12 November 2012
Bombing Forensics Forensics has become a critical piece of not only our justice system, but as well as being utilized by our American Armed Forces. Every day we hear about soldier being killed by roadside bombs commonly known as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They have been the number one threat not only to our soldiers fighting in foreign wars in our history, but more presently and more widely known are events like the World Trade Center attacks on 11 September, 2001. Although we have seen the massive amounts of damage these devices have caused, it is less likely known that the troops have utilized the evidence that is found at each of these sites to bring those accountable for the bombings to some type of justice system. The goal and intention of this paper is to not only gain an understanding of what these devices are but how we have implemented forensics into determining who is creating them. To first understand how forensics goes into prosecuting a suspect of a bombing, we must determine what is classified as an Improvised Explosive Device. Now, we all know what an explosive is and can do in the basic sense. The problem is that the general public seems to have a vague grasp of knowledge in what the term Improvised Explosive Device applies to. IEDs are homemade devices that are designed to cause death or injury by using explosives alone or in a combination with toxic chemicals, biological toxins or radiological materials (Department of Homeland Security, 2012). Simply put, it is any device that utilizes an explosive means as a form of attack. Now, even the attacks on the World Trade Centers can be classified as IEDs due to the way the plains were used. Those two planes that flew into the Trade Center buildings carried fuel which would essentially cause a massive explosion when the plane hit the buildings. Another instance that most of American can recall is the Oklahoma City bombing. It comprised of a truck carry a chemical mixture that was rigged to explode and destroy not only the building but also to kill those inside it. These two instances are just two pieces of history where these devices have been used. There have been many instances throughout history where these Improvised Explosive Devices have been utilized beyond the two I have already mentioned. In October 1983, a truck filled with compressed gas cylinders along with 2000 pounds of explosives was driven into the headquarters building of U.S. Marines killing 241 military and civilian personnel (Dugdale-Pointon, 2003). This bombing was not only successful because of the damage it caused but also because the U.S. redesigned its policy on how it dealt with the region this took place. Another mark in history where these devices took place was in December 1988. A Pan Am flight that was of the city of Lockerbie was carry someone that had the intent of detonating a small block of Semtex which about the size of a stick of butter which essentially broke open the plane during flight. This event caused the deaths of 270 people (Dugdale-Pointon, 2003). Given that every instance that has been mentioned so far is world news, most people do not realize that most of these devices are actually on more a smaller scale. These smaller scale explosive devices are in vast quantities during wars. Since the time of explosive being created, people have been utilizing in any means necessary. It has only been in the most recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan that the general public has begun to see them and their effects. Knowing that these devices have played major roles in our history, we must look into what they are other than just a means to create harm and destruction. The basis for creating an Improvised Explosive Device is simply picking out a target, gather the amount of explosives needed to eliminate that target and develop the device out of what equipment you have available.