A pipe bomb tutorial featured in the summer 2015 issue of Inspire magazine. (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula)

Iran Threat: Retailers Warned by DHS to Watch Out for IED Component, Chemical Purchases

Communities need to watch out for suspicious purchases that could indicate construction of an IED, the Department of Homeland Security’s Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program said in a special advisory bulletin on the “Iranian-Inspired Terrorism Threat” Wednesday.

The BMAP is an outreach partnership that helps educate state and local entities on how everyday items can be used to craft explosives and helps businesses teach employees how to spot and report suspicious activity.

The advisory built upon Saturday’s National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin, which warned that homegrown violent extremists “could capitalize on the heightened tensions” after the targeted killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani “to launch individual attacks.” Stressing that there currently is not a specific threat, BMAP noted that “physical attacks continue to include the possibility of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, which are a staple tactic of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Quds Force, and proxy entities such as Hizbollah.”

“Individuals inspired to commit acts of terrorism may try to acquire or legally purchase common household items such as explosive precursor chemicals (EPCs), explosive powders, and IED components at retailers in your community to construct IEDs for use against infrastructure targets,” the advisory warned. “Our best opportunity to prevent an IED attack is to disrupt terrorists during the planning phase of the terrorist attack cycle. During the planning phase, terrorists are most vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation while attempting to acquire the materials necessary to build IEDs.”

“Alert members of the public can play a vital role in preventing terrorist attacks by reporting suspicious behaviors to law enforcement with a detailed description of the person, products purchased, and vehicle(s) involved.”

Suspicious behaviors include acting aloof, argumentative or manipulative, acting unusually agitated or antisocial, “exhibiting a noteworthy level of nervousness while inquiring about or purchasing potentially dangerous items,” surveilling security, or researching how to make a bomb.

Suspicious purchases include unusually large quantities bought in one shot or bulk purchases picked up in store, paying with large amounts of cash or another person’s credit card, ignorance of how a product is properly used or questions about unlawful or atypical uses, “refusing to accept substitute products that perform better or are less expensive,” being obsessed about the chemical makeup of products, or “unusual ordering, purchasing patterns and/or purchases spread across multiple stores in a chain.”

The BMAP can also help retailers learn how to recognize when IED components and precursor chemicals or explosive powders are being bought together.

Suspicious activity should be reported to law enforcement or 1-855 TELL FBI (1-855-835-5324).

(BMAP)
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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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