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ISIS Bombs, Bodies, Propaganda Shock Paris Terrorist Trial

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The third week of the trial of those accused of participating in the massacre of 130 people in Paris in November 2015 ended with three very different expert reports. The themes were ISIS DNA, explosions and propaganda.

A policeman showed the court how to make a bomb.

It’s not difficult, all the ingredients and equipment are readily available. “Anyone can do it,” the court said. This information was greeted with a nervous laugh.

It is extremely risky. So risky, in fact, that experts from the French police explosives laboratory have done very little research on TATP or triacetone triperoxide, the explosive used by the November 2015 killers. It is just too dangerous.

The police bomb squad systematically refuses to transport any object suspected of containing TATP, preferring to neutralize the notoriously unstable mixture on the spot. The best thing to do is to soak it in water, as the explosive quality of triacetone triperoxide quickly decreases if the crystals get wet.

The TATP was found in the unexploded suicide vest recovered at the Bataclan, in an abandoned vest recovered from a trash can in Montrouge, and in the front half of Brahim Abdeslam’s vest, which did not explode when he committed suicide in a crowded Parisian bar. Traces of the explosive were found on all the other vest fragments recovered.

The man who told us is Bruno Vanlerberghe, head of the explosives division of the central laboratory of the Paris police.

Similarities between vests used

He examined the evidence gathered by police investigators at the various attack sites and concluded that, in light of the similarities between the wires, batteries and detonators used in each case, the eight jackets associated with the bombings of Paris had been made in the same design. , if not necessarily by the same person.

“There are similarities between the devices,” he told the court, “but also small differences.” These differences included the plastic used to wrap the explosive powder, the duct tape sealing TATP’s packaging, and the brands of battery chosen.

The most consistent common feature of the vests were the steel bolt packs, 3.5 kilograms in each device – a total of 700 projectiles carefully taped to the front and back to be dispersed by the explosion, maximizing the injuries to anyone caught by the explosion.

When asked if he could explain why only the back part of Brahim Abdeslam’s vest exploded, Bruno Vanlerberghe suggested either an electrical fault that would have broken the circuit between the battery and the detonator or the failure of the detonator. to light up.

The tiny world of DNA

The DNA evidence was presented by Dr. Olivier Pascal, director of the French Institute of Genetic Markers.

This soft-spoken avuncular gentleman was quietly proud of the work his team of researchers did to identify some of the attackers and to link individual suspects to genetic material found in the three cars, weapons and hiding places associated with the attacks.

He explained the work of genetic analysis as the comparison of chemical sequences taken from human cells.

Pascal’s group was able to identify Foued Aggad based on the small amount of DNA recovered from a fingerprint left months earlier on an official document.

“It had never been done before,” Dr Pascal told the court. “Everything else was routine DNA testing.”

Islamic State and the propaganda war

The day’s evidence ended with a report by an anonymous counterterrorism policeman on the efforts of the extremely sophisticated propaganda wing of the Islamic State to maximize the impact of the Paris attacks.

The trial continues with the testimony of those injured by the killers. This should last at least five weeks. There is already a waiting list with the names of 60 other people who wish to testify.