics’ shop will not enable you to concentrate it to an explosive level. 90% peroxide may be rocket fuel, but can you make it? Only a British journalist would believe that boiling ‘liquid oxygen growth promoter’ (ie 17% peroxide) in a saucepan will concentrate it up an explosive-blast level. Quite the contrary: and, one is more likely to concentrate the peroxide by freezing, where water will freeze out before the peroxide –but, that has never been a part of the Alexandra Grove story: pans and heaters were shown scattered around there, not fridges. But, even 50% peroxide is not explosive, it won’t go bang.

Let’s have a quote from the laugh-a-minute script:

“Clifford Todd (principal forensic investigator at the Forensic Exposives Laboratory, part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Sevenoaks): so what you need to do is concentrate that hydrogen peroxide and you need a method to know when it’s concentrated enough, and that’s what I believe those calculations referred to, how they were going to determine when they’d concentrated it sufficiently.
Hugo Keith: Hence the sensitivity of a revelation of that particular detail into the public domain?
Todd : Correct, yes.  (para 42, pm 1st Feb)”

Voila! The key, central issue where the entire government case falls apart is too sensitive, and cannot be discussed.  The actual method of such concentration - low-pressure fractional distillation (which will work if you have a pure solution of hydrogen peroxide to start with) – and its non-accessability to the young alleged bombers, and their total incompetence to operate such a process, would indeed be a ‘revelation’ as Hugo Keith indicated, which should under no circumstances be released into the public domain. Moreover even if they had by some miracle managed to achieve it, they would have no way of knowing that they had done so: short of trial explosions – which not even the most mendacious neighbour of Alexander Grove flat has claimed to have heard – there is no way the Four could have known whether the peroxide they had brewed up would go bang or just phut.

The above quote by Mr Todd continues, ’The calculations that we did see on a particular piece of paper appeared to relate to the density of hydrogen peroxide…’ (Feb 1, 41:24-25)’ No, Mr Todd, you know that to ascertain the strength of peroxide one has to find its specific gravity, an A-level chemistry operation involving exact weight and volume measurements, where no trace of the required apparatus is found in the Alexandra Grove photographs.

Will it go bang?

Hugo Keith: ‘Obviously the saucepans were used in the actual bomb-making process.’ (18:2) I suggest British anti-terror prosecutions should first be obliged to show they can get a bang out of the unlikely shop-purchased materials they are alleging were used, before wasting tens of millions of taxpayers’ money. Let them be given a saucepan, hair-bleach (or, more recently, ‘liquid oxygen’ from a hydroponics shop) and black pepper. If they can’t get a decent bang, then they should stop wasting our time with any more of these mega- fake-terror trials.

‘The bombers used respirators because the hydrogen peroxide gave off noxious fumes as it was boiled down, blistering paint work and killing plants outside one of the ground-floor flat’s windows,’ explained Dc Richard Reynolds, of the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 counter-terrorism command, to the Inquest No, Mr Reynolds: boiling peroxide may liberate oxygen, plus water vapour, but that is all. The ‘noxious fumes’ story is a hangover from the earlier TATP narrative which faded without a trace three years ago – its synthesis would indeed have produced frightful smells, requiring a fume cupboard and fridge.

The main identification of explosive at the Inquest, was of the ‘detonator’ HTMD which kept being found on clothing that supposedly belonged to the Four, and on the floor of the Nissan Micra car, Tanweer’s wallet, etc.

It strains our credulity that the flat never exploded. TATP, HTMD, peroxide being boiled – any one of these blowing up would have detonated all the others.

We are being given an analogy with the 21/7 ‘bombers,’ who two weeks after 7/7 mixed chappati flour with peroxide. Those ‘bombs’ just went phut – they did not ‘fail to explode’ as reported through the British media, they did all they ever could have done. However effective the detonator, that is all those ‘bombs’ could have done. Government reports on that event never cite the one thing that matters namely the concentration of hydrogen peroxide mixed with the chappati flour. Optimistically we might suppose that it was say, 40% – that somehow, Muktar Said Abraham and his co-plotters managed to get that far by boiling their shop peroxide.

There can be no comparison between the bombs used on 21st July 2005 which went phut and created fear (not terror) within the small circles that noticed them – and, the terrible shattering blasts two weeks earlier. Nobody capable of rational thought could suppose that the bombs were similar. I personally do not claim to know what blew apart the coaches that morning. I really, really wish the people of London would apply their considerable collective intelligence to answering the question. To do that they would first have to cease believing the government’s fairy tale from Hell.

Is Magdy Al-Nashar still alive?

Egyptian chemist Al-Nashar was renting the flat at 18, Alexandra Grove from a housing co-op. He had just completed his biochemistry PhD at Leeds, and flew out to Cairo on 4th July 2005 – with a return ticket, booked for August 12th. The Met must be very confident that he is not going to return, after all he might have some comments on the state of his flat as depicted at the Inquest.  He was flying out to thank the Egyptian institution which had funded his PhD, then when arrested in Cairo his laptop was found to be full of classical music. He suffered the nightmare of being held in captivity and grilled as to whether he was the ‘mastermind’ on the London bombings. He had indeed been a friend of Lindsey Jamal. He was released with no charges; which is indeed hard to square with all of the fiendish bomb-making equipment the Inquest has been shown, in his flat.

On 8th January 2007 the world was first shown pictures of the inside of his flat – oddly enough they were from a replica of his flat, constructed in Brooklyn, New Jersey!11 Well, fancy that. We would surely appreciate Mr al-Nashar’s comments on what exactly is a replica of what in this situation, after all the world of clandestine intelligence is proverbially a hall of mirrors.

