Suspicious packages-Part 2

As you might have guessed, covering the potential for bombings in houses of worship is an extensive subject. While I am trying to provide you with information on how to prevent a bombing, I am essentially just touching the tip of the iceberg in this blog. If you, or your church are interested in learning more, I strongly suggest that you hire a professional to provide an on-sight class.

Continuing from yesterdays blog, I wanted to continue by starting with delivered packages. Delivered packages could include a package, or multiple packages, being delivered to the church by the postal service, FedEx, or UPS. These devices can be just as deadly as the larger devices discussed yesterday. Signs that should raise concern that the package may be a potential IED include:

  • Excessive Postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Strange return address or no return address
  • Incorrect titles or title without a name
  • Not addressed to a specific person

These package may also be:

  • Marked with threatening language
  • Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address
  • Marked with exceptions, such as “Personal”, “Confidential”, or “Do Not X-Ray”
  • Heavy on one side of the package
  • May have a wire  imprint in the package
  • May have a stain similar to oil leaking

If a package seems suspicious there are several precautions that should be taken.

If you have the package in your hands, you should gently and carefully placed on a flat level surface such as a desk or chair. If it is already sitting on a table, chair, or the mailbox, leave it there! You should then evacuate making sure not to use any electrical devices until everyone is a safe distance away from the potential device. Do not pull the fire alarm, turn lights on (or off), or use a cell phone while still in the area of the package. It is best to use a hard phone line, if at all possible, because a cell phone could be at a frequency that detonates the device. However, if the package and the phone are both in the building, you should evacuate the building, go a safe distance away from the building, and use a cellphone.

In the first blog of the week, we discussed ways to tell that someone may be carrying carried explosive device based on the behavioral mannerisms.

In looking at someone that have these mannerisms, you should also be aware of ways to better identify potential explosives in soft packages. You should be smelling for strange smells as well as looking for bumps or outlines. Things that should raise a red flag include:

Smells to watch for:

  • Diesel fuel
  • Gasoline
  • Fertilizer
  • Oil type odor
  • Tar
  • Bitter almonds
  • No smell at all

Bumps or outlines associated with explosive

  • Pieces of pipe
  • Propane cylinders (especially small canisters)
  • Rectangular or square blocks
  • Dynamite taped together
  • Grenade shapes
  • Leaking oil, or oil type stains

There could be other shapes as well, but these are the most common. In most instances the carried device is going to be a suicide bomber. They may be wearing it in a backpack, a suicide vest (under their coat) , or some other method that is typically hidden. These types of devices tend to have a greater rate of killing people because it is hidden, and typically they are not detonated until it can do the most damage.

The exception to killing many people, is if the bomber is caught, confronted, or otherwise disrupted before reaching their target. When this happens, more often than not, they blow themselves up where they have been confronted.

As was mentioned in previous previous blogs this week, identification of explosive devices may be difficult. The bomber may keep one or both hand inside their pocket, or in the case of a backpack or bag bomb, they will be especially careful not to bump it, or they may keep a hand on the bag or backpack at all times. It may take a keen eye to identify wires that might be seen going from the backpack, or wires that go back into their clothes. These wires  are often hard to see, if they can be seen at all.

Typically, the reason they will keep their hand in their pocket (or the delivery device), is so they can keep their hand on the detonator at all times. Trained security or church personnel may be able to identify these individuals, and then isolate them from others.

Only those with specialized training should consider undertaking this task, and they should check with local law enforcement to identify where, and how, they can find this training in their area.

NEVER, under any circumstances should individuals who are not trained in explosives devices try to attack the bomber. The bomber may have what is known as a “dead-man” switch being held down by their thumb. If that pressure is released, the explosives will detonate. The act of attacking this individual may cause the explosive to detonate. Even physically detaining them (grabbing an arm or pushing them against a wall) could be lethal to all.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing a video that was unexpected while we were filming and the police department was using it as a training. The video I share should make you laugh, because it made us laugh! I will resume talking about bombs and bombings on Monday. May the Lord keep you safe until then, … Mark