AMU Homeland Security Intelligence Law Enforcement Public Safety Terrorism

The Dangers of Undetectable Weapons

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By Daniel Scorza, student, Criminal Justice at American Military University

Terrorists and security officials are in a constant competition with criminals who seek new ways to cause havoc and bypass security measures so they can successfully carry out their cruel deeds, while law enforcement works to detect and prevent each successive development.

While often government efforts are successful at preventing attacks, the pace of technological innovation renders complete protection almost impossible.

[Related Article: The Role of Local Police in the War Against Terrorism]

Known weapons of terror, such as firearms, knives and bombs are still regularly used but also are regular screened for. Newer weapons such as box cutters, mixtures of legal chemicals, and homemade zip guns are sought after as undetectable weapons and can often slip past security measures because they have innocent, non-threatening uses in addition to their malicious potential.

nylon fiber knifeOne such newer weapon often overlooked is the nylon fiber knife. Widely available in both physical and online marketplaces, these knives are as capable as their metal cousins of causing great bodily harm and even death.

Nylon knives were developed to be undetectable weapons with the specific intent of bypassing metal detectors and security wands. They are easily concealed in clothing or bags – much more so than firearms, traditional knives, and bombs. Nylon fiber knives have been used for attacks inside of correction facilities, courthouses, and in day-to-day street violence.

Many law enforcement officers are not yet attuned to actively seeking out and screening for nylon and plastic knives. Many officers may not have ever come across one; that unfamiliarity is part of the danger of these types of undetectable weapons. With little awareness of their existence – much less screening techniques to detect it – officers may miss threats and open the door for attacks.

Fortunately, nylon fiber knives can still be detected by another traditional security screening technique: the pat-down. While many security points forgo the pat-down in favor of metal detectors and wands, returning to the practice of a hand search can reduce the risk from this type of threat.

Daniel ScorzaAbout the Author: Daniel Scorza is a member of the Kappa Kappa chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society at American Military University. Daniel holds his B.A. in Criminal Justice and is currently working on his M.A. in Criminal Justice at American Military University. Daniel earned his degree with the intention of serving as a law enforcement officer and eventually wants to teach Criminal Justice. After he earns his M.A., Daniel plans to pursue his PhD in Criminal Justice.


Leischen Kranick is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. She has 15 years of experience writing articles and producing podcasts on topics relevant to law enforcement, fire services, emergency management, private security, and national security.

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