CLINTON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced a new initiative aimed at preventing bomb attacks.
The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched “Operation Flashpoint” Wednesday at the Revell Ace Hardware store in Clinton. The operation is a bomb prevention awareness campaign. The 90-day pilot program encourages people to report suspicious activities, like buying large amounts or a combination of materials that could be used to make a bomb.
”Last Christmas, there was the bombing in downtown Nashville. Three people injured, the perpetrator killed and damaged a critical infrastructure segment. What was known by those in the trade, but not known by the general public was the predictable knock-on effect,” explained Dr. David Mussington, the executive assistant director for infrastructure security for DHS.
Many household items that can be bought at hardware stores could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. Now, officials are partnering with stores that sell those products to help them spot suspicious activities. Revell Ace Hardware managers said although they have not dealt with any suspicious purchases, the campaign is still necessary.
Chris Purnell, a manager at Clinton Revell Ace Hardware, said, “Going through this program is really gonna help us become aware of the things that are possibilities of that. Just help us keep our eyes open.”
Officials said there is no immediate bomb suspicions in Mississippi at this time, and they need the public’s help to keep it that way.
“Businesses can help. They can recognize hazardous materials in their product inventory, sort chemicals into risk categories based on their potential for illegal use, and report suspicious and unusual purchases to management and authorities,” stated Cheryl Louck, chief of chemical security of the CISA.
“Operation Flashpoint” includes stops in South Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida. Officials hope to expand the campaign to more states.