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Homeland Security

IED Attack Fact Sheet: Improvised Explosive Devices

An improvised explosive device (IED) attack is the use of a "homemade" bomb and/or destructive device to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers, and insurgents. Because they are improvised, IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small pipe bomb to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage and loss of life. IEDs can be carried or delivered in a vehicle; carried, placed, or thrown by a person; delivered in a package; or concealed on the roadside. The term IED came into common usage during the Iraq War that began in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and The National Academies teamed up in 2003 to produce fact sheets on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks designed to help better prepare the media for the types of threats facing the nation.

Each fact sheet provides clear, concise information to the media and the public on the characteristics, dangers, and consequences associated with various types of attacks. Each fact sheet has been through a rigorous peer review process evaluated by independent members of the National Academies, many of whom are recognized as the nation's foremost experts in their field.

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Last Update Date: 
Wed, 07/08/2015
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