Explosive Terrorism Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2243 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Terrorism


Ever since the year 2001, The United States Homeland Security has been specifically focused upon not only defending the country against terrorist attacks and providing care in the aftermath of such an attack, but also on preventing similar future attacks. The best way towards prevention is an understanding of the precise threats facing the country and cultivating ways in which these can be eliminated. One of the most devastating and destructive of these threats is explosive devices. Homeland Security and other agencies have a vital role to play when faced with these threats. This role includes official action to gain intelligence and perpetrate offenders, as well as informing the public of potential threats to help citizens ensure their own safety in case of an attack. The help of the public can also be requested to help the Department with its task to ensure public safety.

According to the Center for HealthCare Emergency Readiness (CHCER, 2011), the Homeland Security Department is the culmination of nation-wide efforts to prevent terrorist attacks in the country. In the event that such attacks could not be prevented, the work of the Department culminates in providing recovery assistance and minimizing the damage occurring. Among several policy directives for Homeland Security, the 19th one refers to the threat of explosives.

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Specifically, Homeland Security Policy Directive 19 is focused upon the terrorist use of explosives in the United States. A national policy is in place to prevent this, and there are calls for the development of a national strategy and implementation plan. These should focus specifically on the prevention, detection of, protection against, and response to the terrorist use of explosives in the country. This policy integrates with the other policies to ensure that Homeland Security is an integrated effort to ensure public safety for all Americans during the turbulent times we face today.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Explosive Terrorism Assignment

Kress and Grogger (2008, p. 66) reiterate the fact that one of the intentions of the terrorists is to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for maximum destruction across the world. Because it is estimated that terrorists will continue to use such devices to further their destructive purposes, the authors note that a joint effort at all levels of government will be necessary to mitigate the threat. Hence the reason for the Homeland Security Presidential Directive -- 19, which focuses on the threat of explosives used by terrorists. The Directive was implemented on February 12, 2007.

One of the main challenges related to the use of explosives by terrorists is the ready availability of materials that might be used for constructing such devices. Additionally, instructions for manufacturing explosive devices for a variety of operational requirements and targets re also relatively widely accessible. According to the authors, there are several agencies currently working to deter this threat. The Office of Bombing Prevention (PBP) is the lead agent that coordinates the nationwide program to help prevent the IED threat in all its manifestations.

This coordination then also concerns the 11 requirements inherent in HSPD -- 19. These include an inventory of existing regulations and policies and an assessment of existing government capability.

Another agency, the Boom Data Center (BDC) within the Justice Department collects and maintains official data on explosive events within the United States. These data are used to conduct trend analyses, the results of which are provided to other agencies in the country working with bomb threats.

Such databases are then helpful in joint efforts to prevent bomb threats and related incidents. The Terrorism Task Force, for example, includes Federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel, who work together to investigate terrorist activities and threats. This includes bomb threats. The authors also specify the type of activities that might be considered under the umbrella of IED.

Particularly, according to Kress and Grogger (2008, p. 66), IEDs include several devices and types of attack by the enemy. Suicide bombers in crowded areas such as subways or entertainment centers are one example. Vehicle bombs may take the form of a regular or emergency response vehicle. Either can be parked close to a crowded sports or entertainment area, or near hospitals or other important and crowded buildings. The purpose of IEDs is to create not only the maximum damage, but also to create emotional and psychological distress. In addition to physical, death, injury, and economic damage, there are also severe non-physical effects on those who survive the attack. These effects could escalate throughout the country, particularly as a result of large-scale attacks such as those perpetrated on 9/11.

According to Homeland Security (2009), the terrorist threat in terms of explosive device continues to be a significant one. Terrorists have both the willingness and ability to use these devices to further their destructive purposes, and it has led official investigators to conclude that they will continue doing so. In addition to the ready access to ingredients for explosive devices, a further challenging factor in the prevalence of the terrorist threat is the structure of the free American Society in which perpetrators operate.

For this reason, the Homeland Security policy is to mitigate this particular threat by coordinating on a variety of levels, including the Federal, State, local, territorial, and tribal government levels, as well as with owners and operators of infrastructure and resources.

There are several specific ways in which the policy attempts to accomplish this. One of these is the use of psychological and behavioral analysis to determine potential threats. Hence, if surveillance reveals suspicious behavior while purchasing specific ingredients combination, a threat can be projected. Another technique listed by the document is the use of technologies and capabilities to look for explosives and disable them before they detonate. This would include not only the finished explosive product, but also explosive materials and chemicals that can be combined to make improvised explosive devices. There are also pre-blast or pre-functioning search procedures that can help identify possible explosion threats. The document also emphasizes that an important component of threat detection and deterrence is coordination; where specific roles and responsibilities need to be clarified for the heads of agencies. The responsibility of these agencies is also to create an in-depth investigation, including gdetection, prevention, protection, and response activities. These can then be used to recommend national strategies to create a safer environment for all Americans.

Compounding the threat of explosive devices within the United States is the increasing amount of Americans who themselves are seduced by the terrorism paradigm. According to the Homeland Security.com (2011) Website, 50 of the 88 individuals involved in terrorist plots in the United States were American citizens at the time when they were arrested, of which more than half were born in the country.

To counter the explosive threat in the United States then, it has become essential for officials and agencies to target the potential threat on home ground. This is a particularly insidious threat, as American citizens are more familiar than their foreign counterparts of the freedoms that would allow them to construct and detonate explosives before being detected.

To handle this concern, the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group is comprised of security experts, officials, law enforcement leaders, community leaders, and first responders. This group investigates terrorist activity, including bomb threats, and provides targeted information relating to these threats. Analysts and responders can then use this information to be more effective in their responses to terrorist and bomb threats.

The report also notes the emphasis on a local policing paradigm, where officers can be taught to observe their environment and identify potential threats in a more focused way. Ultimately, the aim is to create a basic in-service training for all new law enforcement personnel, with the goal of identifying and mitigating the threat. Community-based partnerships among officials is also important in their interconnection with other communities to ensure that communities learn from each other and follow best practice at all times.

The current manifestation of the terrorist and explosive threat is in the form of new types of explosives and bombs that terrorists use to devastate an unsuspecting public. One example of these is surgically implanted explosives in the bodies of suicide bombers. This is done to prevent detection when these terrorists board planes (Terminal U, 2011). According to the report, there was no specific or imminent threat resulting from the investigation at the time, but also that intelligence suggested a renewed interest in concealing explosive devices inside the body of terrorists. Further information suggests that the threat is likely to be from foreign shores rather than internal terrorist activity. This means that non-domestic flights are vulnerable to this type of attack, especially where security measures are not sufficiently stringent to detect such a threat.

The report states that this type of concealment is not new, but that new issues are created at airport checkpoints. As a result of this intelligence, for example, foreign passengers entering the United States might be subject to more random searches and pat downs than has been the case to date.

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