Where’s the Fridge?

A huge industrial fridge was present in the flat – or, so the New York Police Department explained, reported by The Times on August 4th, 2005 (7):  ”An expensive fridge was found in the otherwise rundown flat in Dewsbury … they had commercial grade refrigerators to keep the materials cool,” said Michael Sheehan, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Counter Terrorism.” It would certainly be sensible to have such, if one were trying to brew up the liable-to-detonate substances such as TATP and HMTD. But, can you see one in the comprehensive map of the flat shown to the Inquest? Did these big ‘industrial fridges’  just fade away, along with the TATP? Perhaps we should re-launch the offer of the late Lord Patel, for a million pounds to anyone who can spot this fridge in the pictures!


“‘Its only bread’ remarked Muktar Said Abraham (MSI) to a bystander when the ‘bomb’ in his rucksack, comprising Chapati flour and peroxide, ‘went off’, or rather dribbled down onto the floor of the 28 bus, at Hackney, on July 21st, 2005. N.K.

If the Four had made bombs as the Inquest wants us to believe, then they would have to be comparable to the chapati flour – bombs that somewhat alarmed Londoners two weeks later: with the same method of concentrating the peroxide plus pepper in place of chapati flour. The ‘knowledge’ of how to make these bombs is the sort of thing one might expect to hear discussed at some Mad Hatter’s tea-party. No empirical verification has ever taken place – no real explosives expert has endorsed their feasibility – no bang is ever available on Youtube showing this mix.

There have been quite a few mega- fake-terror trials in London following 7/7, involving peroxide bombs. None of them gave us any hint as to how the alleged perpetrators could have known what concentration of peroxide they had ended up with – whether 10% or 40% eg. If the aim had been to make TATP, this would at least have had the advantage that one would be able to see if it was working, because white TATP would slowly appear. Would not the Four journeying down to London wish to have some idea as to whether their bombs would blow up?

My impression for what it’s worth is that detonators may have gone bang in the case of the 21/7 events, these supposedly being made of TATP. The Inquest has averred that detonators were made of a even more dangerous and unstable peroxide compound, HMTD.

Summarising, the Inquest has clarified that the Government cannot find any forensic chemist, who will claim to have been able to identify the primary explosive mix – not at London, Luton or Leeds.

References (in Chronological sequence)

  1. 11th July, 2005, World Tribune.com: Advanced bombs so powerful that none of dead have been identified; timers were used.
  2. The Independent, 12 July 2005: Christophe Chaboud, ‘On 12 July 2005, Superintendent Christophe Chaboud, chief of French anti-terrorism Coordination Unit who was in London assisting Scotland Yard with its investigation, confirmed to The Times that,‘The nature of the explosives appears to be military, which is very worrying….the material used were not homemade but sophisticated military explosives …’ (Nafeez Ahmed The London Bombs, p.24)

3  The Times, July 13th: Christophe Chaboud informed The Times that ‘traces of ‘military plastic explosive, more deadly and efficient than commercial varieties, are understood to have been found in the debris of the wrecked underground carriages and the bus.’ (Times, July 13th).

4        13th July Then on 13th July it was stated that these were of ‘C4’ explosive:
London explosives have military origin – Science Daily. LONDON, July 13 (UPI):

“Scotland Yard has asked for European cooperation in finding how last week’s London subway and bus bombers obtained military plastic explosives. Traces of the explosive known as C4 were found at all four blast sites, and The Times of London said Scotland Yard considers it vital to determine if they were part of a terrorist stockpile. C4 is manufactured mostly in the United States, and is more deadly and efficient than commercial varieties. It is easy to hide, stable, and is often missed by traditional bomb-sniffing detection systems, the newspaper said. Forensic scientists told the newspaper the construction of the four devices detonated in London was very technically advanced, and unlike any instructions that can be found on the Internet.’”

The Independent 14 July 2005, ‘A bath filled with explosives has been found at a house in Leeds that was the “operational base” for the London suicide bombers… The huge quentity of explosive found’

6.   17th July The Observer ‘London bombs: Three cities, Four Killers.’ El-Nashar left for Egypt on 4th July; ‘22 lbs TATP in the bath.’

7.   The Times, 4 Aug 2005 July,7 bombs used Hair dye say NYPD (as alluded to by Lord Patel)

8     Jane’s Defence Weekly 22 July  TATP links London & Leeds.

9      Photographs of the material present in the Luton car-park appeared on 26th of July 2005, released by ABC News in America. It showed white explosive material.

10        4 Aug 2005 The Times ‘July 7th bombs used hair dye, say NYPD’

11 Daily Mirror 8 Jan 2007   Exclusive – inside the 7/7 Terror house: replica of flat in Broklyn, made by NYPD. ‘Mr Cordes revealed the bombs were made with triacetone triperoxide, or TATP’. Mr Cordes revealed the bombs were made with triacetone triperoxide, or TATP.

12    On 14th April 2008, Neil Flewitt QC told the Kingston Crown Court that the mix of black pepper and peroxide was so ‘unique’ that the bombers must have had help designing and building them.


Nick Kollerstrom

Nick Kollerstrom academic, researcher and author of such varied titles as ‘Gardening and Planting by the Moon 2007: Higher Yields in Vegetables and Flowers’ and ‘Terror on the Tube: Behind the Veil of 7/7, an Investigation’.

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