Our English correspondent Seneca III has applied his analytical abilities to photographs of the building at 514 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, before it exploded, burned, and was demolished.
by Seneca III
In addition to the commenters directly referred to below I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you GoVers who have contributed to this analysis through your comments, and particularly your links as posted on Parts I, IIA & IIB. ‘Distributed network’, indeed!
Also my thanks to those necessarily nameless old colleagues who in the background have shared with me some of their long-gone experiences and have mercilessly critiqued some of my more outré suggestions. And, finally, also in the background, the Baron for his time spent examining and commenting on some of the photographs I was using and for pointing me in certain directions which, whilst not all were fruitful, were useful in a process of elimination and in opening up other lines of enquiry.
— S III
Errata: In Part IIB I suggested that one particular piece of debris originated here…
…where in fact it came from the first window as is illustrated here…
… and its origin further reinforces the obvious conclusion that the explosion occurred in the right-hand room of the apartment immediately above the grocery at No. 514…
…whilst the post-explosion position of that piece of debris, deposited across the road way beyond the panel blown from over the entrance to the stairway and thus at a significant angle from a line drawn directly in front its point of origin might further indicate that the epicentre was located either centrally or to the left hand side of the room in focus.
Part III — Summary: Something Fishy This Way Comes
“There are known knowns. These are things that we know.
There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
— Donald Rumsfeld
1. Known knowns
|(a)||At 0816hrs on 01/01/14 the explosion/fire was reported by a police officer who was attending the scene for other reasons. (Reasons never fully clarified officially but see 2(d), below.)
|(b)||Later that same day Fire Chief John Fruetel and other local emergency service officers and politicos held a (immediate/impromptu?) press conference, where there was no mention of a ‘gas explosion’ and where the Chief professionally answered some the questions with “I do not have that information” and would not permit himself to be drawn into making speculative comments.
|(c)||At some later time/date (as reported by KMSP on 01/03/14 and updated on 01/04/14) the following quotations were attributed:
|(d)||At a later time/date (that I couldn’t pin down) Chief Fruetel spoke at another, this time formal and possibly scripted, press conference, where he again proposed the gas explosion hypothesis.
[I suspect that the puppeteer on his right (left of photograph) is Abdi Warsame, a (Muslim Somali) Minneapolis Council Member, and the particularly shifty-looking character on his left is Representative Ellison. His (Ellison’s) body language is fascinating, a classic demonstration of how a powerful intimidatory presence can be utilised to ensure a particular script is adhered to although there is no way of knowing if that is the case here (see Unknown unknowns in the Afterword), whilst the demeanour of the Chief is very different from when he was speaking impromptu at the scene, particularly in his use here, but not previously, of hand gestures** to reinforce his point whilst at the same time his facial features are those often associated with a person functioning unwillingly under duress (a.k.a. induction by stress/threat conditioning).
(**An understanding of hand behaviour is crucial to decoding non-verbal behaviours where what the hands do is directed — either consciously or unconsciously — by the brain, which over the course of human evolution has been hard wired to enable us to accurately communicate our emotions, thoughts and sentiments whether in conjunction with spoken language or otherwise.)]
2. Known unknowns
|(a)||The actual cause of the explosion.
|(b)||Why did the DHS attend what was being presented as a domestic gas explosion, and do so with such alacrity, and did the time of their arrival on the scene precede the growing inclination to attribute the explosion to gas prior to any forensic investigation actually taking place?
|(c)||Why was the building so rapidly and so totally demolished in contravention of the clear and detailed procedures laid out in the US Department of Justice publication ‘A Guide for Explosion and Bombing Scene Investigation’** here, published as a result of the (mismanaged?) investigation of the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma, and hence who ordered/suggested/authorised this demolition?
|(d)||What really was the ‘Electric Shock’?
Anon on January 9, 2014 at 3:29 am said:
[Whilst I cannot find a link to any source mentioning blown-off legs (more on this in the summary) the following interview with the St. Paul Fire Chief is revealing for several reasons.
|(f)||The significance, if any, of the logo on the door of No. 510 as it was in June 2011. (Part I, and it’s still niggling me.)
3. Unknown unknowns
|(a)||There has been a rush to judgement, a judgement that would appear to have been driven by a person or persons unknown for political (or politically correct) reasons rather than pragmatism.
Comment: I leave this open to you, the reader, with your far better knowledge of how things work over there across the pond.
|(b)||Much of the “witness-based” evidence as has appeared in the public domain is either inconclusive, incomplete or contradictory. This is not unusual in itself but, in the context of there now being no chance of a thorough, conclusive forensic investigation, it does diminish (if not totally negate) the chances of arriving at the true cause of the explosion and subsequent fire. It thus begs the question “To whose benefit would that sort of indefinite result be?”
Comment: Ditto (a), above.
|(c)||All of the indications are that this was not a gas explosion (see Parts I and II), but a relatively small high explosive detonation (missing legs? at table height?), possibly with an even smaller, slightly earlier precursor detonation (electric shock?) that initiated a train of events that led to the explosion/fire some 15 minutes or so later.
