People here have no trouble finding everyday items like batteries, flour, wires, cooking equipment and barbeque firestarters.
But in the wrong hands, these seemingly innocuous items can be used to make bombs.
This is what participants of a workshop organised by the Certified Counter Terrorism Practitioner (CTTP) found out yesterday. Instructors shed light on the dangers of Home Made Explosives (HMEs), how to look out for them and showcased what goes into making such dangerous weapons.
The horrific attacks in Paris two years ago that killed 130 people used such improvised explosive devices.
A few months later in Brussels, chemical explosives were used to kill 32 victims.
As he gave The New Paper a look at examples of these household items, board director of CTTP Mr Yaniv Peretz said: “Every thing you see here can be bought from a store, there is nothing that was hard to get.
“That shows how dangerous the threat is, anyone could do it.”
At the workshop held at the Singapore Sports Hub, participants were also told about the importance of being alert to suspicious odours.
Instructor Michael D. Montoya, who has had more than 12 years’ experience mitigating explosives, said the biggest giveaway was the scent of chemicals.
He said: “For chemical production, a lot of the distinct smells are foul to our system. So if you just smell something that does not smell right, we have to ask what’s the problem.
“It could just be an animal that died in a ventilation system and it smells bad, or it could be something that we need to follow up on.”
Mr Montoya added that while terrorists and attackers can secretly be purchasing the ingredients for their HMEs, there is no way to mask the smell, so they should be investigated.
It would be a mistake to think that Singapore is spared from threats from HMEs, said Mr Peretz.
While attacks from groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been using knives and vehicular collisions to carry out their attacks, Mr Peretz said this does not diminish their danger as they have the potential to cause massive destruction in a localised area.
The danger of these HME production houses setting up here undetected is very real too, warned Mr Montoya.
“The reason, in my experience, why they can pop out of nowhere is because someone has gained the information and knowledge to slowly build it up over time, unnoticed,” he said.
“If I stay quiet, picking up things one at a time, maybe a wire today, a wire tomorrow, a battery the next day, I can build these things without anyone noticing, and that’s where the danger is.”