Armen Keteyian / CBS Evening News – 2008-12-09 18:11:39
CBS News Exclusive: ATF Figures Show Juveniles Account For More Than Half Of Nation’s Explosive Incidents
Armen Keteyian / CBS Evening News
• Explore the ATF US Bomb Data Center Statistics here.
ATLANTA, (December 9, 2008) — New information about domestic bombings. The federal government released the latest data showing there were at least 2,700 reported incidents involving bombs and explosive devices in the United States last year. But as CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian details in an exclusive report, that sheer number is not the biggest concern. It’s who’s behind the majority of the bombings.
It looks like footage from a war zone. But instead, it’s homemade bombs built and detonated at home in the United States.
All of the criminal acts shown in CBS News video have one thing in common – they are tied to an alarming trend that CBS News has learned involves the most unlikely culprits: Kids under the age of 18.
“Six out of 10 of these explosive incidents involve juveniles,” said Scott Sweetow, the assistant special agent in charge of Atlanta’s field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Atlanta.
“It’s shocking and, in fact, it’s not well known,” Sweetow said. “And, it’s not something that’s going to go away.”
The latest figures, gathered by the ATF and obtained exclusively by CBS News reveal that between 2004 and 2007 juveniles accounted for well more than half of all reported traceable explosive incidents – far exceeding gangs and hate groups combined.
In fact, this year alone, news reports cite at least 106 arrests nationwide of teenage boys – some as young as 13 years old – for either manufacturing bombs or plotting to se them off.
# In Arizona, eight students were hospitalized after a teen detonated a bomb at his school.
# In North Carolina, a 13-year-old boy made a bomb that burned the face of a 7-year-old girl.
# In Kansas, a teen bombing destroyed part of an apartment building.
For years, Robby Moser and his best friend, Dan, liked to blow things up, moving from firecrackers to bombs. The thrill always seemed to outweigh the risk.
“We pretty much did it for the fun,” he said. “We kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Last January, they set off a massive pipe bomb. The echoing blast rocked their Ohio town.
When the dust settled, Dan was dead – his face blown off in an instant.
“It was awful,” Moser said.
As it turns out, the key components of high-powered bombs are readily available at your local hardware store, with no federal law preventing minors from buying most of the ingredients. What’s more, detailed instructions on how to create military-style explosives are all over the Internet.
“These are the types of explosives that foreign criminal groups or foreign terrorist groups might use,” Sweetow said.
“We’re not talking about cherry bombs, we’re talking about things that blow up and kill people?” Keteyian asked.
“Yes,” Sweetow said.
Outside Atlanta recently, CBS News got a rare look at the cutting-edge training the ATF provides state and local law-enforcement officials. Real explosives, set off in real time, allowing investigators to sift through, and learn, from the wreckage that’s left behind.
“The genie is out of the bottle and this is going to be a real tough problem to deal with,” Sweetow said.
It’s a frightening new generation of teens already moving from backyards to schoolyards, from vacant lots to crowded malls, armed and ticking.
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