Weird News Stories

Anarchists’ Cookbook? More like Terrorists’ Cookbook!

posted by Chris Valentine

This is from the BBC News:

A British teenager who is accused of possessing material for terrorist purposes has appeared in court. The 17-year-old, who was arrested in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire, was given bail after a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. It is alleged he had a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, containing instructions on how to make home-made explosives.

The teenager faces two charges under the 2000 Terrorism Act. The first charge relates to the possession of material for terrorist purposes; the second relates to the collection or possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism.

A second 17-year-old who is facing similar charges has already been remanded in custody and will also appear at the Crown Court on 25 October.

Now first of all, the thought of being labeled a terrorist because you possess a particular book is frightening and straight out of 1984 and V for Vendetta. Naturally, this story is scarce on details so we don’t really know the full picture. But simply having the Anarchists’ Cookbook in one’s hands hardly makes one a terrorist. We, uh, have friends who have that book. Yeah, friends.

Hell, it’s not even that good a book.


William Powell wrote The Anarchists’ Cookbook in 1971. (He’s now a born-again Christian and denounces it). The book was written to protest the United States government over the Vietnam war. The book contains recipes and instructions for the manufacture of explosives, drugs, rudimentary telecommunications phreaking devices and other dangerous and illegal items.

But it isn’t accurate. Explosives experts say it is dangerous and can get you killed.

For example,

A classic error is the recipe for extracting the drug bananadine from banana peels. The flaw is that bananadine does not exist; it was mentioned in the March 1967 Berkeley Barb as a joke but the Anarchist Cookbook took it seriously.

and also:

His methods for producing Mercury Fulminate is incomplete and dangerous. Between steps 2 and 3, the solution should be cooled. Do not breathe the fumes.

Powell’s recipe entitled “How to Make TNT” is also quite dangerous and incomplete. In step 1, mixing sulfuric acid and nitric acid will likely result in fulmination and red toxic fumes. Also the crude method he describes does not cover the removal of the Ortho-Dinitro groups. If this were not done, the TNT would be extremely unstable.

The description of picric acid does not sufficiently emphasize its unstable nature. For example, storing it in a cracked glass container may cause it to explode.

So yeah, if actual terrorists are getting their cues from the A.C., then the War on Terror is as good as won.

‘Cause I wanna be Anarchy

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