Right in DC Podcasts Terrorism

Grant Haber: The Continuing Threat of IEDs and How to Deal With Them

My guest on RIGHT IN DC is Grant Haber, one of America’s foremost experts on IEDS (improvised explosive devices) and HME’s (homemade explosives). He has spent his life in the field creating detection innovations that help save the lives of American troops and foreign troops throughout the world fighting for freedom.

Haber has been involved with explosives detection, blast mitigation, and bomb containment technologies since 1998, and serving the law enforcement/ first responder community since 1995. His company, American Innovations, Inc., specializes in anti-terrorism solutions including detection of homemade explosives precursors and explosives detection. His training classes are used by military Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and non-EOD personnel, civilian bomb technicians, and police worldwide.

We discussed

  • Why IEDs are the enemy’s weapon of choice in their asymmetrical warfare against us
  • Why the threat of IEDs has not diminished but increased with 2018 being the highest year of IED fatalities since 2001 and IEDs being the
  • The fact that IEDs are the number one cause of US military, NATO and Afghanistan casualties
  • How the US can pull troops out of Afghanistan without creating a vacuum
  • How bureaucracy is undermining President Trump’s plan to remove troops as well as failing the US military and taxpayers
  • The $5.9 Trillion dollar question of what American taxpayers have paid for as the result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
  • How the formation of ISIS had its roots in the inability to combat IEDs
  • Why it is so important to proactively go after the chemicals, the bulk materials that IEDs are made from
  • IED detection solutions

MORE

http://americaninnovations.com/
845-371-3333

HOMEMADE EXPLOSIVES PRECURSORS, ATTACKING THE CORE OF THE IED THREAT A SIMPLIFIED AND EFFECTIVE CONOPS FOR DEFEATING IEDs
Nitrate Fertilisers and Potassium Chlorate are common Homemade Explosives (HME) Precursors, aka bomb making ingredients, that comprise the main charge in most Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) today. Targeting these bulk materials is required to defeat this proliferating threat and lessen the devastating casualties they inflict.

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RUSH TRANSCRIPT

Gayle Trotter
This is Gayle Trotter, host of Right in DC. Today our guest is Grant Haber. Grant is one of America’s foremost experts on IEDs, improvised explosive devices and HMEs, homemade explosives. Haber spends life in the field of antiterrorism and creating innovations that help save the lives of American troops and troops throughout the world fighting for freedom. Haber is the founder of American Innovations, which specializes in antiterrorism solutions, including detection of homemade explosives precursors and explosives detection. Haber’s innovations and training classes are used by military, non-EOD personnel, civilian bomb technician, and police worldwide.

Grant, thank you so much for joining us today.

Grant Haber
It’s a pleasure to be on your show today. Thank you.

GT
I will say a neat little detail, as that we are speaking with you, you are at Trump Hotel right now; is that correct?

GH
That is correct, Washington, DC.

GT
Give us a little background. You have this expertise in IEDs and HMEs. How did you come to have this expertise?

GH
I’ve been doing this now for more than 20 years, and it just kind of grows on you. You surround yourself with smart people and civilian bomb technicians and military EUD and government subject matter experts, you acquire a lot of knowledge.

GT
It does remind me of the famous movie, Hurt Locker, where the viewer was taken into the very difficult work of these technicians, who tried to disable these types of devices that caused tremendous amount of casualties and fatalities, as you say, not only to American troops, but also to the native people in these countries.

Can you tell us a little bit about how many people have been harmed by these devices?

GH
Thousands killed, tens of thousands wounded, and literally hundreds of thousands of traumatic brain injuries.

GT
How much does it cost to produce one of these very devastating devices?

GH
Could be as little as $50 to $100.

GT
Really? That is just astonishing. People who want to do harm to other people and they can do these grave injuries with only $50 to $100 worth of material resources; is that true?

GH
Yes. These bomb-making materials are low cost, readily available and very easy to convert into lethal weapons.

GT
This is not just something that has happened in the past. I think that for many years, what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan was at the top of every single newscast. It’s receded a little bit from the top of every news program, but we’re still seeing people being gravely injured by these devices overseas.

Can you tell us a little bit about recent news where these types of devices have injured people?

GH
Just last Monday, three marines were killed by IEDs in Afghanistan. The threat has not diminished. It has only increased exponentially. The problem we’re encountering is that when U.S. forces are not in the lead and not sustaining high casualties as they did back in 2009, ’10, ’11, and ’12, media is not reporting on it, but that doesn’t mean the threat has diminished by any stretch of any imagination.

GT
We are seeing more fatalities and injuries from IED bombings now than in the beginning of the entire conflict in Afghanistan in 2001; is that true?

