Archive for the ‘How To Stop Terrorists’ Category

2006 (html format)

Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 (html format)

U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 — Strategic Assessment
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: Africa Overview
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific Overview
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: Europe and Eurasia Overview
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: Middle East and North Africa Overview
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
Chapter 2 — Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview
Chapter 3 — State Sponsors of Terrorism Overview
Chapter 4 — The Global Challenge of WMD Terrorism
Chapter 5 — Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report)
Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations
Chapter 7 — Legislative Requirements and Key Terms
National Counterterrorism Center: Annex of Statistical Information
International Conventions and Protocols on Terrorism

How to Recognize and Fight a Terrorist on a Plane

Posted 01/05/2010 ET
Updated 01/05/2010 ET
The attempted bombing of Delta/Northwest 253 on Christmas Day was not the first from the Islamic terrorists nor will it be the last.  Since I am a pilot, I have had people ask what can a passenger do onboard an airplane to help thwart a terrorist attack.  Having personal experience with a few events myself, as well as reading articles and hearing stories from other crewmembers, I can give you some information which might assist you in dealing with a suspicious passenger or situation.

The first thing to realize is that there are a few different scenarios which the terrorists could be using on your particular flight.  (Also realize that it could happen on any flight, not just one originating from a non U.S. location.) Options include testing TSA and law enforcement personnel, testing passengers and crewmembers, observation, dry run/practice, and actual execution of an attack.  Of course it is hard to differentiate which scenario is playing out until after your flight lands, but it might assist you in recognizing the threat and knowing how serious your reaction should be if you know all of the options. In most of these instances, their job is to also scare you. Terrorists create terror. If you stop flying, they win.  So be pro-active. Maybe something you do will cause them to call off the attack.

As a passenger you must be observant and vigilant. Most often someone notices some unusual activity or behavior. It doesn’t have to be just a person either. Suspicious bags, luggage, packages, notes, pillows, and electronic devices have been found on planes.  One of the biggest advantages you have is the ability to profile. TSA refuses to do the obvious thanks to political correctness.  Everyone knows who is committing these attacks — Muslim, Middle-Eastern men between 18 and 40.  Maybe al Qaeda is trying to recruit others than don’t fit this profile but it sure fits the mold right now.

Some things to look for: groups or pairs of men, a passenger talking to themselves, speaking Arabic, watching crewmembers (this is different than looking), staring at the cockpit door, long stays or multiple trips to the lavatory, reading a book but not turning any pages, nervousness, being unusual by trying to fit in, taking pictures/videos, not making eye contact. When you are at the boarding area and on the plane if you notice a suspicious passenger, look for others.  How many?  If it is one or two then they could be planning on bombing the aircraft or just making observations of crew procedures.  6 or more?  Then this cell’s objective would be hijacking the plane by brute force.  Also remember that there are sleepers that try to blend in with the other passengers and could be very hard to notice.  A website reports a well-dressed man in custody that was also a passenger on Delta Flight 253. After an incident, your entire plane might be delayed for security and they will treat everyone as suspects.  Also expect the government and airline to try to cover up parts or all of an event.

A recent example of a possible test occurred on Nov 17 with an Airtran flight from Atlanta to Houston. Eleven Muslim men got on the plane and caused a big disturbance and ended with passengers assisting the flight attendants in the commotion. TSA was called, they took the men off, talked to them, and put them back on. The crewmembers walked off the plane refusing to fly it, and then passengers walked off as well. The terrorists tested the TSA and passengers but probably also threatened lawsuits to the government and Airtran. This could be setting up a later mission with hopes the TSA and airline would be afraid to take them off the plane. Just like the Delta flight, the final layer of security, the crewmembers and passengers, are the ones who might have prevented an attack, nothing the government did was successful.

The best time to do something is prior to boarding and before the aircraft pushes back from the gate while the door is still open. This is when you have some control in the situation and easier for the captain to get involved.  Before you board you can talk to a TSA employee or gate agent and explain your concerns. The gate agents are usually very busy and might give you the brush off.   Talk to other passengers.  While on the plane you will have to find a flight attendant, which could prove difficult because at times the boarding process can be quite chaotic.  If one flight attendant seems to ignore you then talk to the other one.  Maybe ask to see the captain.  Write a note.  If you are really scared, grab your bags, say you are sick, and get off the plane. Some crewmembers can be just as ignorant about the serious nature of the threat as our government officials.  One time after a flight years ago a flight attendant asked me what the captain did about the suspicious passenger. She had called the cockpit inflight to report the behavior to the captain (since retired) and he neglected to tell me anything and did nothing.

