The concept of situational awareness is critical when preparing to confront an enemy or a potential disaster of any kind. The first step in developing such awareness is to know that an enemy exists and to identify from where the enemy threat may develop. These issues were the thrust of the November 29th, 2007, Terrorism Awareness Presentation. Ray Gross, Federal Way’s Emergency Preparedness Manager, presided over the presentation and facilitated some helpful discussion with a good cross-section of the Federal Way community.
Ray Gross, spent eight years in the Marines, obtained a degree in accounting and started out in the field of emergency management in Southern California. Ray will tell you that the Northwest has environmental extremists, professional anarchists and assorted other home grown extremists that are escalating toward more violent exploits. They cannot operate without a social groundwork to provide camouflage and support.
The purpose of this report is to apply theoretical knowledge from a variety of sources to tactical issues in Federal Way. Think about scenarios that could develop locally in the same way that the military creates opposing teams that work up plans, with one team pretending to be the Taliban, insurrectionists or homegrown organizations bent on attacking military installations, pipelines, nuclear facilities, etc. In case you are not reading the newspapers, several actual plans have been discovered; e.g., the young men of Middle-Eastern descent that were trying to acquire assault weapons from “Al Qaeda” (actually a federal agent) for the purpose of attacking Fort Dix.
In another well reported case, convicts hatched a plan that they actually began to execute after they were released from prison. The plan was to rob businesses in order to acquire funds to finance larger attacks against Jewish facilities in the U.S., U.S. military installations and “valuable” civilian targets.
“Target Value” to a terrorist indicates a potential to create overwhelming bewilderment that causes the population to lose confidence in the ability of the government to protect us.
While some of the material herein was presented on November 29th, the conclusions are solely based on the author’s interpretation of situational dynamics gleaned from a variety of sources that may need to be identified as time goes on.
One intriguing aspect of the blog format is the ability to throw out some raw material and then draw on the comments and other feedback. Since our format is always a continuing work in progress, statements and suggestions can be adjusted, revised and tested by the unfolding impact of subsequent events. As they say in warfare, the only thing that is for sure is that the plan will be changed as things go wrong on the battlefield and unanticipated circumstances materialize. In other words, we welcome your comments and analyses. There are no real experts in this area, just people that are willing to pay attention and people that blithely sail on ignoring the brewing storm.
The first point then is to make clear that we are in a war. The numbers of groups that pose threats of violence are legion. These groups may link up on an operational level even when they oppose each other ideologically; e.g., Al Qaeda (a Sunni extremist base of operations conducts operations in conjunction with Iran, governed by a regime that is Shiite and diametrically opposed to the Sunni sect).
Think about white supremacists like Timothy McVeigh and the potential for homegrown brands of extremism to operate in tandem with any number of groups that hate Israel and the U.S. Government.
One important concept to Islamicists, according to intelligence generated from interrogation rooms and jihadist internet training sites is that of “the perfect day”. This would be like a perfect storm where many apparently unrelated forces and individuals come together via certain triggering events.
By way of explanation: there have been at least two instances where men of the Islamic persuasion have attacked offices of the Jewish Federation, once here in Seattle and once in San Francisco. In each case there was no evidence reported by the media that these men were affiliated with any organized extremist groups so the stories were not reported by the media as terrorist incidents:
The idea that a lone individual will appear seemingly out of nowhere to launch a horrific terrorist attack sends shivers down the spines of public security planners and law enforcement officers — not to mention average citizens. Because of their unique traits, “lone wolves” present very real challenges to the law enforcement and security professionals charged with guarding against such threats.
See Jihad & Lone Wolf terrorists.
When we look at the larger pattern, however, it becomes apparent that many other such individuals may actually be programmed by their belief system to act (apparently spontaneously) and certain events may trigger such apparently spontaneous terrorist activities in the future.
The man in San Francisco (who started his homicidal drive through the City by assaulting Jews near the Jewish Federation in San Francisco) and another man at a university in the Southeastern United States used vehicles to assault and murder numerous pedestrians.
At least one of these murderers demonstrated perfect rationality (within the premises of his own belief system). He planned the attacks for days, going through all the rituals required by his faith prior to a jihad attack. The man has all the earmarks of a Takfiri, a loose knit group of extremists from North Africa that are more deadly and insidious than Al Qaeda.
