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Friday, June 2, 2023

Profiles in Excellence: Douglas DeLancey, Strategy Branch Chief at the OBP

Douglas DeLancey is Strategy Branch Chief at Office for Bombing Prevention, where the Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program (BMAP) represents one of the best ways to detect and report suspicious purchasing behaviors in the U.S. A key program of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s OBP, BMAP informs and educates retailers and the public about recognizing bomb-making materials, suspicious purchasing behaviors, and the reporting of suspicious activity.

The BMAP team led efforts in 2022 for CISA to collaborate with the FBI on Operation Flashpoint, a joint campaign between CISA and the FBI to build awareness in communities across the U.S. for preventing bomb attacks. The initiative aims to encourage businesses and the public to voluntarily report suspicious activities, su

ch as buying large amounts, or a combination of, chemicals and materials that can be used to build bombs. Currently, approximately 250,000 businesses across the nation sell or distribute everyday materials that can be used for deadly purposes. Bomb-making materials are readily available at beauty supply stores, hardware stores, pool supply stores, sporting goods stores, home centers, and elsewhere.
Domestic violent extremism is on the rise across the U.S., and extremists increasingly plot and attack using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Terrorists, criminals, and others often build IEDs from common household items using instructions found on the internet. Bad actors can easily purchase enough of certain chemicals and other materials that are readily available in stores to build home-made explosives. Programs that encourage voluntary reporting of suspicious activity can help avert future incidents involving such IEDs.

The Operation Flashpoint campaign has two main goals:
1. Build awareness – Reducing the threat of IED attacks by restricting access to explosive precursor chemicals (EPCs). This means helping businesses detect the illegitimate acquisition, theft, or diversion of EPCs at the retail level.

2. Encourage suspicious activity reporting – Providing businesses with training and guidance to report suspicious activity to police, consistent with the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI); and encourage reporting to the FBI’s tipline for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at 1-855-CALL-FBI (1-855-835-5324).

The BMAP team has spearheaded wide-ranging campaign efforts to highlight the dangers of EPCs. For instance, the team conducted more than 8,000 outreach efforts to make point-of-sale retailers aware of EPCs. The team also developed videos and Spanish-language materials to make diverse audiences aware of bomb-making materials, threats and resources.

BMAP’s outreach team has worked with FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinators, CISA’s Field Force, representatives from CISA’s Office for Bombing Prevention, and its state, local, tribal, and territorial partners on Operation Flashpoint. BMAP visits businesses and community leaders, providing training and outreach materials. During 2022, BMAP and the FBI held numerous awareness events that featured media, legislators, retailers and many others in locations including Orlando, Fla., Fort Collins, Colo., and Phoenix, Ariz. Concurrently, the BMAP team conducted a marketing campaign that reached 700,000 businesses through an e-mailing and mailing campaign. The BMAP team utilized a database of open-source information on businesses that sell or stock explosive precursor chemicals and bomb-making materials.

From “mom and pop” hardware outlets to big-box retailers, citizens and businesses throughout the country play a key role in helping prevent a potential bombing attack, since the bomber can use chemicals and materials readily available in stores. Bomb attacks are a significant threat: In 2021, the U.S. Bomb Data Center reported 1,876 bomb threats, 4,935 suspicious or unattended packages, and 381 bombing-related incidents across the U.S. Recognizing these threats early can help law enforcement take action to try to prevent attacks. Operation Flashpoint h

elps store owners, managers, and employees spot suspicious activities related to bomb making. As the eyes and ears in this community, residents and business owners alike can learn what to look out for and when to alert law enforcement to large purchases of potentially dangerous chemicals or combinations of items used in homemade explosives.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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