IED attacks on the rise: WCO Secretary General calls for vigilance

23 April 2013

The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to inflict violence against civilians has risen dramatically in recent years. According to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, established by the US Department of Defense, since 2007 the number of incidents, excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, has increased to more than 500 per month. Between January 2011 and September 2012, more than 10,000 global IED attacks were perpetrated in 112 countries by more than 40 regional and transnational groups. Many of those who survive IED attacks are unable to return to normal life because of their physical and mental injuries.

In the light of this growing threat, the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, calls upon Members to show vigilance in monitoring and detecting the cross-border movements of precursor chemicals and other explosive devices that may be used to manufacture these deadly weapons. “With the establishment of the Programme Global Shield (PGS) two years ago, we have put the threat of diversion of precursor chemicals and explosive triggers as a priority of the WCO and the global Customs agenda”, said Secretary General Mikuriya. Programme Global Shield (PGS) has several components, including capacity building through providing training to Customs authorities and other law enforcement agencies, awareness raising for government organizations and the private industry, and the Global Shield Operation. “Since Customs is the only agency that has a capability to monitor the cross-border movements of all goods, it has a prominent role to play in detecting this threat and in cooperation with other agencies, taking adequate measures”, he added.

The WCO continues an active engagement not only with government agencies, but also with the private sector, in order to raise awareness on precursors that can be used to build explosive devices, in the knowledge that a large number of these chemicals are in legitimate use in agriculture and other industries. At the Global Safety Summit and Technical Symposium, organized by the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) and hosted by SQM Mining Industry in Santiago, Chile, earlier this month, the delegates were surprised to learn that 5 out of 14 PGS chemicals were fertilizers and dual use explosives. This shows the importance of awareness raising and closer cooperation between Customs and the private sector which is one of the major objectives of Programme Global Shield.

More Information

Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization:

Programme Global Shield: