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Combating the Terrorist Threat
Terrorist attacks are on the rise. In 2009 alone there were over 11,000 attacks worldwide. A very large proportion of these attacks were committed using explosives. Defending against these attacks requires detecting the bombs, and bomb makers, as they move among us.
Naturally, those carrying out attacks go to great lengths to conceal their bombs. They hide them inside seemingly innocuous items. They shield them against scanning systems. And once the bomb is placed, there's no visible evidence to identify the bomber. Fortunately, there are other clues.
People who make bombs get microscopic amounts of explosives on their hands, their clothing, and anything they touch: the outside of container they put the bomb in... the handle of their luggage... the steering wheel and shifter of their vehicle. These explosive traces are invisible and difficult to remove, but they are still detectable using the right equipment.