While seated look for able-bodied men, military personnel, or deadheading crew to assist you.  Maybe you notice a suspicious passenger but do not feel it warrants a visit with TSA/Flight Attendant or it happens inflight . Volunteer yourself or change seats on your own to sit next to or right behind any suspicious passengers.  A recent crew moved a soldier to sit next to a nervous Middle-Eastern passenger before pushback.  Once while I was deadheading in coach during a flight, the captain told the flight attendant to move me next to a suspicious passenger.

Once airborne there are limited options.  Talking to the flight attendants and moving seats is basically all you can do.  A divert takes time and would be a major emergency.  On the flight I diverted for security issues we had an F-16 on our tail, ready to shoot us down if we didn’t immediately land.

If an actual attack occurs, then all bets are off.  Take Action! DO NOT wait for crewmember instruction! This is a life or death situation.  The terrorists will be hoping for the element of surprise.  You will probably die anyways if the terrorists are successful so you might as well die giving them a fight.  If it is a hijacking, block the aisles and do not let them get to the cockpit.  For a bombing, jump on the passenger and separate him from the ignition source.  For a suspicious package, box, etc. there is a place on the plane to move it to, but do not move it until necessary and with guidance from the crew.

The airlines are doing their best just to stay in business with the recession, bad weather, tough competition, and low fares.  The employees are very frustrated with pay cuts, long hours, full planes, grumpy customers and poor morale. The commercial aviation system wasn’t designed to fight terrorists. And don’t necessarily blame the TSA and law enforcement agencies.  They have some really hard working personnel trying to protect us.  It is the policies implemented by people working in the U.S. government that is the problem, and amazing enough, it is the federal government that is required by law to defend us by the U.S. constitution.  So what do they do?  President Obama decides to take legal action against CIA employees for using special interrogation techniques to obtain information from terrorists to keep us safe.  It was an obvious emotional, liberal, political decision.  This will only make it much more difficult for the intelligence agencies to do their jobs and recruit/retain top talent, as well as lowering morale.

Another government employee, the DHS Secretary herself, said after the 12/25 attempted bombing, “the system worked” when it was obvious to the world that it did not.  The news media gave President Bush an amazing amount of grief for not connecting the dots with 9/11.  Regarding the underwear bomber on Flight 253; his father warned the government, was on a watch list, paid cash for his ticket, no passport, no luggage. A third grader could have connected these dots.  The Republicans had to undo the laws and policies enacted by the Clinton Administration that impeded communication between intelligence and law enforcement agencies while President Bush implemented new ones to protect us after September 11.   Now Democrats are acting like it is September 10 again.

Government by definition is a bureaucratic monopoly.  It is managed by politicians and career bureaucrats.  Slow, inefficient, unaccountable. Lots of finger pointing, blame games, commissions, hearings, conferences, meetings, and reports, but do you know anybody that got fired after 9/11, Fort Hood, or any other government blunder?  Deja vous with this security lapse?  It feels like we are on a team that wants to lose.  And I don’t like being on a team that likes losing and neither does millions of people across the United States.

Unfortunately, until the Obama administration, Congress, and our government officials get serious with national security and the war on terrorism, then what we will lose is more of our freedoms and the lives of more American citizens.

Randy Plante is a former Air Force Captain and F-111 pilot. He flew a C-130 with the Air National Guard and served two tours in the Bosnian War. Currently Mr. Plante is a Captain with 19 years at a major airline.

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Five Ways To Stop Airline Terrorism

Posted 01/12/2010 ET

The main differences between liberals and conservatives can be seen in their respective priorities. A big priority for conservatives is a strong military along with national security. We need to be safe. It seems so simple because without a strong defense, then the rest of the priorities for both liberals and conservatives would not matter at all.  Take, for example, France in World War II. The French were weak in national security and if the United States had not entered the war, they would be speaking German today. The French language might have been au revoir.

Presently we are facing a different threat with the war on terrorism.  With the attempted bombing of Delta 253, the government has shown some ineptness in the security process and its ability to protect U.S. citizens. Some quick solutions are available; waiting until November elections is not the best option.

First: The most obvious would be to fire Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Her remarks after the 12/25 incident were beyond incompetent. She said “the system worked.” I don’t have much faith in the person in charge of security when she thinks the system worked because a passenger jumped over a row of seats to stop the underwear bomber. How about this novel idea? The President should appoint people who are qualified for the job.

Second: President Obama should rescind his nomination of Erroll Southers to head the Transportation Safety Administration. Thank God for Republican Senator Jim Demint who is holding up the nomination. Southers is in favor of unionizing TSA employees; yes, the people in charge of security at our airports. Could you imagine trying to go through a security line only to find out it was closed because employees were on a lunch break? What happens if they go on strike? Negotiate security? Bad idea. This would be the perfect time to nominate someone with work experience, or at least has studied, from the Israel El Al airline system. El Al this is the model for excellent security.

Third: Congress should enact a law preventing passengers from filing lawsuits against an airline when they are removed from a flight. The terrorists have tested the system using the lawsuit technique and now the airlines are in fear of removing them. Can a person yell “fire” in a crowded theater? Can they make loud noises during a movie and get escorted out by the manager then sue? I doubt it. Nobody wants to fly with trouble. If any passenger is suspicious, obnoxious, rude, or creating a disturbance, they should be taken off, no questions asked. Currently, by law, only intoxicated passengers are required to be removed, others removed at the Captains discretion. This new law would assist the airlines immensely in not only a security role but with comfort for passengers from any drama that could enfold.

Fourth: Another solution is in the random screening process. If they already have this procedure in place and have the manpower to do it, then why don’t they just give the extra screening to those who fit the terrorist profile and not to five year old Swedish children? Start with obvious solutions and drop the political correctness immediately. I have walked through screening and watched an eighty five year old man with his pants falling down while security was wanding his belt. At least pick men in-between 18-40! If they hire the right person to head TSA, then these changes could happen.

Fifth: President Obama must show some leadership on the war on terrorism. He must start by admitting his mistakes and stop the legal action against the CIA employees who were doing the job they were hired to do. Stop the military trial against the three Navy SEALs who were doing the job they were trained to do. Stop the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. Do not treat terrorists as U.S. citizens and do not give terrorists the rights of U.S Citizens. Do not close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The attempted plane bombing and the Fort Hood tragedy have shown that war is being waged against us. Until there are some changes and soon, the President is proving that he is not taking the oath to protect this country seriously.

These are simple, easy to enact solutions. It does not entail everything that needs to be done but start with obvious, actionable, low cost, big impact strategies. It also proves that we don’t need some bureaucratic commission to get together to call for a report that would be completed in six to twelve months. Implement these five points now and save lives tomorrow.

Randy Plante is a former Air Force Captain and F-111 pilot. He flew a C-130 with the Air National Guard and served two tours in the Bosnian War. Currently Mr. Plante is a Captain with 19 years at a major airline.

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How to Respond to Terrorism Threats and Warnings

Scott Stewart – STRATFOR Global Intelligence,  October 7th, 2010

In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman wrote that recent warnings by the U.S. government of possible terrorist attacks in Europe illustrate the fact that jihadist terrorism is a threat the world will have to live with for the foreseeable future. Certainly, every effort should be made to disrupt terrorist groups and independent cells, or lone wolves, and to prevent attacks. In practical terms, however, it is impossible to destroy the phenomenon of terrorism. At this very moment, jihadists in various parts of the world are seeking ways to carry out attacks against targets in the United States and Europe and, inevitably, some of these plots will succeed. George also noted that, all too often, governments raise the alert level regarding a potential terrorist attack without giving the public any actionable intelligence, which leaves people without any sense of what to do about the threat.

The world is a dangerous place, and violence and threats of violence have always been a part of the human condition. Hadrian’s Wall was built for a reason, and there is a reason we all have to take our shoes off at the airport today. While there is danger in the world, that does not mean people have to hide under their beds and wait for something tragic to happen. Nor should people count on the government to save them from every potential threat. Even very effective military, counterterrorism, law enforcement and homeland security efforts (and their synthesis — no small challenge itself) cannot succeed in eliminating the threat because the universe of potential actors is simply too large and dispersed. There are, however, common-sense security measures that people should take regardless of the threat level.

