Al-Qaida May Seek 'Soft Targets'

Friday, 01 Oct 2010 11:07 AM

By Bruce Mandelblit

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Recent media stories once again have put a powerful spotlight on the realistic possibility that groups linked to al-Qaida may be planning a “soft target” terror attack in Europe, and even on U.S. territory.

These potential terror attacks may be similar to the Mumbai shooting spree attacks from November 2008.

Security officials in both Europe and the United States have asked their citizens to report any suspicious activity.

This leads to the question: Exactly what is suspicious activity when it comes to an act or potential act of terrorism?

The FBI says there are seven things you could do that might help prevent a terrorist from carrying out evil acts:

1. Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars, etc., near key facilities/events?

2. Suspicious Questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, e-mail, etc., regarding a key facility or people who work there?

3. Tests of Security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility/event?

4. Acquiring Supplies: Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards, or identification for a key facility/event or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack?

5. Suspicious Persons: Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or near a key facility/event?

6. "Dry Runs": Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities/events, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?

7. Deploying Assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facility/event?

Quick Security Tip: Per the FBI, if you answered yes to any of the above — if you have observed any suspicious activity that may relate to terrorism — immediately contact the Joint Terrorist Task Force or law enforcement/counterterrorism agency closest to you.

According to the FBI, no matter where you live in the world: Your assistance is needed in preventing terrorist acts.

It's a fact that certain kinds of activities can indicate terrorist plans that are in the works, especially when they occur at or near high-profile sites or places where large numbers of people gather — such as government buildings, military facilities, utilities, bus or train stations, and major public events. Again, if you see or know about suspicious activities, like the ones listed above, report them immediately to the proper law enforcement authorities.

For more information on this important topic, go to FBI.gov.

My Final Thoughts: Americans can do their part to help keep our country safe. All of us can be the extra eyes and ears of law enforcement by immediately reporting any suspicious activities to the proper authorities. As the FBI says: Your tip could save the lives of innocent people.

Copyright 2010 by Bruce Mandelblit

Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.



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