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In the European INHERIT consortium under coordination of the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), researchers at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) will develop advanced analytical methods for the chemical profiling of frequently encountered precursors to illegal explosives. Working together with the FBI, the aim of the consortium is to develop new methods and strategies to disrupt terrorist timelines and prevent attacks with explosives in Europe and the USA.

Prof. Arian van Asten of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences coordinates the INHERIT work package dedicated to pre-blast forensics. His PhD student Irene van Damme will develop advanced analytical methods for the chemical profiling of precursors that criminals and terrorists use for the illegal production of explosives. This includes isotope analysis to be conducted in the labs of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics under the supervision of Dr Eva de Rijke.

Additionally, the transfer and persistence of the chemicals involved will be studied. This will enable the development of novel strategies for the sampling and detection of minute traces of explosives and precursors on fingerprints, human hairs, clothing fibers and other objects and surfaces. These insights will then be used for improved sampling and analysis strategies for covert investigations by intelligence services.

Irene van Damme will conduct parts of the research at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) and TNO laboratories and test facilities, under the supervision of Dr Annemieke Hulsbergen and Prof. Antoine van der Heijden, respectively. Other partners in the work package include the FBI (Quantico, USA) and the police services of Greece and Northern Ireland.

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