Internet serves as double-edge sword for authorities

Internet serves as double-edge sword for authorities (Image 1)

Now-a-days, computers can be used for a multitude of things.  Unfortunately that is also true for those who plan to do harm.

For instance, people who create homemade explosives often do so with the help of the Internet.  However, it's also the same tool which allows law enforcement to put would-be bombers behind bars.  

Jonathan Wooten, 18, is charged with possessing explosives and violating his probation.  The La Vergne teen was arrested for setting-off an explosive device in a local neighborhood Wednesday.  

A spokesperson for the City of La Vergne, said Wooten learned how to make the device by watching a clip on Youtube.  

Sgt. David Durham of the La Vergne police said Wooten may have created and detonated the homemade explosive simply out of curiosity.  

With the advancement of the Internet, Sgt. Durham said making these potentially lethal devices have become much easier.   

“It doesn't take a chemist to make a bomb anymore, especially with the information that is out there on the web,” said Sgt. Durham.

In addition to the countless and disturbing how-to videos online, there are also plenty of Web sites where you can purchase the equipment needed to make the destructive and inexpensive devices.  The cost?  Just under $20.

“Here in the City of La Vergne, we have had them, cases here and there. It's sporadic,” said Sgt. Durham.

According to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal agency primarily responsible for investigating and preventing the unlawful use of destructive devices and explosives, “approximately 98% of all bombings in the United States are non-terrorist related.”  
With that said, law enforcement agencies throughout the country are training their detectives in cyber media more than ever before.  

The ATF also has what they call a Frontline Business Model which includes: Certified explosive specialists, explosive canine handlers, and an ATF Laboratory to help police the crime. Another tool in the belt for authorities, communication among agencies.

“We share information and share knowledge so we can all work together for the common goal of stopping that behavior,” said Sgt. Durham.

Authorities add the computer can be a bit of a double edged sword.  Meaning, it may give would-be bombers the tools to develop these homemade explosives, but it also give law enforcement the tools needed to help convict them.  

“There's always what we call an electronic finger print… there's a trail and we will follow it and we will prosecute those who are guilty,” said Sgt. Durham.

Experts say so far the easy availability of bomb making formulas does not appear to have increased the frequency of attacks, but they worry it may be making the successful ones much more harmful.

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