A Takfiri (from the Arabic word ÊßÝíÑí) accuses other Muslims of apostasy. Takfiris are not bound by the usual religious constraints regarding wearing a beard, drinking alcohol, or eating pork when such restrictions would interfere with waging effective jihad. To Takfiris, strict adherence to those laws interferes with the covert action necessary to “defend” Islam. Because Takfiris “blend in,” they can organize, plan, and take action necessitated by the overriding duty of jihad with less risk of identification, interference, or interception.
The Northwest has had a tradition of aiding and abetting anarchy that goes back at least to the days when Eugene Debbs organized the Industrial Workers of the World.
“Big Bill” Haywood, and two other WFM leaders, Mssrs. Pettibone and Moyer, were prosecuted for the murder of Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg after the Governor was assassinated for keeping order in North Idaho. His home was blown up by Harry Orchard, a professional bomber for the Western Federation of Miners. It was the trial of the century and many famous personalities, including Clarence Darrow for the defense, played starring roles.
The Wobblies clashed with the U.S. Government and local governments, especially after the WW I began. By advocating that WW I was a war of the capitalist class and the international bankers, the Wobblies who were loggers, unemployed bindlestiffs and members of other crafts were violating the Espionage Act and other laws by interfering with the U.S. Government’s ability to fight the Great War. The IWW and its enemies also participated in armed violence and bombings that killed many people.
Distinguished members of the bar around the United States, including Clarence Darrow, and local lawyers like Seattle’s own George Francis Vanderveer (See The Counsel for the Damned, by Lowell S. Hawley and Ralph Bushnell Potts), came to the Wobblies’ defense and aggressively represented the “Wobblies”, as they came to be known. The IWW’s support resided in a network of mining camps, radical trade unionists like the Western Federation of Miners and a far flung criminal underground that included professional assassins, saboteurs and organizers. See also “Cabal of Death: Harry Orchard and His Associates in Murder in the Western Mining Wars” (Gem Book)by Robert Grimmett. The IWW was philosophically not far removed from the professional Anarchists that terrorized Seattle during the WTO riots several years ago.
It is a sure bet that, the next time the WTO comes to town, Anarchists will progress beyond just vandalizing the storefronts of such symbols of corporate abuse as Starbucks Coffee. The same kind of people went beyond breaking windows to assaulting delegates at the Republican Convention in Twin Cities this summer. The fact that such groups exist and may have a propensity for violence (think about environmental terrorists and so-called animal rights activists- ELF and ALF respectively) raises the issue of whether these groups represent the same degree of imminent danger as jihadists who have sworn to destroy the U.S. and Israel in order to establish a worldwide Caliphate under Shariah law.
The main reason for discussing these organizations in so much detail is to show that Washington State and the whole West Coast is an environment in which violence prone “activists” may be able to find a refuge. We live in a social sea that provides habitat for radical schools of fish to swim, with food, cover and places to blend in with their surroundings.
This brings us to the first target in Federal Way that satisfies all the criteria for likely target selection- Weyerhauser Corporation. Located on its semi-wooded campus in Federal Way, Weyerhauser has visibility and value as a symbol of corporate interests that are antithetical to many in the environmental movement (think Enviromental Liberation Movement- they already have graduated beyond arson to more serious crimes).
People arrive at Weyerhauser at predictable times via predictable routes and it is relatively accessible. Nevertheless, Weyerhauser lacks one key criterion as a probable target, the management is aware of the threat, not unaware. The employees on their way to work, though, are another story.
Does anyone remember the Pakistani jihadist that appeared outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, killed two employees waiting to turn into the parking lot and then disappeared into Pakistan for almost five years? That was in the early 1990’s. The FBI finally got their man but they had to go to Pakistan and actually abduct him (with some help from the nice government over there).
We have a major pipeline for natural gas transmission that runs right through the boundary between our city and neighboring Auburn. It is relatively close to residential areas and Weyerhauser. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently featured an article about Communist terrorists in Mexico. They blew up pipelines that caused billions of dollars in damage and great loss of life. An ocean going ship carrying liquefied natural gas and putting into the Port of Tacoma can be used in such a way as to create an explosion that will physically impact areas as far away as Federal Way.
