As Boston prepares for the 4th of July celebration, an event initially targeted by the alleged Marathon bombers, law enforcement officials are giving renewed attention to explosives training.
FOX Undercover was given an inside look at bomb school, an explosives class taught by a retired FBI bomb expert that is becoming increasingly in demand.
"These people are good. These people are really good these days who are our enemies in building these bombs," retired FBI Special Agent Kevin Miles told his students at one recent class. "They can look like anything in the imagination of the bomber or the bomb builder."
Miles was teaching a group of law enforcement officials and first responders from western Massachusetts who gathered at the Longmeadow police department to hear him talk. Miles retired earlier this year from the FBI and joined Troy Asymmetric Training of West Springfield, creating a curriculum that includes courses on everything from vulnerability assessment to post-blast crime scene response.
"Anything you think that might be an explosive, you treat it with respect. Because it will kill you," Miles told the class. "If you get called to an explosive incident, do not necessarily assume it's the only one. Because the bombers, the bomber is waiting because he wants to kill more people. And if he wants to kill you he's going to wait until you get there."
"Are the Boston bombings having an impact on your business?" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked him.
"It is because we're in Massachusetts and we're 90 minutes away from Boston. People want more information. More training," Miles replied.
Longmeadow police Captain John Stankiewicz believes training like this is important.
"What we are seeing now is that a lot of your homegrown terrorists live in suburban areas. And being from a suburban community, we want to have our officers have the most knowledge," he said.
Miles believes the Marathon bombers had a fairly high level of sophistication when they detonated two bombs made of pressure cookers packed with metal.
"They did their research. And those devices functioned. They functioned as designed. So that tells me they knew what they were doing," he said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's federal indictment released today says he downloaded an Al Qaeda-linked magazine that had instructions on how to build the bombs he and his brother are charged with detonating.
FOX Undercover couldn't record the entire bomb class because some of the information is too sensitive. For example, Miles showed how he was able to buy with $140 the materials he needed to build his own bomb – all bought without raising a red flag in the stores.
"I walked into several stores in this area and walked out with pretty much everything I needed to make an explosive device," he said.
"No questions asked?" Beaudet asked.
"No questions asked. Nobody said a word," he said.
"Were you surprised?" Beaudet asked.
"I was. I was," he said. "We're just not there yet as a nation. Like others are, like the UK or Israel. I doubt very much if that would be able to occur in either one of those nations."
"Can people like this be stopped?" Beaudet asked.
"That's tough. In a free country it's very difficult. If a person wants to build an (improvised explosive device) and can get the items in which to do it, it's very difficult to stop them," Miles replied.
Authorities say they have no intelligence indicating there is any threat to the July 4th festivities on the Esplanade, but are beefing up security nevertheless at the first big public event since the Boston Marathon.
"Some of these enhancements the public will see and some of them you won't see. They involve more police presence, higher visibility, undercover presences, video surveillance enhancement," said State Police Col. Timothy Alben.
Miles says a lack of money to pay for training is a real problem now. He said it's only a matter of time before there's another incident.
"I don't know when. I don't know where. But bombs are a major tool for terrorist groups worldwide. And it's liable to happen again, unfortunately," he said.
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FOX Undercover with an inside look at 'bomb school'
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