Situational Awareness

The foundation upon which all personal security measures are built is situational awareness. Before any measures can be taken, one must first recognize that threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat and paying no attention to one’s surroundings make a person’s chances of quickly recognizing a threat and then reacting in time to avoid it quite remote. Only pure luck or the attacker’s incompetence can save such a person. Apathy, denial and complacency, therefore, can be (and often are) deadly. A second important element is recognizing the need to take responsibility for one’s own security. The resources of any government are finite and the authorities simply cannot be everywhere and stop every terrorist act.

As we’ve mentioned previously, terrorist attacks do not magically materialize. They are part of a deliberate process consisting of several distinct steps. And there are many points in that process where the plotters are vulnerable to detection. People practicing situational awareness can often spot this planning process as it unfolds and take appropriate steps to avoid the dangerous situation or prevent it from happening altogether. But situational awareness can transcend the individual. When it is exercised by a large number of people, situational awareness can also be an important facet of national security. The citizens of a nation have far more capability to notice suspicious behavior than the intelligence services and police, and this type of grassroots defense is growing more important as the terrorist threat becomes increasingly diffuse and as attackers focus more and more on soft targets. This is something we noted in last week’s Security Weekly when we discussed the motives behind warnings issued by the chief of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence regarding the terrorist threat France faces.

It is important to emphasize that practicing situational awareness does not mean living in a state of constant fear and paranoia. Fear and paranoia are in fact counterproductive to good personal security. Now, there are times when it is prudent to be in a heightened state of awareness, but people are simply not designed to operate in that state for prolonged periods. Rather, situational awareness is best practiced in what we refer to as a state of relaxed awareness. Relaxed awareness allows one to move into a higher state of alert as the situation requires, a transition that is very difficult if one is not paying any attention at all. This state of awareness permits people to go through life attentively, but in a relaxed, sustainable and less-stressful manner.


In the immediate wake of a terrorist attack or some other disaster, disorder and confusion are often widespread as a number of things happen simultaneously. Frequently, panic erupts as people attempt to flee the immediate scene of the attack. At the same time, police, fire and emergency medical units all attempt to respond to the scene, so there can be terrible traffic and pedestrian crowd-control problems. This effect can be magnified by smoke and fire, which can impair vision, affect breathing and increase the sense of panic. Indeed, frequently many of the injuries produced by terrorist bombings are not a direct result of the blast or even shrapnel but are caused by smoke inhalation and trampling.

In many instances, an attack will damage electrical lines or electricity will be cut off as a precautionary measure. Elevators also can be reserved for firefighters. This means people are frequently trapped in subway tunnels or high-rises and might be forced to escape through smoke-filled tunnels or stairwells. Depending on the incident, bridges, tunnels, subway lines and airports can be closed, or merely jammed to a standstill. For those driving, this gridlock could be exacerbated if the power is out to traffic signals.

In the midst of the confusion and panic, telephone and cell phone usage will soar. Even if the main trunk lines and cell towers have not been damaged by the attack or taken down by the loss of electricity, a huge spike in activity will quickly overload the exchanges and cell networks. This causes ripples of chaos and disruption to roll outward from the scene as people outside the immediate vicinity of the attack zone hear about the incident and wonder what has become of loved ones who were near the attack site.

Those caught in the vicinity of an attack have the best chance of escaping and reconnecting with loved ones if they have a personal contingency plan. Such plans should be in place for each regular location — home, work and school — that each member of the family frequents and should cover what that person will do and where he or she will go should an evacuation be necessary. Obviously, parents of younger children need to coordinate more closely with their children’s schools than parents of older children. Contingency plans need to establish meeting points for family members who might be split up — and backup points in case the first or second point is also affected by the disaster.

The lack of ability to communicate with loved ones because of circuit overload or other phone-service problems can greatly enhance the sense of panic during a crisis. Perhaps the most value derived from having personal and family contingency plans is a reduction in the stress that results from not being able to immediately contact a loved one. Knowing that everyone is following the plan frees each person to concentrate on the more pressing issue of evacuation. Additionally, someone who waits until he or she has contacted all loved ones before evacuating might not make it out. Contingency planning should also include a communication plan that provides alternate means of communication in case the telephone networks go down.

People who work or live high-rises, frequently travel or take subways should consider purchasing and carrying a couple of pieces of equipment that can greatly assist their ability to evacuate such locations. One of these is a smoke hood, a protective device that fits over the head and provides protection from smoke inhalation. The second piece of equipment is a flashlight small enough to fit in a pocket, purse or briefcase. Such a light could prove invaluable in a crisis situation at night or when the power goes out in a large building or subway. Some of the small aluminum flashlights also double as a handy self-defense weapon.

It is also prudent to maintain a small “fly-away” kit containing clothes, water, a first aid kit, nutritional bars, medications and toiletry items for you and your family in your home or office. Items such as a battery- or hand-powered radio, a multitool knife and duct tape can also prove quite handy in an emergency. The kit should be kept in convenient place, ready to grab on the way out.

Contingency planning is important because, when confronted with a dire emergency, many people simply do not know what to do. Not having determined their options in advance — and in shock over the events of the day — they are unable to think clearly enough to establish a logical plan and instead wander aimlessly around, or simply freeze in panic.

The problems are magnified when there are large numbers of people caught unprepared, trying to find solutions, and scrambling for the same emergency materials you are. Having an established plan in place gives even a person who is in shock or denial and unable to think clearly a framework to lean on and a path to follow. It also allows them to get a step ahead of everybody else and make positive progress toward more advanced stages of self-protection or evacuation rather than milling around among the dazed and confused.

Travel Security

Of course, not all emergencies occur close to home, and the current U.S. government warning was issued for citizens traveling in Europe, so a discussion here of travel security is certainly worthwhile. Obviously, the need to practice situational awareness applies during travel as much as it does anywhere else. There are, however, other small steps that can be taken to help keep one safe from criminals and terrorists when away from home.

In recent years, terrorists have frequently targeted hotels, which became attractive soft targets when embassies and other diplomatic missions began hardening their security. This means that travelers should not only look at the cost of a hotel room but also carefully consider the level of security provided by a hotel before they make a choice. In past attacks, such as the November 2005 hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, the attackers surveilled a number of facilities and selected those they felt were the most vulnerable. Location is also a critical consideration. Hotels that are close to significant landmarks or hotels that are themselves landmarks should be considered carefully.

Travelers should also request rooms that are somewhere above the ground floor to prevent a potential attacker from easily entering the room but not more than several stories up so that a fire department extension ladder can reach them in an emergency. Rooms near the front of the hotel or facing the street should be avoided when possible; attacks against hotels typically target the foyer or lobby at the front of the building. Hotel guests should also learn where the emergency exits are and physically walk the route to ensure it is free from obstruction. It is not unusual to find emergency exits blocked or chained and locked in Third World countries. And it is prudent to avoid lingering in high-risk areas such as hotel lobbies, the front desk and entrance areas and bars. Western diplomats, business people and journalists who frequently congregate in these areas have been attacked or otherwise targeted on numerous occasions in many different parts of the world.


Finally, it is important to keep the terrorist threat in perspective. As noted above, threats of violence have always existed, and the threat posed to Europe by jihadist terrorists today is not much different from that posed by Marxist or Palestinian terrorists in the 1970s. It is also far less of a threat than the people of Europe experienced from the army of the Umayyad Caliphate at Tours in 732, or when the Ottoman Empire attacked Vienna in 1683. Indeed, far more people (including tourists) will be affected by crime than terrorism in Europe this year, and more people will be killed in European car accidents than terrorist attacks.

If people live their lives in a constant state of fear, those who seek to terrorize them have won. Terror attacks are a tactic used by a variety of militant groups for a variety of ends. As the name implies, terrorism is intended to produce a psychological impact that far outweighs the actual physical damage caused by the attack itself. Denying would-be terrorists this multiplication effect, as the British largely did after the July 2005 subway bombings, prevents them from accomplishing their greater goals. Terror can be countered when people assume the proper mindset and then take basic security measures and practice relaxed awareness. These elements work together to dispel paranoia and to prevent the fear of terrorism from robbing people of the joy of life.