The most likely way to prevent explosions, deployment of chemical weapons and biological agents is by interrupting the perpetrators at their most vulnerable point in the cycle of destruction. The vulnerable point is at the point where the terrorist organization surveils its targets far ahead of an actual detonation or other point where the plan is executed. In order to select a target some individuals will begin reconnoitering the area. The enemy needs to plan and deploy and of course companies like Weyerhauser and cities like New York City and Los Angeles employ intelligence professionals to anticipate attacks.
What is the Commons Mall in Federal Way doing to obtain intelligence? Or the City of Federal Way, for that matter? Or your local church or small business? Here I may sound alarmist again but most of us have heard of how Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has attacked shoppers in the market place, public officials and Christian churches in Iraq (many mosques have also seen carnage). And they have been wildly successful at killing Iraqi police recruits, little children and even our own troops while the troops were in highly secured areas. The jihadists often perpetrated such atrocities by dressing like police. So if you feel comfortable- don’t be.
The WSJ had an interesting article on November 30, 2007, explaining the ways in which the conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan is more a battle of the mind than of the flesh (in a sense, isn’t every war like that?). The goal of the insurrection is to get the U.S. installations “by the belt”. This means to infiltrate closely enough within secured perimeters that the security forces are afraid to shoot for fear of hitting their own men and women.
Remember the Chechens that murdered Russian school children in Beslan? The LAPD and other agencies that have jurisdiction in localities where there are extensive support systems for Chechen minorities, already are monitoring many of these groups, that can be motivated by money and politics at the same time (they send the money home to fund their insurrection against Russia and other republics of the former USSR0. They look just like Ukrainians, Russians, Irishmen or Scandinavians; i.e., white, Anglo and American. And they could be teamed up with the M-13 gang (literally an international army with many thousands of soldiers all over the U.S.) or other mercenary gangs from South of the border. The moral of this story is to know those that labor among you. Talk to your local police and get involved in the CERT program or some of the local volunteer law enforcement assistance programs. Block Watches work.
Ironically, perhaps, it is the secular humanist world-view that provides the best cultural support system for terror networks. There is nothing wrong with diversity but we need to be able to discuss community safety issues without the chilling-effect of having to talk as though pro-life activists pose a threat that is commensurate to Al Qaeda’s activities and goals (some people apparently equate the convicted terrorist, Eric Rudolph, with parents that spank their children or lawfully demonstrate in front of abortion clinics).
If your church, business or police force is not out gathering intelligence, don’t feel too upset. Intelligence gathering is expensive and sophisticated in nature. The federal government itself keeps telling us that its defense system depends on observant people like you and I that listen to our guts and make that phone call when we see suspicious activity at the local mall, freeway viaduct or intersection.
As a lawyer, I have to warn you. If you make a call about an employee, neighbor or some suspicious looking customer or business activity, you may be sued! This may not surprise you but you need to understand that the threat of legal action is a recognized weapon of terrorists. The Council of Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) and other Islamic “civil rights” groups have done a great deal to undermine the ability of government officials and other responsible authorities to take action against determined enemies. There has been at least one RICO suit against CAIR that alleges that they are in a conspiracy orchestrated with known terrorist groups to make America more vulnerable to attacks.
Remember the clerics that boarded an airliner and acted very suspiciously and then sued when they were “discriminated” against?
People that are aware of “diversity” issues are often sensitive to other people’s rights and justifiably concerned about legal liability.
Other people will tell you that fundamentalist Christians are tantamount to jihadists. Many people right here in Federal Way think Bush is the enemy and do not believe we are even at war.
Meanwhile there is viable intelligence indicating that Islamic males have been boarding school buses around the United States, possibly just to see what kind of reaction develops- is the reaction predictable?
Terrorists are known to test their prospective victims the same way a shark bumps a potential victim in the water. So if you see a ladder against your building, check on why it is there. A jihadist scout may be waiting to see how long it takes before someone checks to see whether someone is on the roof.
