Operation Flashpoint: FBI, Homeland Security ask local businesses to help spot suspicious activity

·2 min read

Federal agencies are turning to Central Florida businesses to help prevent bomb attacks.

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The initiative is a part of a new program they’re calling “Operation Flashpoint.” It’s a joint effort between the FBI and Department of Homeland Security aimed at teaching businesses in Central Florida how to spot suspicious purchases for homemade bombs.

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“They could potentially help law enforcement stop an attack before it happens,” Orange County Undersheriff Mark Canty said.

Bombs can potentially be made with common household items like bleach or even nail polish removers, which can be found in nearly any type of store.

According to the FBI, approximately 250,000 stores across the country sell materials that can be used to make explosives.

“Hardware, pool supply, gun stores, sporting goods stores, fireworks stores,” Section Chief at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Charles Leas said.

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35 explosive-related incidents were reported in Florida last year. According to CISA data, there were 381 such incidents nationwide.

“Bomb threats are a serious threat to local communities across the United States,” CISA Executive Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Dr. David Mussington said.

A key element to fighting domestic terrorism, Leas says, is raising public awareness and reminding the community that if you see something suspicious, say something.

“Building a vigilant network of eyes and ears around the country,” Leas said. “We are trying to make the community safer, but in the end, we can only make it safe if you help us.”

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The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department are also participating in the campaign.

“Anytime we can partner with other law enforcement agencies, the community is much, much safer,” Canty said.

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