A powerful bomb explosion at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center in the desert north of Los Angeles was observed by dozens of state, local,and federal investigators. It was part of a five-day FBI training seminar that is presented several times each year across the country and includes the detonation of a thousand-pound truck bomb. The program helps investigators better understand the awesome power of such devices and, says agent Kevin Miles, it teaches them how to piece together a device after an enormous blast and reveal a bombmaker’s unique signature.
The Large Vehicle Bomb Post-Blast School is one of more than half a dozen ways big-city police departments and federal investigators keep up to date with the latest in terrorist technology. Bomb squad investigators in New York City build bombs that their colleagues must defuse. An FBI database, with help from the Pentagon and the CIA, tracks emerging bomb technologies and trends from Iraq and Israel to Europe and South America. The federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will use a sophisticated computer program that can use data like the size of a bomb crater and the distance that debris was propelled by a blast to help solve bombings.