Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Radical Militias and Chemical Security

The recent arrests in the Midwest bring the focus of the country back on the ugly specter of right-wing militias. Once again we have to consider the very disturbing thought that terrorist attacks in this country might not be the sole purview of radical Jihadists. There is a good general review of the topic to be found at HomelandSecurityNewsWire.com. One of the links on that page will take one to the Southern Poverty Law Center web site where one can find a wealth of information on the topic. Now I have yet to find a public reference to any specific threat that these groups would pose to chemical facilities. I suppose that arguments could be made that foreign owned chemical facilities might draw the ire of groups like these; that might make them potential targets. There is an article on the SPLC site that provides a hint to another type chemical facility target. This article, Rash of Bomb Cases Tied to Radical-Right Views, points out that a large number of recent arrests of these American radicals included bomb making charges. It seems that there is a predilection for the use of explosive weapons by these groups. While some of these actual explosives used in these incidents were bought or stolen, many were manufactured from their precursor chemicals. As their bombs almost inevitably get larger, they will find their bomb making chemicals harder to get without attracting attention from authorities. Both the FBI and DHS have been deploying programs to help commercial facilities identify the odd purchase of potential bomb making chemicals. This will force these bomb makers to look to the manufacturing source of the various chemicals to get the amounts of these precursors that will be necessary for making larger bombs. This will make any chemical facility that manufactures, uses, or stores these precursor chemicals potential targets for these organizations. If the number and size of these right-wing militias continues to grow, the threat of their attacking this kind of facility will just increase. Since these groups tend to operate near their home base, it will be essential for facilities that have these types of chemicals on-site to maintain good relations with their local law enforcement personnel. These agencies are likely to have a reasonably good understanding of the threat posed by local militias and should be able to provide appropriate threat level information.

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