Chertoff working to stop IED attacks at home; IEDs as they are commonly called, have become the weapon of choice of today’s terrorists, “And increasingly, they are a threat in America”
(Newsday) WASHINGTON – The ingredients can be purchased from Home Depot. They are cheap and easy to assemble. And they can be combined to lethal effect.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs as they are commonly called, have become the weapon of choice of today’s terrorists, whether on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, or on public transit systems in Britain, Spain and India.
And increasingly, they are a threat in America, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told members of a think tank Friday.
“We have been working on this a couple of years, and I think we have made dramatic strides,” he said. “It is a very high priority.”
He said efforts to thwart such attacks must be preemptive.
“Before we have the actual explosion,” he said, “there are a series of intervention points when … we can stop that boom from taking place.
“That begins with deterring and incapacitating those who obtain the funds for IEDs … intercepting the gathering of materials for the IED, and then … the actual detection and disruption of the planning of attacks.”
Above all else, that intervention requires good intelligence, he said, asserting that such intelligence would ultimately benefit rather than restrict individual privacy.
“When we don’t have intelligence … we have to operate in a much more generalized and, dare I say, blunderbuss fashion,” he said.
” … That means we have to intercept and engage with more people, including more innocent people. … That’s why the better we hone our intelligence, the better we are in having a focused, less disruptive and less costly intervention to prevent an IED.”
Beyond intelligence gathering and sharing, he outlined several strategies still in the works to stop IEDs in this country, from closer regulation of small boats and planes to ensure terrorists cannot exploit them for bomb delivery, to exerting more control over commonly used radiological materials like Cesium-137, to prevent them from being used in so-called “dirty” or radioactive bombs.
“Sometimes I see that there’s a tendency to shy away from these kinds of issues because they’re hard,” Chertoff said, acknowledging that such proposals would be controversial. But “I’m going to try to make it my business to force us to look square … some of the most difficult issues.”
He emphasized the role of public vigilance, lauding the ambulance driver, for instance, who disrupted a plot to bomb London several months ago by alerting authorities to a smoking car.
“It’s not an accident or, frankly, a surprise that many of the plots … disrupted over the last few years have been disrupted because individual citizens noticed an anomaly … That is a force multiplier for protecting us against IEDs.”
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