October 26, 2018


Exclusive excerpt from Left of Boom: The Citizen’s Guide to Detecting and Preventing Terrorist Attacks

As the nation comes to grips with an unprecedented terrorist campaign involving improvised explosive devices targeting prominent political leaders and members of the news media, questions are swirling about the relative sophistication, or lack thereof, of the bomber(s) and the devices.

However, my years of experience writing, producing and conducting anti-terrorism awareness training tells me that these are the wrong questions to be asking. The reality is that improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, like the ones that were mailed this week are very easy to construct for anybody capable of following a baking recipe and who has minimal technical know-how.

Last year I published a short guide to detecting and preventing terrorist attacks that was based on my many years of contributing to several national anti-terrorism awareness programs. It includes a detailed section on several recent terrorist cases involving IEDs — how they were constructed, the materials involved, how they were employed and the ease with which the terrorists involved acquired, prepared and deployed the devices.

From the pipe bomb built by Eric Rudolph to attack the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, to Richard Reid’s shoe bomb and the devastating power of Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb, we’ve learned that it is not that hard for people to make bombs. That leaves us with one option: To focus on those things that don’t look right so that we might detect and prevent the worst from happening.

Fortunately, prevention worked this week thanks in no small measure to the dedication and professionalism of the U.S. Secret Service, the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service.

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