The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced a new pilot program called “Operation Flashpoint” to build awareness in communities across the U.S. about how to prevent bomb attacks.
At the pilot’s launch today at Revell Ace Hardware in Clinton, Miss., CISA and FBI officials highlighted the threat posed by domestic violent extremists and others who can build improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from common household items found at retail stores across the country. Approximately 250,000 businesses in the U.S. sell, use or distribute materials that can be used to build bombs.
IEDs pose a significant threat in the U.S. In 2020 alone, there were 2,061 total bomb threat, suspicious package and device-related incidents across the nation, according to CISA’s Office for Bombing Prevention TRIPwire report. Major bombings can cause mass casualty events and cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
The 90-day Operation Flashpoint pilot, which will include events in other cities including Columbia, S.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Orlando/Tampa, Fla., encourages businesses and the public to voluntarily report suspicious activities, such as buying large amounts of chemicals and materials (or a combination of these) that can be used to build bombs.
“Operation Flashpoint is a major milestone in implementing U.S. policy to thwart bomb threats,” said Dr. David Mussington, Executive Assistant Director for CISA’s Infrastructure Security Division. “It shows the strong unity in the federal government, between the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, to safeguard citizens and critical infrastructure.”
The pilot seeks to both reduce the threat of IED attacks by helping businesses to detect the illegitimate acquisition, theft, or diversion of dangerous chemicals, and by encouraging retailers to report suspicious activity by calling 1-855-TELL-FBI (1-855-835-5324).