Operation Flashpoint: Authorities in Arizona demonstrate bombs made with common chemicals

Officials with the FBI and Homeland Security have a warning for people to be on the lookout for those who may be collecting materials to make homemade bombs.

While there are no specific threats at this time, the warning comes amid rising tensions across the country, as well as several big events that are set to take place in the coming weeks, from the Midterm elections to the 2023 Super Bowl and the annual WM Phoenix Open, both of which are held in the Phoenix area.

The power of explosives were on full display in Phoenix on Nov. 3 as part of Operation Flashpoint. It was a loud and clear message from law enforcement for people to say something if they see something.

"If you’re not reporting this type of information to us, it is really difficult for law enforcement to react," said Homeland Security bomb expert Chuck Leas.

The demonstration showed how powerful small, one-pound bombs can be.

"Terrorists would add fragmentation to these blasts to increase the [lethality of] any of the weapon, and do harm to the public," said FBI bomb technician Matthew Lightfoot.

During the event, law enforcement officials told the public what to look out for, especially people working in hardware stores, pool shops, and even hair salons. These are places that sell everyday chemicals, from bleach to baby oil, that could be combined to create chaos.

"They are truly the eyes and ears who know their product and other customers, and are in the best position to identify suspicious behavior and report it to law enforcement," said Andrew Seiffert with Homeland Security.

Law enforcement officials say outreach programs like this work. However, they did not cite specific examples successes. Rather, they recalled bombings from Boston to Oklahoma City that went undetected, and saying they would rather prevent a crime than solve one.

"The more the community knows about what to look for, how to keep an eye out for one another, that helps law enforcement to prevent these things from occurring," said Steve Martos with Phoenix Police.

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