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Not if, But When

Lyons, APCLLC Training Consultant/Global Threat Specialist

“Not if, but when.” A statement meant as a warning, it is one that even my mother would use to inform me of my impending doom for some scholastic or social infraction. “When, not if, I decide your punishment, you’re going to wish that you had behaved like an angel.” It sent a shiver up my spine then, and the thought of it in this present society does the same. The threat of terrorism, despite what our leaders would tell us, is alive and valid. What that means for us as law enforcement, military, and security professionals is that as vigilant as we may perceive ourselves to be, those that we have sworn to protect cannot afford to rest on that vigilance alone. They must have the assurance that though they may feel safe at the present, we as the safe keepers will always remain “justifiably paranoid.”

It was recently announced that Osama bin Laden plans to release a new video. The media and its selection of terrorism and counterterrorism experts have speculated far and wide about the meaning of the tape and its repercussions. Their theories have ranged from a mere taunting of the United States on the anniversary of the worst catastrophe that this nation has ever seen, to the encoded call for further attacks from his followers. Other videos have come before, and each was studied and picked apart, with as yet inconclusive evidence. All of that, however, is meaningless to us a peacemakers and peacekeepers. What has meaning is the fact that whether or not a video is sent, terror attacks have continued.

Call me a doomsday bandit, but it would be in our best interest to assume that more attacks are in the works. Not just internationally, but within our own borders. To become obsessively paranoid would be detrimental to our cause as the main line of defense in the war against terrorist and other criminal organizations. But what is needed is the foresight to realize the impact that these seemingly simple video messages have on all of us. A simple case in point: How many of the recent terror attacks and plots (Glasgow, Germany, Fort Dix, etc.) have been attributed to “al Qaeda sympathizers?” We can dismiss these perpetrators as crackpots, wannabe’s and goofs, but we all know that it takes only one success to make it into the big leagues and be hailed as a martyr.

So what does this mean for us as peacemakers and peacekeepers? It means that while our vigilance is a necessity, it is not our only weapon. Foresight and a healthy dose of “justifiable paranoia” will keep us poised and ready for the next act in what has been and will continue to be a long war.

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