Monday, February 1, 2010
Improvised Manufacture of Explosives
There is an interesting article at HomeLandSecurityNewsWire.com that is the first place that I have seen the term ‘improvised manufacture of explosives’ (IME) used. As one would expect this deals with the process for making improvised explosives for IED’s and vehicle born IED’s (VBIED’s). James Crippin, the author, makes the point that many improvised explosives are made from readily available chemicals that are impractical to tightly control. He then goes on to recommend that general awareness training programs need to be conducted so that the public can recognize the components of these improvised explosives. His proposed purpose of this training is to have the public detect the anomalous purchase of these materials. As readers of this blog might remember, I have reported on the beginnings of such a training program being prepared by DHS. DHS has developed some basic training materials (including job aids to be posted in the workplace) for retailers to use with their employees to identify the odd purchase of chemicals used to manufacture IED’s. What is missing is the means of pushing this training down to all of the potential retailers. As I suggested in my earlier blog, manufacturers and distributors of these chemicals can perform a valuable societal service by requiring retailers to use these training materials. Crippin makes another very valuable point in this article. He recommends that police officers across the country should receive training in IME techniques, similar to training widely available on the manufacture of methamphetamines. The purpose would not be to make explosives manufacturers of these officers, but to allow them to recognize the manufacture when they stumble upon it in the course of their normal duties. Not only should they be able to recognize these operations from a legal perspective, but from a safety perspective as well. I would add that other first response type personnel should receive similar training. Firemen and emergency medical response personnel may be called to emergency scenes that contain such manufacturing operations. They need to be able to recognize the safety hazards associated with these facilities. Crippin also suggests that similar training be made available to the general public to allow them to be aware of the odd behavior around the buying or use of this material so that they could report it to the appropriate authorities. I am not so sure that that is a real good idea. While this information is readily available on the internet, pushing this information at the public would inevitably result in an increase in the experimentation with explosives by too many people, particularly teenagers. With the possible exception of this one area, I think that the Crippin article is well worth reading and deserves some serious discussion within both the law enforcement and chemical security communities. DHS should take the lead and determine how they can best head this effort.