Comment: On 01/02/14 I posted as follows…
Seneca III on January 2, 2014 at 5:51 am said:
…and I remain very much of this opinion. Furthermore based upon personal experience and with reference to ‘missing legs’ it should be noted that shaped charges, whether shaped by commission or omission, have a focused blast front the results of which have often been observed in the remains of suicide bombers who had used belt bombs. (See also Appendix A.)
|(d)||The fire was extremely fierce and widespread for a domestic fire that had been rapidly responded to.
After several hours of thousands of gallons of water being pumped in, the roof collapsing, and two hours after the original conflagration being visibly extinguished and much of the building turned into a block of ice another fierce fire breaks out in one corner of the domestic top floor giving off dense black smoke.
Petrolman on January 11, 2014 at 4:24 am said:
This is possible but such bombs are bulky, heavy and difficult to transport in a concealed manner. Materials such as plastics and petroleum products give off black smoke during thermal decomposition; so do many other flammable liquids. Acetone, for one, is highly flammable with a flash point of -20oC and can be chemically extracted in small quantities from such common products as nail polish remover, boot polish, paint thinner etc. etc., and this requires substantial amounts of these commercially available products in order to extract workable quantities of acetone. And likewise with hydrogen peroxide, the second base constituent of DATP/TATP, which is oxygen rich even in its diluted form, is both photo- and heat-reactive and gives off its second oxygen atom very easily indeed. Think of the storage space needed for substantial amounts of these base products, and think also tribalism, tribal obligations and cultural mores.
Procedures for investigating explosions and bombings are clearly and comprehensively laid out in the document linked to in 2.(c), above. Indeed these procedures share much in common with the procedures laid out in the corresponding British Health & Safety Executive’s Directive ‘Investigating Major Gas Fires and Explosions’, here, specifically:
And where shoring can be carried out even on burnt out buildings with badly bowed and cracked structural walls…
…it is done — slowly and carefully, but done none the less, one carefully recorded step at time…
…and such a procedure surely should not, in 2014, be beyond the capabilities of a country that 75 five years ago constructed the Empire State Building in only 410 days and then, nearly half a century ago, put men on the Moon — provided there was the will to do so, that is?
|(a)||‘Unknown unknowns’ do not exist within some hypothetical parallel universe defined by set of (physical) n-dimensions but in the same universe as us defined only by the one-way flow of time. Time’s inexorable progress has in the past been known to toss up some interesting detritus on the shores of prior obfuscation and politically-motivated dissimulation.
Hence, Seneca III’s Hypothesis: Something will turn up if we wait long enough and enough people (hopefully including some people with substantial political clout) agitate hard enough, and when it does turn up that something will at first move up one level where it may tarry for a while until forced up another level into the full light of day. Bank on it.
|(b)||In the comments to Part I on January 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm sgtredbluered said:
Hereunder: First a review of that side of the building showing the position of the wall fitting in relation to the general surrounds and the walkway level light…
…and then we move in on the human activity taking place beneath and (if not obscured by the foliage, which is difficult to determine from the available perspective) directly within the line of sight of the fitting…
…and have a good look at the hand positions of both of them and the body language of the gentleman on the right — specifically the position of his right leg that often illustrates the shifting of body weight and the posture-easing of someone who has been static in one location for some time — and also what is presumed to be a cell phone at his left ear. My bet is that the apparent static location of the man on the right, the cell phone and the wall mounted camera(?) are all interlinked for a collective purpose, whatever said purpose could be and which I leave open for speculation by others in the context of local knowledge and later events. Good luck!
— Seneca III, Middle England, 19th January 2014 — 18 Raby’ al-awal 1435 Al Hijri
Appendix A: Explosives.
In conventional high explosives such as TNT, each molecule contains both a fuel component and an oxidising component. When the explosive detonates, the fuel part is oxidised and as this combustion reaction spreads it releases large amounts of heat. The explosion of TATP (detonation velocity 5200 m/s) involves entropy burst, which is the result of formation of one ozone and three acetone molecules from every molecule of TATP in the solid state. Just a few grams of the material produce tens of litres of gas in a fraction of a second:
- Acetone peroxide — otherwise known as triacetone triperoxide or peroxyacetone — is an organic peroxide, and can be used as a primary high explosive.
- It commonly appears as a white crystalline powder and has a distinct smell of bleach.
- It is highly volatile, and particularly susceptible to heat, friction and shock.
- It is created through the chemical reaction between hydrogen peroxide and acetone in the presence of other reactants.
- It is chemically notable as one of the few high explosives not containing nitrogen – making it popular with terrorists as it can pass through scanners designed to detect nitrogenous explosives. (HMTD, hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, another popular jihadi DIY product, does however contain nitrogen.)
- As little as four grams can cause a detonation when ignited.
- Trace analysis can be carried out by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry — when, that is, there are any traces left to analyse!
Some of its [TATP] blast effects can be seen below:
Previous posts about the explosion and fire in Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis, on New Year’s Day 2014:
For links to previous essays by Seneca III, see the Seneca III Archives.