Skip to main content

Don't ignore the threat of IEDs

By Bob Morris, Special to CNN
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Fri April 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bob Morris: Pressure cooker bombs, like the one used in Boston marathon, are not new
  • Morris: IEDs are effective for those who want to inflict terror and violence on people
  • He says to date, the domestic and international threat of IEDS has been ignored
  • Morris: The U.S. and the global community must take meaningful action against IEDs

Editor's note: Bob Morris, a retired colonel, is the founder and president of the Global Campaign against IEDs.

(CNN) -- The bombings at the Boston Marathon have brought attention to "pressure cooker bombs."

Improvised explosive devices can be constructed using everyday items, and those made with pressure cookers have been around for 40 years. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued repeated warnings against IEDs made with pressure cookers.

IEDs have been used in numerous attacks in the United States, most notably the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; the May 2010 attack in Times Square; and failed attempts by the Underwear Bomber and the Shoe Bomber. Some experts view the aircraft used to strike the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 as the largest IEDs ever created.

Abroad, Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the July 2011 attack in Oslo, Norway, described the IED he detonated -- before killing 77 people at a youth camp -- as a "marketing tool" for his extremist views.

Bob Morris
Bob Morris
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



IEDs are a global threat and have become an effective weapon for those who advance their cause through terror and violence. For the past several years, excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, there are on average, three IED incidents each day. The Department of Defense's Joint IED Defeat Organization has an even higher estimate of 500 IED incidents per month, again excluding Afghanistan and Iraq .

Historically, IEDs have been used in a variety of situations, including conflict and post-conflict environments (Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Israel, Lebanon and Gaza and the West Bank); illegal drug operations (Mexico, Colombia and Peru); insurgencies (Chechnya, Russia, Nigeria and Northern Ireland); election-related violence (Kenya, Nigeria and Ivory Coast); religious crises (India, Pakistan and Nigeria); ethnic conflicts (Nigeria, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Serbia); and other notable acts of terror (France, Norway, Russia, United Kingdom and United States).

The Boston Marathon attack exemplifies what some parts of the world experience on a regular basis. According to our estimates, in the 10 days before the Boston Marathon, IEDs took the lives of more than 100 people in seven countries. And in the past 60 days, 64 people were killed in a Pakistani incident in February and 44 people were killed in a Nigerian incident in March.

The Boston attack also cast a spotlight on the severity of injuries that result from IED use. Thousands of U.S. service members, veterans and civilians around the world endure the consequences of these horrific injuries.

Expert: Cooker bomb easy to make

IEDs cause the top four injuries to veterans, including hearing loss, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. According to the Blinded Veterans Association, approximately 34% of those injured by IED blasts suffer dual sensory loss of vision and hearing in addition to the well-documented physical wounds such as loss of limbs and other permanent physical disabilities.

Treating these injuries is a challenge because the U.S. Department of Defense inadequately shares blast trauma research with the Veterans Administration and other organizations.

To date, the domestic and international threat of IEDS has been ignored. No nation has formally condemned the use of IEDs. While the United Nations annually issues a resolution condemning landmines, it has never issued a resolution condemning IEDs.

Members of the U.S. Congress have recently raised the alarm on this threat.

In May 2012, a bipartisan group of 92 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a unified U.S. strategy and international action against IEDs. So far, no adequate response from the administration has been received.

To fill this vacuum of inaction, I founded the Global Campaign Against IEDs in an effort to push for the reduction of IED use and the trafficking of IED precursor materials. Through a coalition of public, private and military efforts, we can reduce IED networks and prevent IED networks from forming.

A purely military approach has failed to stop IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq. The solution to this dilemma, proposed by the Global Campaign against IEDs, will be comprehensive, involving public, private and military partners.

Finally, the broader global community must come together and take meaningful action against IEDs and those who use them.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Morris.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 1:29 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT