What makes a terrorist attack successful and why can’t the majority of cases be prevented? Terrorist groups are characterized by a strong bond between members of each operating cell and complete dedication to their goal. They have financial backing, equipment and personnel with the required skills to complete their act, and they take their time in pre-operational preparation: This includes finding those members willing to die for their extremist cause. In many cases it has been reported that terrorists work on their plan of attack for more than 10 years. Remember – They are determined to succeed!
After many years of studying terrorist attacks we see that most groups use the following 5 steps:
- The leader of the organization will choose the target (which can be person involved in politics, religion, showbiz, businessman or a person they may want to revenge for personal reasons).
- Pre-operational intelligence and surveillance (reconnaissance) – This is often achieved by using different people (to avoid detection) to gather information about their target such as daily routines, the types of security used (personnel, physical, technology), where any security weaknesses exist, the location of potential ambush sites (usually identified as places where they can hit the target and then escape easily) and any other information that can be useful for them to carry out their act).
- Based upon pre-operational intelligence and planning they will design the strategy, how they will act, which person they will use, what kind of weaponry etc.
- Testing of the plan to see if there are any weak points that will prompt a change to the attack strategy.
- Execution of the final attack and escape.
It is very difficult for us to indentify and stop terrorists, they have been working in the shadows for many years and unfortunately they will continue to do so. Terrorists feed on the power they feel and the fear and chaos they bring to others.As protective security specialists, it is our duty and responsibility to make their work difficult. This can be achieved by operating outside of identifiable routines (don’t take the same route at the same time, every day for example), by gathering, interpreting and properly disseminating protective intelligence information, and by conducting anti- and counter-surveillance that will expose them during the pre-operational planning phase of their attack. Every person, man, woman or child can be targeted in terrorist’s attacks, directly or indirectly and for any number of reasons. Remember: it is not only your principal or your team who are in danger but also many other unknowing citizens.
Deni Zinxhiria, CPSS Founder, Athena Academy(TM)