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The Terrorism Threat

September 27, 2010

This is a bit more terrorism focused than I’m used to, but I found a couple of sections interesting (scratch that, I found all of it interesting, and a couple sections relevant). I found Assessing the Terrorism Threat from the HLSWatch.com blog, who posted on it last week.

The article gives a quick history of Al Qaeda style terrorism since 9/11, with a focus on new affiliations and new partnerships throughout the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Centarl and East Asia, and Africa. A good bit of the piece talks about the newly acknowledged phenomenon of radicalizing American citizens, and the dissemination of tactics through these parties to new recruits.

The first topic I wanted to bring up is in the section about future potential tactics. The second listed tactic was about “Fedayeen”-style attacks, similar to those perpetrated in Mumbai last year. While the security experts amongst my readers will probably cringe at my description, I consider these attacks as a few small groups of trained and heavily armed men cutting a path through a major city. The reason I think this is relevant is for the spectacle (which, frankly, is the point). If such a thing were to happen in the US, think of the media’s reaction. Hours of running and gunning, explosions, news choppers circling the battle zone — for HOURS on end. Is your executive ready to stand in front of a bank of cameras then?

The second relevant point is this:

However, even if America’s intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities are far better prepared to counter this new collection of adversaries, it still will not be enough. On Christmas Day 2009, it was not a federal air marshal, but the courageous actions of the passengers and flight crew aboard Northwest Flight 253 that helped disrupt the attack once it was underway. In Times Square, it was a sidewalk T-shirt vendor, not the New York Police Department patrolman sitting in a squad car directly across the street, who sounded the alarm about Faisal Shahzad’s explosive-laden SUV. It is reckless to leave the task of combating terrorism only to the professionals when the changing nature of the threat requires that ordinary Americans play a larger support role in detecting and preventing terrorist activities.

Is your organization doing that work? Are you preparing the general public (even your special populations) to be terrorism busters? I’m not a huge fan of see something, say something because it doesn’t teach the general public WHAT to look for (when looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s generally advisable NOT to increase the size of the haystack), but I’ve yet to see anyone in the States do it better, which is a shame, because every one of these reports anymore includes this specific section in the conclusion/future actions section. And yet, we continue to fail to prepare (and I think we all know the second half of that statement).

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