Fake Bomb Detectors still Endanger Iraqis

By Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

In 2007, the Iraqi Interior Ministry imported 7,000 ADE651 bomb detectors in a deal with British businessman James McCormick.

Though widely used at Iraqi checkpoints, these devices have not helped stop the bombings in Baghdad and many Iraqi provinces that have caused massive destruction and casualties. According to a report published by Alsumaria TV Dec. 31, 2014 saw a high level of bloodshed, with most casualties in Iraq being caused by car bombs.

The devices have a movable antenna installed on the plastic handle. The antenna is supposed to point in the direction of items containing explosives. However, seven years of use have shown that it does not. The antenna actually points out other unexpected items, such as perfumes, dental fillings and household detergents.

In a Jan. 23 telephone interview with Al-Monitor, Radio Demozy's director Ibrahim al-Saadi said that many baffling issues have been noted in the device. Whenever the antenna points at people, the security officers at checkpoints ask them weird questions such as whether they are carrying perfumes, or whether they were visiting a dentist. The device seems to randomly point to anything, leading some Iraqis to rename it the “detector of dental fillings,” Saadi said.

In its program “Talk of the Town,” Radio Demozy has dedicated episodes to discussing the bomb detectors, airing statements from officials on the matter.

In 2013, McCormick was sentenced in Britain to 10 years in prison for exporting these devices to several countries — including Iraq, the largest importer. The court found that the devices gave these countries a false sense of security and caused the deaths of large numbers of people.

The BBC published a report on Dec. 22, 2010, documenting the ineffectiveness of these devices, based on an experiment conducted by a British laboratory. The report revealed that the device had also been examined in the United States and was shown to malfunction. In 2013, another television show, Al-Baghdadia's "Studio at 9," also addressed the bomb detectors.

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