October 10, 2007:
the more important intelligence tools in Iraq and Afghanistan are the instant
gunpowder residue tests the troops have been carrying with them for the last
two years. Now a new test, that detects if someone has been handling fertilizer
explosives, is available. This one involves swiping a cotton swab across a
suspects hand, and then spraying the swab with the detection spray. If the swab
turns red within a few seconds, your suspect just became more suspicious. The
gunpowder test has already caused an outbreak of repeated hand washing in the
terrorist community. That will only intensify with the new test. Actually, the
hand washing doesn't help that much, but troops know they are on to something
if they spot guys with very clean hands. Scented soap is also very popular in
this part of the world, so there's some hand sniffing going on as well.
All this seemingly odd
behavior not only takes terrorist gunmen off the street, but provides
interrogators with a large number of people who are likely to be involved in
questionable behavior. That makes the intel job a lot easier.