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Seven Signs of Terrorism

  • Published
  • By Michael Sydnor
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Antiterrorism Office
Threat reporting involving military installations has been on the rise in the past few months. From the world trade center bombing until 9/11, 3,113 days passed. From 9/11 to today, more than 3,000 days have passed. The threat is real - personal/organizational complacency increases Department of Defense vulnerability. Reporting of suspicious activities must be emphasized at all level.
The 43rd Airlift Wing Antiterrorism Office receives information daily on suspicious activity that is perceived as tests of security and monitoring of DoD security and mission capabilities. Experts suggest that these reports are indicators that terrorist may be planning an attack on military installations or surrounding areas frequented by military members. Recall the incident at Fort Dix, N.J. in May - six individual were arrested for plotting an attack on the installation. Their plan was thwarted by an aware citizen. When interrogated, the potential terrorist said they considered Dover Air Force Base, Del, but it appeared to be too difficult a target. In the world of antiterrorism this is known as a "hard target."

Everyone has the power to prevent terrorism. Simply being alert and reporting suspicious activity is a huge step in combating terrorism. To help recognize potential terrorism, remember the seven signs: surveillance, elicitation, test of security, acquiring supplies, dry-runs/trail run and deploying assets.

There has been a significant increase in terrorist activities reported by the media in recent months. Most of the incidents are unrelated, but some have a known DoD nexus. Sept. 19, a person was arrested in Colorado and was indicted for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. This person and his associates attempted to acquire hydrogen peroxide and acetone in order to make improvised explosive devices to potentially target public gathering places with large numbers of people, i.e., stadiums and mass transit.

On Sept. 23, a person from Illinois was arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempting to use explosives to detonate a vehicle improvised explosive device at a federal building in downtown Springfield, Illinois. On Sept. 24., a person was charged in Texas with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

This person was apprehended for placing an inert/inactive car bomb near a 60 story glass office tower located in downtown Dallas.

June 1, two Army Soldiers were shot outside a recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark., killing one. These are just a few examples of terrorist type incidents that have occurred in this country this year alone.

Closer to home for us, in July 2009, a person was arrested in North Carolina with six other people for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. This person was also charged with conspiring to murder military personnel. These people resided in a small rural community only a few counties away. This proves terrorism can happen here, and is even more reason for everyone to be cognizant of suspicious activity.

Never think it won't happen here. Pope and Fort Bragg play a vital role on the war on terrorism, a role that is publicized on local and national news daily. This is as good a place as any for the bad guys to strike. The objective is to make it too difficult for a terrorist to successfully attack without risking capture. In many cases if the risk is too great for a terrorist mission to succeed, they will go elsewhere. With the help of Team Pope, this objective can be met.

When reporting suspicious activity always be specific. If possible, take notes and get license plate numbers. Be specific when describing individuals and vehicles involved, i.e. race, height, approximate age, clothing worn or other distinguishing factors. When describing a vehicle, report the color and type of vehicle i.e. SUV, four-door sedan or compact car. The make and model if known are also valuable pieces of information.

Record times, dates and location of the activity. Use camera phones if it can be done in an inconspicuous manner. Never approach someone you believe to be conducting surveillance.

Every unit on Pope has a unit Antiterrorism Representative. The representatives are liaisons with the 43rd AT to implement measures that make our installation more secure - they are the unit's experts on antiterrorism. They help enforce the need to report suspicious activity, administer the installation random antiterrorism measures program, ensure antiterrorism training is being conducted and disseminate information regarding the threat climate.

Remember, everyone plays a vital role in fighting terrorism. Use the tools in place and be cognizant of the surroundings for suspicious activity. In most cases if it doesn't seem right - it warrants reporting. Remember the seven signs of terrorism.