By Jim Kouri
The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, chaired by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), is holding a closed hearing entitled “Securing Ammonium Nitrate: Using Lessons Learned in Afghanistan to Protect the Homeland from IEDs” this morning.
The scheduled hearing is examining the intelligence gathering, information sharing and inter-agency coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on combating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the battlefield and their possible use within the U.S. homeland.
Committee members are hearing from several witnesses on ways to prevent attacks using IEDs, such as tracking the use of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient used by terrorist bomb-makers.
Because the House members and witnesses are discussing classified information at this hearing, the Subcommittee intends to move directly to close the hearing and transition to a secure hearing room in order to receive classified testimony.
“The IED is still one of the greatest threats to our troops in Afghanistan, and it remains a global threat. Just days ago, a blast went off in Mexico right before the Presidential elections. Earlier this year a potential attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted. [This] hearing will focus on the lessons learned from our wartime experiences to combat this global threat and to protect the Homeland,” said Chairman Lungren in a statement.
Terrorists are constantly changing their tactics to avoid detection and achieve successful operations and that includes the design of IEDs, said former NYPD bomb technician and training officer at the New York City Police Academy.
For example, counterterrorism officials have often warned American and foreign airlines that terrorists may be planning to surgically implant bombs inside the bodies of airline passengers. The threat brings new meaning to the term “suicide bomber” and “improvised explosive device,” one official told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
“Recent intelligence brought to light the possible terrorist scheme but no specific plot had been uncovered,” according to a Law Enforcement Examiner source.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox News Channel that a bomb implanted in airline passengers is something government security officials have been worried about for “a while.”
“This is a concern about human bombs,” King said. “We believe we’ve informed everyone.”
A U.S. security official told the Law Enforcement Examiner that a body bomb implanted is likely to come from overseas rather than domestically and that precautionary steps have been taken internationally and in the United States to be on guard for such terrorism suspects.