Stewart Scott
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A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a Salvation Army distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., on the afternoon of May 24. Two Salvation Army employees discovered the explosive device, which was concealed inside a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight, as they were sorting through a box of donated items. The IED exploded when one of the employees picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on. The blast was not very powerful, and the two employees suffered only minor injuries.

This was the third incident in the Greater Phoenix area in recent weeks involving an IED concealed in a flashlight. Two explosive devices very similar to the May 24 IED exploded May 13 and May 14 in Glendale, Ariz., a city in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Both devices were abandoned in public places. In the May 13 incident, a woman discovered a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight next to a tree outside a Glendale business. When the woman picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on, it exploded, causing minor scratches and bruises to her face and hands. It also inflicted minor wounds to a woman beside her. The next day, a man found an identical flashlight in a ditch where he was working in another part of Glendale. He was lightly injured when the flashlight exploded as he attempted to turn it on.

So far, the explosive devices have failed to cause significant injury or death, but they do seem to indicate that there is a serial bombmaker operating in the Phoenix area. While it is not yet clear what the bombmaker's motives are, past cases of serial bombers suggest that the publicity he has received and the fear he has invoked will likely influence him to continue manufacturing explosive devices until he is captured. (Based on earlier cases involving serial bombers, it is also safe to assume that the culprit in the Phoenix area is a man.) The bombmaker's method of concealing his explosive devices may also change after gaining publicity for this wave of attacks. Finally, there is a chance that the destructive effect of the bombmaker's devices will increase as he becomes more proficient at building IEDs.

Serial Bombers

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Stewart Scott

Stewart Scott is a security analyst for Stratfor.