In an effort to increase awareness and provide education on how businesses and the public can prevent bombings in their communities, Operation Flashpoint held an educational kickoff event at Earlham Bulding Center in Earlham, Iowa.
Leaders with the Madison County Emergency Management and Homeland Security office partnered with representatives from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the FBI for the local kickoff of Operation Flashpoint. The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP), part of CISA, offers resources for retail store owners to build awareness of domestic terrorism and ways to prevent it through Operation Flashpoint.
The state of Iowa has experienced significant threats from potential bombing situations this year. In June 2022, law enforcement apprehended a bomb suspect who had planted incendiary devices in multiple locations at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Madison County has participated in CISA’s Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Community Liaison Program since February 2022.
“Business owners, our residents and visitors, are the eyes and ears in our community,” says Madison County Emergency Management and Homeland Security director Diogenes Ayala. “By learning how to spot suspicious behavior or a stockpile of these kinds of chemicals, they can potentially help law enforcement stop an attack before it happens.”
The goals of Operation Flashpoint include providing early detection of the sale of bomb-making materials by individuals engaging in suspicious behaviors and building a network of stakeholders who are willing to say something if they see something suspicious.
Through in-person outreach and CISA’s Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program (BMAP), businesses can receive free guidance, educational videos and training resources that are common sense, simple to implement and have minimal impact on operations.
CISA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been hosting awareness events across the nation since June 2021, when they hosted a pilot launch event at Revell Ace Hardware in Clinton, Mississippi. They also hosted a campaign awareness event at Josephs’ Hardware in Fort Collins, Colorado, in August.