Bomb threats are common. Most alleged bomb threats also turn out to be fake. While done for various reasons, they serve as an effective denial-of-service attack and waste lots of manpower and resources.

Have there ever been any bomb threats where real explosives were found to have been planted, or led law enforcement to a suspect with an explosives stash or the capability/knowhow of making explosives? I am skeptical, because it seems counterproductive for a genuine bomber to tip off the authorities that there is, in fact, a bomb ready to go off.

I am not asking about a terrorist group making a vague threat to kill or blow up their enemies, I'm referring to threats made for a specific time and place.

  • Why the downvotes? Tips on improvement are welcome.
    – Bigbio2002
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 20:45
  • 4
    I think that the down votes (I have not given you one) are due to the fact that it is extremely easy to find examples of credible bomb theats where a bomb has actually been planted and diffused, where someone has planted explosives in a device that might not have worked etc. Most terrorist bombs used to work this way. As such it can be thought to show a lack of research effort. Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 21:05
  • 7
    clearly you have never lived in, or checked the news from, Northern Ireland.
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 21:09
  • 8
    @Bigbio2002 The IRA, during its UK & Ireland terror campaign, was reluctant to kill civilians as this tended to generate bad publicity. But it liked damaging economic targets. Hence: credible warnings about real bombs.
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 21:15
  • 2
    @matt_black The last IRA bomb was about 17 years ago: when the OP was aged 8...
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


IRA Code Words Spell Real Threat

"This is the Irish Republican Army. A bomb is set to go off at the train station in 40 minutes' time. The code word is Shamrock."

Anti-terrorist specialists in Northern Ireland say the IRA began using the code words in the early 1970s, when bomb threats were so common that police had no way of knowing which were serious and which were pranks. The practice later spread to Protestant militants, who devised authenticating codes of their own.

Phone codes that prove bomb threats are real

The use of code-words is essential to the police if they are to save lives before a bomb explodes. But officers need to be sure the codes come from "genuine" terrorists, rather than cranks and time-wasters.

The procedure for organising codes has been long established. Codes alter periodically by agreement between the Provisionals and the security forces, both sides knowing that a failure in communications could be catastrophic.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .