Paris explosives are a key clue to plot

Story highlights

  • Peter Bergen: Terrorists used an unstable compound made from household ingredients
  • He says authorities in the United States and other Western countries need to be on the lookout for bulk purchases

Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden -- From 9/11 to Abbottabad."

(CNN)French prosecutors say the bombs used in the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday were made from TATP, a fact that yields important clues about the way the plot was planned and executed.

TATP-based bombs are built using the common household ingredient hydrogen peroxide, which is used to bleach hair. Such bombs have been a signature of jihadist terrorists in the West for more than a decade because the materials are so easy to acquire, unlike military-grade explosives, which are tightly controlled in much of the West.
    Their use in the Paris attacks, as well as in terrorist plots in London and in the United States over the past decade, should remind law enforcement in the West that these TATP bombs are what jihadist terrorists may deploy in the future.