We need some armed school bus drivers and teachers that are trained volunteers in the battle to protect our children. The voters should be telling elected officials and administrators at every level to start providing training for volunteer school district staff; training now- not after our children are captured, tortured and raped. You may think I am exaggerating. Just remember, while you are getting angry at the messenger, some people are planning to perpetrate atrocities on our little ones and others will react violently against innocent Muslims if atrocities against children actually occur.
Provoking a violent reaction is the end-goal of the jihadist strategy. Their ultimate goal is to recruit soldiers in the war to destroy our way of life but to get there they have to create division within our society (it is working, in case you have not noticed). Do not be so complacent and smug that you believe that destruction of our American way of life is impossible.
If you work at any level of school administration, government or your church, start getting trained by professionals that teach defensive use of deadly force.
At present, you cannot take a weapon into a school or many government buildings legally. Nevertheless, it takes time to become proficient with use of a pistol even if you already have some familiarity. So start learning now.
It is just a matter of time before you will be glad that you heeded the advice herein. Do not discount small-arms as potent weapons in the hands of honest citizens, as well as terrorists. A few teams of jihadist shooters that are prepared to die can go into an intersection or mall and cause pain, death and fear that will shut down the American economy for years.
We need trained people in every walk of life, including teachers and journalists that are willing to protect our children, families and way of life. You do not even need a concealed carry license to protect yourself with a pistol in your home and business. But you still have to travel to your place of business and a permit will usually eliminate the mandatory wait period for purchasing a handgun.
Incidentally, China is the leading country that is quietly testing every vulnerability within cyberspace. Not just military and intelligence data is at risk. Business-to-business linkage is virtually universal and failure in key industries could mean that the whole country is at risk. The way this applies to your business is that you could be doing business with a Boeing vendor or other defense related supplier. That relationship alone makes you a target for worms, robots and Trojan Horses. You, the small business person, become an unwitting host for mole programs that are as dangerous as sleeper cells unless you spend a great deal of time and money overseeing your network.
“A report issued Thursday by security-software firm McAfee said government-affiliated hackers in China are at the forefront of a brewing “cyber Cold War” still in its infancy:
Within two decades, according to McAfee, the scuffle could erupt into a worldwide conflict involving hundreds of countries attacking one another’s online networks with sophisticated software.
“America is under widespread attack in cyberspace,” Gen. James Cartwright, then-commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the military’s computer grid, told Congress in March. “Our freedom to use cyberspace is threatened by the actions of criminals, terrorists and nations alike.”
The department received 37,000 reports of attempted breaches on government and private systems in fiscal 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared with 24,000 the previous year. Assaults on federal agencies increased 152 percent during that period, from 5,143 to 12,986.
A worst-case attack could shut down computer command-and-control systems that run banking, water and sewer systems, traffic lights, oil and gas networks and nearly every other element of the public infrastructure.
The roster of adversaries in cyberspace includes foreign militaries and intelligence services, hackers who could be working in league with foreign governments, and “hacktivists” — hackers with political agendas.
Terrorists, thus far, are considered only a limited threat, but they could become more dangerous as technically proficient younger members join the ranks, the Government Accountability Office said in September, citing the CIA.”
In the years leading up to September 11th, our government was focused on China as the main source of any potential threat to U.S. security. Many officials (and candidates) are now focusing on Islamo-terrorism but China is still a threat.
Remember that, in an environment where terrorism proliferates, the opportunities multiply for covert operational linkage between ideologically opposed groups. Additionally, look at the world map displaying recent terrorist incidents worldwide.
An event does not have to maim or kill. Even the initial apprehension of nuclear radiation may severely disrupt normal life and chill economic activities in a way that hampers security and impacts the way of life in the U.S.
The Posse Comitatus Act, enacted after the Civil War, was intended to prevent the situation in the formerly Confederate South (where federal troops constituted an occupational government perceived to threaten the Southern way of life). U.S. Troops cannot carry their military weapons stateside (outside of military bases and reservations) without potentially running afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act.
The Bush administration provided a new level of protection that did not exist previously with the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act, allowing active and retired police officers to carry their personal weapons anywhere in the United States.
Maybe such a provision for qualified members of the armed forces would help to ensure safety on the streets and in homes, businesses, schools, etc.