THE MAGAZINE

Left of the Boom

By Matthew Harwood

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, who authored the law that created the ANSP five years ago, laments the fact that Congress appears to be trying to thrwart implementation by not funding the ageny’s rulemaking effort. “I understand rulemaking is a time-consuming process, but if Congress denies DHS the resources it needs to issue a final rule, I don’t see how the program gets over the finish line,” Thompson said in a statement. IP, the office responsible for writing the ANSP final rule, is facing a $70 million budget cut from 2012’s enacted level of nearly $300 million, minority committee spokesman Adam Comis said. DHS did not reply to questions about when the final rule would be published.

When it does finally go into effect, the ANSP won’t be a silver bullet. In Norway, Breivik simply created fake agricultural and mining companies to provide cover for stockpiling fertilizer.

Private sector. Still, government and industry have to do what they can to raise the bar. And industry is not leaving it entirely to government. For example, Yara, individually as well as through trade associations—such as Fertilizers Europe, The Fertilizer Institute, and the International Fertilizer Industry Association—has taken steps to increase the safety and security of the ammonium nitrate global supply chain and the product itself, says Pescio. The company also works with the relevant authorities worldwide, including JIEDDO. “Yara and most of the fertilizer industry [have] enhanced the product qualities to make such misuse more difficult,” he says. And Yara is conducting independent research to seek ways to further mitigate the risks of misuse.

Through the FBI’s Operation Tripwire program, the private sector also works with government to report suspicious transactions that might be related to attempts to buy components for IEDs. (For more on Tripwire, see “Tripping Up Terrorists,” Homeland Security Department, January 2012.)

Export controls.
American-made electronics have been found in IEDs overseas. “Some of these components have been routed to Iran and subsequently turned up in IEDs in Iraq,” said Dean Boyd, spokesman for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

In an effort to make that less likely to happen, another part of the U.S. government’s layered strategy is to beef up enforcement of U.S. export controls. Last October, for example, four business people were arrested in Singapore for violating U.S. export controls. They were charged with sending 6,000 radio frequency modules from a Minnesota company to Iran after filing false documents with the U.S. government declaring that the final destination of the goods was Singapore. Some of the modules were later found in unexploded IEDs in Iraq.

The modules, which have the legitimate purpose of being used in wireless local area networks to connect computers and printers, can also be used to remotely detonate IEDs. That dual-use illustrates the challenge for authorities trying to make IED components hard to come by, says Jason I. Poblete of Poblete Tamargo LLP, who specializes in export law. “There is no such thing as an IED manufacturer that you could put out of business,” says Rowan. Anyone can buy the components off the shelf.

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