Washington: Catching suicide bombers might become easier by testing the containers rather than the bombs hidden in them, thanks to a new technique.
Currently, law enforcement labs tend to test for DNA on the exploded bomb fragments, but this has a low success rate, said David Foran, a Michigan State University (MSU) forensic biologist and lead investigator on a research project.
Through the MSU-led study, researchers obtained DNA from backpacks that had been blown up with pipe bombs inside, and subsequently obtained full DNA profiles that matched all the volunteers who had carried the backpacks for a week.
The findings could ultimately change the way law enforcement officials investigate bombings, Foran said, the Journal of Forensic Sciences reports.
Foran noted that homemade bombs, or improvised explosive devices, have become the weapon of choice for terrorists and insurgents around the world, according to an MSU statement.
In the US, IEDs were used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996.
“This may change the way the investigators look at things,” said Foran, professor of criminal justice. “They may focus on other pieces of evidence if they know they’re much more likely to produce a DNA result.”
Foran said DNA is difficult to find on an exploded pipe bomb, likely because of the heat of the blast and the smooth nature of the pipe.
But DNA showed up on all of the backpacks, possibly because they weren’t as decimated as the bombs and because of their coarser texture, Foran said.