On October 21, 2013, Waynesburg University students enrolled in instructor of criminal justice James Tanda’s terrorism class welcomed Edward Bender, a visiting guest speaker from the National Center for Explosives Training and Research in Huntsville, Ala.
More than 100 Waynesburg University students from classes including terrorism, criminal investigations, criminal justice, forensic science, criminalistics, criminal law, white collar crime, interview & interrogation and private security attended Bender’s instructional presentation involving crime scene investigation, laboratory analysis, evidence collection and case studies globally spanning the last 25 years.
“Waynesburg students could see that expertise come through with detailed and animated descriptions of Bender’s firsthand accounts of examining the World Trade Center truck bomb and the Oklahoma City federal building bombing,” said Tanda.
Tanda and Bender worked closely together for more than 22 years in the field on bomb scenes and in explosives investigative training environments. They continue to stay close to the explosives law enforcement community as they are both contracted subject matter experts at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research.
Bender earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College in 1979. His career in forensic chemistry began that same year in the Instrumental Analysis Section of the FBI Laboratory with an emphasis on explosives and trace evidence examination. He continued his career at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Laboratory in 1990, specializing in the chemical analysis of explosives, explosive effects and trace evidence. After 34 years of service to the Department of Justice as an expert in his field, Bender retired from ATF’s Washington National Laboratory in 2012.
Although Bender worked on hundreds of criminal investigations at the federal, state and international levels, some of his more notable investigations included the bombing of the Embassy and Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, the attempted assassination of president Ronald Reagan, the “Unibomber" serial bombing case, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1996 TWA Flight 800 investigations.
During his Waynesburg University presentation, Bender touched on many of these historic cases with first-hand accounts and details not found in history books.
Bender has 26 peer reviewed scientific publications including contributions to three books. He has taught numerous post-blast investigation courses and has given lectures in nearly every state in the country. He has also taught explosives investigations throughout the world including international law enforcement academies in Africa, Hungary and Thailand.
He currently teaches more than 20 classes a year for the homemade explosives course at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research as well as a pipe bomb analysis course at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Western Regional CPC in Chilliwack, British Colombia.
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