Artisanal or Home-made Landmines

The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is a US Department of Defense program designed to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) faced by US and allied soldiers, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan (JIEDDO).  More US soldiers were killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan by IEDs than by bullets and this fact led to the creation of JIEDDO and the Obama Administration’s policy on Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (White House).

JIEDDO describes the threat from IEDs as “the weapon of choice” of terrorists, saying:

Improvised explosive devices – known worldwide as IEDs – are the weapon of choice of terrorists because they require limited skills to build and provide dramatic results for very little investment of time, money and effort. The public relations benefit of a surprising spectacular explosion far outweighs attacks using more conventional weapons. Because of this, the IED has become the weapon of choice…

While not a 21st century weapon, the IED became the insurgent weapon of choice during the war in Iraq. Even though the use of IEDs in Iraq has steadily declined since the summer of 2007, they continue to have devastating effect on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

IEDs will continue to be a threat throughout the world – they will never go away. They will grow in sophistication and frequency as more enemies of peace realize the potential psychological, social and political impact a weapon like this provides. There is no other widely available terror weapon that provides the mass media focus, sheer panic and strategic influence than the IED.

IEDs generally come in two forms: remote-controlled and victim-activated, or in JIEDDO’s terminology “Victim Operated Improvised Explosive Devices” (JIEDDO).  Victim-activated IEDs, specifically those targeting individuals and not vehicles, fall under the definition of anti-personnel landmines and are banned by the Mine Ban Treaty.  JIEDDO has compiled, from its research in Afghanistan, a “recognition guide” for victim-activated IEDs.  This guide is useful beyond Afghanistan as we have reported on this site the use of artisanal landmines (my fancy name for victim-activated IEDs) in Tunisia, Mali, Somalia and Libya and I would suspect that the tools, triggers, components and effects are similar between Afghanistan and other countries.

Michael P. Moore

August 5, 2014

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org


3 Comments on “Artisanal or Home-made Landmines”

  1. maria miklas says:

    Is there an organization to remove landmines near a school in Angola?

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