” In the aftermath of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration raised the specter of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Indeed, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the case for toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime by ominously stating, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
Yet, the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon is a tragic reminder that the more likely terrorist threat has been (and will continue to be) old-fashioned explosives — otherwise known as improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
And unlike WMDs, IEDs are relatively cheap and easy. McVeigh’s truck bomb is estimated to have cost him $5,000 for the truck and all the materials. Backpack IEDs probably cost a few hundred dollars, if that. None of the component parts needed to build an IED are illegal (the Boston backpack bombs are believed to have been built using pressure cookers as the containers, black powder or gunpowder as the explosive charges, and nails, BBs, and ball bearings as shrapnel). And the know-how to build IEDs is pervasive.
So what should we do now that threat has come to roost at home?”