CISA and FBI Launch Operation Flashpoint to Raise Awareness about How to Prevent Bomb Making

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced a new pilot program called “Operation Flashpoint” to build awareness in communities across the U.S. about how to prevent bomb attacks.
At the pilot’s launch today at Revell Ace Hardware in Clinton, Miss., CISA and FBI officials highlighted the threat posed by domestic violent extremists and others who can build improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from common household items found at retail stores across the country. Approximately 250,000 businesses in the U.S. sell, use or distribute materials that can be used to build bombs.
IEDs pose a significant threat in the U.S. In 2020 alone, there were 2,061 total bomb threat, suspicious package and device-related incidents across the nation, according to CISA’s Office for Bombing Prevention TRIPwire report. Major bombings can cause mass casualty events and cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
The 90-day Operation Flashpoint pilot, which will include events in other cities including Columbia, S.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Orlando/Tampa, Fla., encourages businesses and the public to voluntarily report suspicious activities, such as buying large amounts of chemicals and materials (or a combination of these) that can be used to build bombs.
“Operation Flashpoint is a major milestone in implementing U.S. policy to thwart bomb threats,” said Dr. David Mussington, Executive Assistant Director for CISA’s Infrastructure Security Division. “It shows the strong unity in the federal government, between the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, to safeguard citizens and critical infrastructure.”

DHS S&T Announces $36.5M Funding Opportunity for New Center of Excellence

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced a $36.5 million funding opportunity for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE), Engineering Secure Environments from Targeted Attacks (ESE).
“Partnering with universities, S&T delivers practical results by developing multidisciplinary, customer-driven solutions while training the next generation of homeland security experts,” said William Bryan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The challenges we face as a nation are complex. In collaboration with our academic partners, DHS is excited to launch a new COE focused on mitigating long-term threats against our nation’s surface transportation and built environments with novel engineering solutions.”
DHS plans to fund the new COE through a cooperative agreement for 10 years for a total of approximately $36.5 million.
The ESE COE will research and develop solutions to support DHS counterterrorism and violent extremism operations. The COE will help DHS continue fostering a culture of “security by design” by providing intentional and flexible architecture solutions to thwart an adaptive adversary. ESE will also advance a skilled workforce of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who focus on homeland security-related issues.
Technological advancements and their applications are increasingly complex and integrated into everyday processes. As cities grow larger and density increases across people, buildings, and infrastructure, a potential increase in the frequency or severity of targeted attacks from foreign and domestic terrorism is a legitimate concern. ESE will provide academic-led innovation that supports safer, more resilient transportation systems and communities.
DHS is soliciting proposals from multidisciplinary research and education teams, that will work closely with DHS and other subject-matter experts to develop approaches to strengthen the security of crowded spaces and transportation modalities. The teams will need various combinations of academic disciplines, including engineering, data analytics, and mathematics.
The DHS COEs work closely with DHS operating components to research, develop, and transition mission-relevant science and technology, and educate the next generation of homeland security technical experts. ESE will be required to engage with DHS operational components and fully understand the operational environment to help better identify technical and training gaps. Each DHS COE is led by a U.S. college or university and partners with other federally funded research and development centers, academic institutions, the commercial industry, and other federal, state, and local agencies.