(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Bulletin: Use of Unsuspecting Civilians in IED Attacks


  • 1 page
  • For Official Use Only
  • December 26th, 2012


(U//FOUO) Terrorists and violent extremists could use unsuspecting civilians to transport improvised explosive devices (IEDs) artfully concealed in seemingly harmless items for use in attacks in the Homeland. Overseas attacks demonstrate that violent extremists have successfully used unsuspecting individuals to carry items containing IEDs to specific targets where the devices are then detonated remotely. This tactic enables terrorists and violent extremists to place IEDs in secure areas, among large gatherings of people, or at high profile events and detonate them from a standoff distance.

— (U//FOUO) On 3 August 2012. near the xci Air Base in Kenya, an alleged al-Shabaab operative gave an unsuspecting individual an IED concealed in a small transistor radio; the operative remotely detonated the device, killing the unsuspecting individual! and injuring six others.

— (U//FOUO) On 2 May 2010, a local pastor unwittingly carried a concealed IED to a police station in Guapi en Cauca, Colombia where it was remotely detonated.  This attack reportedly killed the unsuspecting pastor and injured 11 others.

(U//FOUO) Advantages of Using Unsuspecting Civilians

— (U) Little to no visible behavioral indicators—such as nervousness, excessive sweating, or constant eye movement
— (U) Facilitates standoff attacks for the perpetrator
— (U) Harder to trace the device back to the perpetrator
— (U) Post-blast investigation could generate false leads about the true attackers, which would provide more time for the perpetrators to evade detection and capture

(U//FOUO) Reducing the advantages

(U) Security and First Responder personnel can:

— (U//FOUO) Be alert for reports of suspicious activity involving strangers soliciting unusual services, or offering compensation that exceeds the value of the service
— (U//FOUO) Increase security screening procedures for events, including querying attendees about the ownership of items they carry
— (U//FOUO) Inform event participants and attendees to be wary of suspicious requests or offers from unfamiliar individuals to transport items into or near event locales

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