Last week, I posted a blog – “The Growing IED Threat in the U.S. Today: An Executive Briefing for Business and Security Leaders” – on a rapidly emerging trend in corporate security planning today here in the United States. I’m referring to the need for a growing number of private and public organizations, industries and economic sectors to assess the extent to which improvised explosives devices represent a threat to people, facilities, assets, resources and operations. Please see my earlier blog to view a list of the types of businesses and facilities more likely than others to place IEDs – and vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) and person-borne IEDs (PBIEDs) – very high on their agenda.
Defining the Threat of IEDs
Current law enforcement analysts and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) IED experts have defined the IED threat continuum as a loosely affiliated but committed network of certain groups of people that are motivated by ideological, criminal and political reasons to use IEDs against their intended targets. This threat network can range from disenfranchised individuals to organized criminal and terrorist groups.
Today’s IED threat continuum raises specific concerns for federal and homeland law enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the rise of ISIS; al-Qaeda’s persistent fascination with bombing U.S. and European aircraft; terrorist recruits learning how to make IED and IIDs, in IIDs and other jihadist terrorist training camps; thousands of Westerners fighting on behalf of ISIS in Iraq and Syria; the cross-pollination of terrorists and criminal organizations; and the Mexican drug cartels’ abilities to successfully move drugs, weapons, people and illegal firecrackers every day across the porous U.S. border.
Figure: The IED Threat Continuum
Three Primary Types of Attackers
In the process of defining a risk – and prioritizing resources to address it – it is essential to start with a clear understanding of the threat. With respect to IEDs, think in terms of three principal types of attackers:
- Violent Extremist: A person who is engaged in, or is preparing to engage in ideologically-motivated terrorist activities (including providing support to terrorism) to further political or social objectives promoted by a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
- Homegrown Violent Extremist (HVE): A U.S. person who was once assimilated into, but who has rejected the cultural values, beliefs, and environment of the U.S. in favor of a violent extremist ideology. He or she is “U.S. radicalized,” and intends to commit terrorism inside the U.S. without direct support or direction from a foreign terrorist organization.
- Domestic Terrorist: Person who engages in unlawful acts of violence to intimidate civilian populations or attempt to influence domestic policy (as opposed to furthering the aims of a foreign terrorist organization) without direction from or influence by a foreign actor. Examples include acts by racist, supremacist, antigovernment, environmental, animal rights or other single-issue extremist groups or movements.
Using This Information to Improve Security
These profiles are dynamic. They’re continually under refinement as federal, state and local homeland security, fusion center and law enforcement experts gain new intelligence and information from terror-related trends and actual incidents such as those that occurred recently during the Boston Massacre, at Fort Hood and in San Bernardino.
Next week, I’ll share my next blog: “5 Steps Critical to Countering the Risk of IEDs: Recommendations for Business and Security Leaders.” Either check back with our blog at that time. Or sign up to receive our blogs on a regular basis.
 FBI InfraGard Training and interviews with federal law enforcement authorities.