A laser mediated methodology for remote thermal excitation of analytes followed by standoff IR detection is proposed. The goal of this study was to determine the feasibility of using laser induced thermal emission (LITE) from vibrationally excited explosives residues deposited on surfaces to detect explosives remotely. Telescope based FT-IR spectral measurements were carried out to examine substrates containing trace amounts of threat compounds used in explosive devices. The highly energetic materials (HEM) used were PETN, TATP, RDX, TNT, DNT and ammonium nitrate with concentrations from 5 to 200 μg/cm2. Target substrates of various thicknesses were remotely heated using a high power CO2 laser, and their mid-infrared (MIR) thermally stimulated emission spectra were recorded. The telescope was configured from reflective optical elements in order to minimize emission losses in the MIR frequencies and to provide optimum overall performance. Spectral replicas were acquired at a distance of 4 m with an FT-IR interferometer at 4 cm- 1 resolution and 10 scans. Laser power was varied from 4-36 W at radiation exposure times of 10, 20, 30 and 60 s. CO2 laser powers were adjusted to improve the detection and identification of the HEM samples. The advantages of increasing the thermal emission were easily observed in the results. Signal intensities were proportional to the thickness of the coated surface (a function of the surface concentration), as well as the laser power and laser exposure time. For samples of RDX and PETN, varying the power and time of induction of the laser, the calculated low limit of detections were 2 and 1 μg/cm2, respectively.