GH
Yes. According to a recent United Nations report, 2018 was the highest year, quarter over-quarter of IED related fatalities since the start of the war in 2001.

GT
That’s just an astonishing fact and I think probably most Americans think that when our military personnel overseas are injured or dying, it’s from being shot by hostile forces, but are you saying that it’s more likely that they’re hurt or killed from these IEDs rather than other means of warfare? Bombs being dropped or shot or any other way of injuring people?

GH
IEDs are our enemies’ weapon of choice. It is a very powerful and low-cost and it’s killing us. It’s the number one cause of U.S. military casualties, NATO forces casualties, Afghan forces casualties, and with the latest surge, Afghan civilian casualties as well.

GT
We have seen that you’ve shared with us how cheap it is to make these very devastating devices. Is it less risk for the people who intend to do harm to Americans and others, our allies, is it less risky for them to use an IED than some of the more traditional ways of fighting?

GH
They couldn’t fight a conventional war against the United States or our allies, they would lose. They rely on asymmetric warfare that enables them to take these low-cost IEDs and inflict the most harm and strike at will. There is really no defense to these IEDs. Once you find the IED, for the most point at a security checkpoint, that’s the last thing the Army, or police officers, at that checkpoint will ever do or remember.

GT
That is just chilling, just thinking about that. That is such a stark way of saying that. Looking back at the history of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Trump campaigned saying that the Iraq war was a mistake and he wanted to limit our foreign entanglements. He is a clear advocate of our military and making sure that our men and women in the military are safe and not put into unnecessary battles or trying to be the world’s policeman.

We saw President Obama really take back our troops in Iraq, which many saw as a strategic error that President Obama was just doing it in order to do it, but not because it was strategically smart, or the way that he did it was smart, and certainly we saw that there was a vacuum that was created in Iraq that Iran was quick to fill and we saw ISIS come and be able to muscle in there and establish their caliphate.

How do you think that U.S. troops can withdraw from Afghanistan without creating a vacuum that will pull us back into conflict in this very hot and dangerous area of the world?

GH
You raised a lot of very good points there. Let me just back up and then I’ll answer this question a little directly. You mentioned Iraq and ISIS. In January of 2014, the deputy prime minister of Iraq and his chief of staff, who I was told was a four-star general as well as a PhD chemist, came to Washington, DC to meet with President Obama to plead for help, because they couldn’t stop the bombings in Afghanistan. ISIS was in their infancy stage and on the rise and they were using these low-cost IEDs to wreak all kinds of havoc.

During their visit to Washington, DC, I was asked to brief them. I came to DC and I briefed them. Not only did they verify what was killing everybody, but they made it very clear that if we didn’t enable them to get after this crisis, their country was doing to implode. This was January of ’14. It was May of ’14 when the Iraqi forces walked away from the billions of dollars in equipment and up-armored vehicles and you name it and turned it all over to ISIS. That was literally four months later, because we didn’t act upon this crisis and its root cause, and that root cause is IEDs made from homemade explosives.

Now what I’d like to shift forward is to your question with regard to withdrawal in Afghanistan. If we were to withdraw prematurely, given the current capacity strength of Afghan forces, they would implode in a very short period of time. The Afghan forces have no means, today, just like the Iraqi forces had no means back in early 2014, to be able to identify bomb-making precursor materials before they can be used to kill people as an IED.

GT
Yes. I think you have some suggestions for President Trump on how to rectify this situation; is that true?

GH
That is correct.

GT
Could you give us your thoughts?

GH
The president needs to have a very candid discussion on what is being used to make the IEDs, what the Afghan forces do not have, what the Afghan forces are requesting, and then have an understanding of where the bureaucracy is. There is bureaucracy that’s hindering progress and undermining President Trump’s progress with his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

GT
The IEDs are made up of these ingredients called potassium chlorate and ammonium nitrate, and you suggest allowing the Afghan forces to go after those ingredients and take away the ability of the Taliban and other extremists who make these very deadly IEDs that target the good guys in these places?

GH
Yes. Potassium chlorate, which is the number one homemade explosive precursor used in Afghanistan today and ammonium nitrate, are you used to make more than 90%of the IEDs. If we enable the Afghan forces to focus on those two materials, which are the leading bomb-making materials used today, not only will we choke off enemy supplies, but in the process of doing so, we will start to dismantle their bomb making or support networks through lawful arrests.

GT
Are these ingredients things that the local people of Afghanistan need in order to create agriculture that feeds their families and feeds their nation? Is that the hesitation of not targeting these ingredients, because they’re used for other purposes or why hasn’t this been done in the last 18 years?

GH
Two excellent questions. There are alternative fertilizers, for example, diammonium phosphate, which is one of the most widely distributed legal fertilizers that can never be used to make IEDs. That material, we need to allow to flow freely, whereas the ammonium nitrate, which is banned and illegal, as per a 2010 presidential decree in Afghanistan, those materials can legally be seized and the people possessing them can be arrested.

GT
Why is that not being done now, do you think?

GH
That right there lies the $5.9 trillion question, which is the amount of money the U.S. taxpayers have spent on both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

GT
That is an astonishing number. That is a big number. So what do you take from that?

GH
Bureaucracy is failing us on the backs of our all-volunteer military and it’s taxing U.S. taxpayers very hard, unnecessarily.

GT
I think you would have a sympathetic ear in President Trump. He certainly has made many comments against some of the defense contractors taking advantage of the largess of the federal government when he has talked about different contractors having these huge contracts to develop things and President Trump trying to renegotiate and get them to essentially promote their products or technology for a more reasonable price. That was something that we definitely heard him doing at the very beginning of the presidency. We had the Mueller report kind of overshadowing all of this. That’s the hot news in DC this week.

Do you think he’s backed off of that commitment or have other matters just overtaken his attention that were very significant and had to be dealt with, prioritized first? Do you think he’ll come back to trying to make sure that the technology companies and the defense contractors are making sure that they give the American government, and thereby the American military personnel, the very best quality at the best price that’s reasonable?

GH
We have become experts at talking about problems, yet, we’re handicapped at solving the problems, because our government has rewarded failures for way too long. President Trump is absolutely correct in his belief that we can accomplish more with less. There is no doubt in my mind, that we can start to turn the corner in Afghanistan if we simply focus on what’s killing everybody.

GT
Yes. I think when you’re saying that this is the particular aggravating device that is causing, not only the difficulties that we’re having there, but also grave cost to our military personnel and their families and their communities. It sounds like you’re saying it’s almost a simple fix to change this.

GH
I have documentation from U.S. forces, NATO forces, Afghan forces, members of United States Congress, you name it, senate testimony, it goes on and on and on. The threat is clearly defined. There is no ambiguity. We know what’s being used to make these IEDs and, yet, there is no requirement to go after these bulk materials proactively, before they can be used to harm anybody.

GT
That sounds like that’s something that would be an easy fix. How would they identify the material once they found it? Would it have to go for testing? I’m sure in a country like Afghanistan, there is a lot of stuff all over the place, and how do you quickly decide what is the targeted material versus other things that might look similar, but don’t have the same deadly capacity?

GH
Working with the Department of Defense, we developed a bulk material identification kit, a low-cost kit, that within ten seconds can detect and differentiate between the two most common bomb-making materials. We also utilize picture instructions to bridge literacy gaps.

GT
Is this something that you think the local forces would embrace or is this something else that Americans would be forcing them to do that they would be resentful of or would feel like wasn’t part of their strategy? Do you have a sense of how the local forces would take this type of intervention?

GH
Three Afghan Ministers of Interior have requested this program for the entire Afghan police forces spanning the last four fighting seasons. I have urgent need request in my possession from one of the ministers to the commanding general and from one of the deputy ministers to the organization that is in place, responsible for building and sustaining Afghan forces capacity.

GT
It sounds like you have identified the problem with the IEDs. You’ve talked about the history of it. You’ve shown us how it’s a much more significant problem now than it even was at the very beginning of the conflict and you have a solution for it. Do you have any other thoughts that you want to add before we sign off?

GH
Nope. I think you’ve done an excellent job. You’ve asked the right questions. I’m glad I was able to provide answers for all your questions and it’s just a matter of sitting down with our commander in chief so he can make an educated and informed decision. His commanders are not able to make educated and enforced decisions, because the information that is flowing up the chain of commands are biased and outdated.

GT
Thank you, Grant, so much for joining us. Where can people find you online if they want to learn more about the work that you’re doing or connect with you?

GH
We can be found at americaninnovations.com or they can call us at 845-371-3333.

GT
This is Gayle Trotter. You can like me on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter. You can follow me on Instagram. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can also subscribe to this podcast, Right in DC, on iTunes and you can leave a review. Most importantly, you can support this podcast on Patreon. We have great t-shirts as gifts for patrons, courtesy of Hard Hits Custom Apparel. We’d also like to thank Trio Caliente, a local DC group, for the music on the podcast. This is Right in DC.

About the author

Gayle Trotter

Gayle Trotter is a columnist, political analyst and attorney who regularly appears on TV, such as Fox News Channel, contributes to The Hill, The Daily Caller, Townhall and other well-known political websites, and is a frequent guest on radio shows across the country providing an insider’s view of Washington, DC. Read More