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Posted over 4 years ago
KEITH R. LAVERY
As the United States moves forward under new leadership and we all read about positive and negative changes, the one constant we in LE have to deal with is this: there are people in the world who hate us simply for who we are and the beliefs we hold. They will attempt to affect our country and our direction of growth through acts of violence against all of us no matter our profession, race, gender, age or religious belief. To dismiss that threat out of hand simply because there hasn't been a successful attack in the United States since 9/11 is reckless. We are tasked with serving and protecting our communities. Denial doesn't serve anyone. Read and learn. Email questions to Mr. Lavery through the link in his biography. Visit ATAB online and learn more. As a Certified Anti-terrorism Specialist through that organization, I can objectively attest to the value of their training and information. -Frank Borelli
Terrorism 101: Know Your Enemy
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009, marked the beginning of a new presidential era while ending the era of another. President Barack Obama took office during a period of many uncertainties while President Bush (#43) leaves while being at the helm when those issues became reality. By many accounts, it's been a long eight years under the leadership of George Bush and historians will debate whether his role as president either caused the pain or he simply served as inheritor. One pain, for certain, landed in his lap and in the lives of every American on the morning of September 11th, 2001. That dreadful day ushered in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and although the pain emanating from the injury of that event seems to have waned from the collective memory of most Americans, the threat has not diminished. Quite the opposite; it's only become worse.
During his last week as president, George Bush warned President-Elect Obama through media circuits that GWOT will be the number one threat to the peace and security of The United States of America while the nation enters an uncertain future. Hearing a statement like that from an outgoing president, one would have to wonder what President Bush knew that the average law-abiding citizen of his country does not. For one, the Homeland Security Threat Assessment for 2008-2013 released with little media fan-fare this past December highlighted that chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks are the most dangerous threats facing our nation, and these types of threats are not the only ones that will confront our nation "...over the next five years". Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff declared in a CBS News report, dated December 25th, 2008, that defending the homeland is the number one federal priority. That's the good news. The bad news is that the federal level is only one third of the total governing equation. State and local levels have apparently dropped the ball, or have been left out of the loop, so to speak, by the fed's regarding homeland defense against terrorism.
Case in Point: Ask your local beat cop what the federal definition of "Terrorism" is and be prepared to wait a very long time for an answer. I would put money on it they won't know. Would you? Actually, it's not your fault or theirs. The feds can"t even agree on a single definition. The FBI defines terrorism as:
The U.S. Department of Defense calls terrorism:
Want another definition? There are about 109 more covering "22 different definitional elements" according to a book titled, Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, and Literature. Why the confusion? Crazy people are trying to kill us in the most horrific ways possible. We should at least be able to come up with one unified term for terrorism, right? This doesn't surprise me though.
Nearly five years ago I sat in a large conference room with about 100 other undercover detectives and received my first intelligence briefing from the federal government. It was scary. Let me just say that as state and local law enforcement, we realized that we were really behind the curve on this big time. Beyond understanding how serious the threat actually is, I was even more disturbed to find out that I was learning this information for the first time more than 4 years after 9/11. I remember thinking then, "How can we protect our country when we are half a decade behind them (terrorists)?" Law Enforcement, in general, dropped the ball.
Five years after that intelligence briefing, I am still in awe as to why policing really hasn't changed in any substantive way to address the terrorism threat. There have been some changes, such as the JTTF, DHS, TSA, Fusion Centers, etc., but real, tangible, considerable change from the patrol officer perspective has not taken place. Cops are still deployed to the street and handle call priorities the way we always have for the most part. Today, I train police officers, or those entering the profession, full-time. I can attest, without a doubt, that the backbone of American Policing for every community - the Patrol Officer - is not receiving any measurable training in anti-terrorism. For many, I was the first person, eight years after 9/11, to explain, in any depth, what terrorism is.
Any number of the subject matter experts who write columns for Officer.com will attest that failure-to-train due to (pick a reason) is not an excuse and in certain circumstances is unlawful. If your agency is not giving you the information you may need to at least have a functional understanding of the "terrorism problem" then let me be the first to give you what I can. Each month I will provide an article detailing information that will build upon the previous months. In theory, the articles will progress with data delivered in a way that may be reminiscent of a college class on terrorism, but in reality will contain information that you should be able to take immediately to the street and use. As Sun Tzu said nearly 2500 years ago, "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."