Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Defense and Security Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


This work is initially derived from a non-public disclosure series of early warning presentations, first delivered in September 2006, by the author on the projected terrorist use of body cavity suicide bombs against high value targets. Subsequent terrorist use of such a device, in August 2009 in Saudi Arabia by an Al Qaeda operative, has allowed for this body of research (along with post-incident analysis) to now be published in an open venue. The work provides a historical overview of the use of suicide bombs by military forces and terrorists; addresses the co-evolution of suicide bombs and countermeasures by security groups; analyzes future suicide bomb placement options; and explores Islamic views on the acceptability of foreign object placement in body cavities. It then focuses on issues pertaining to body cavity bomb placement options; bomb components, assembly, and detonation issues; putty, cheese, and the Fadhel al-Maliki incident; Al Qaeda use validation— the Abdullah al-Asiri incident; and concludes with a discussion on body cavity bomb countermeasures and strategic use implications. The work signifies the value of early warning and futures analysis applied to counter-terrorism activities and also highlights the tensions and inherent contradictions involved with individuals who wear the dual hats of practitioner and scholar. These individuals, given the requirements of operational security and secrecy, are challenged with ensuring that open discourse and publication in no way threatens the greater public good.

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© 2011 Robert J. Bunker

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.