Coordinated terrorist attacks: implications for local responders.With elections only a few days away, the terrorism threat level is at high, and law enforcement personnel are on the lookout for in search of; looking for.
See also: Lookout suspicious behavior that may indicate an imminent terrorist attack. As the morning commute gets underway, three bombs explode on a commuter train at a downtown station, killing and injuring those in the path of the blast wave Noun 1. blast wave - a region of high pressure travelling through a gas at a high velocity; "the explosion created a shock wave"
undulation, wave - (physics) a movement up and down or back and forth and shrapnel. Law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel respond, but, as they mobilize, four more bombs explode in another train arriving at the same station, instantly doubling the number of people dead and wounded. Soon, another bomb goes off inside a train a few miles away, requiring public safety personnel and resources there as well. The nightmare reaches its peak 5 minutes later as two more bombs blow apart a commuter train at still another downtown location, killing and injuring even more people. The emergency response community now faces mass fatalities and seemingly countless injuries at three separate sites. Though this scenario sounds like the subject of novels and Hollywood thrillers, it actually took place on March 11, 2004, in Madrid, Spain. (1) This type of incident, like many similar ones in recent years, has important implications for the ways in which local responders prepare for terrorist attacks of all kinds.
DEFINITIONS AND TRENDS
Coordinated terrorist assaults include elements that occur simultaneously or nearly so and are conducted by a single terrorist organization or jointly by sympathetic groups. Historically, however, the vast majority of hazardous device-based terrorist attacks have not fit this description, but have been "simple" in design, featuring only one component, such as a single, placed bomb or a suicide bomber Noun 1. suicide bomber - a terrorist who blows himself up in order to kill or injure other people
act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political . Nevertheless, in recent years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time number of coordinated assaults has increased, especially among the terrorist groups of greatest concern to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Moreover, since 1983, half of the 14 terrorist incidents The following is a timeline of acts and failed attempts that can be considered non-state terrorism. Massacres more generally are listed chronologically at List of massacres; assassinations are listed by location at List of assassinated people. with 100 or more fatalities were coordinated ones. (2)
A mix of interrelated in·ter·re·late
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.
in reasons makes coordinated attacks appealing to terrorist groups. Such incidents have the potential to cause greater damage than simple operations in terms of the lives, property, and geographic areas affected, as well as the psychological impact. The increased destruction lends credibility to the terrorist organization as it reflects an ability to plan and execute sophisticated operations, implies a multiplicity of personnel and supporters, and creates the impression that the group can cover many areas at the same time. This combination of perceived and actual destructive power and resultant credibility makes such attacks and the organizations that perpetrate per·pe·trate
tr.v. per·pe·trat·ed, per·pe·trat·ing, per·pe·trates
To be responsible for; commit: perpetrate a crime; perpetrate a practical joke. them more "news-worthy," allowing such groups to gain public attention, one of the main goals of all terrorist campaigns.
Overall, coordinated terrorist incidents fall into three main categories: 1) parallel device attacks, where participants use more than one device simultaneously or almost simultaneously in the same location; 2) secondary attacks, where the initial assault is followed by one or more additional attacks in the same location, typically targeting responders; and 3) multiple dispersed attacks, where groups stage simultaneous or near-simultaneous ones at different locations. Depending on the type, more than one incident scene might exist, but, taken together, they constitute a single attack, with repercussions repercussions npl → répercussions fpl
repercussions npl → Auswirkungen pl greater than those of the individual-component category. With this in mind, understanding how terrorists use coordinated assaults can assist local emergency responders in better planning, training, and organizing to respond to such incidents.
Parallel devices allow terrorists to inflict greater damage in any one incident site without having to construct or transport a single, larger one required to create similar results. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , rather than relying on one large bomb, terrorists can use two or more smaller, yet equally lethal, ones. The reasonable assumption that smaller devices are less vulnerable to detection raises the likelihood of the attack's execution. Moreover, regardless of the size of the bomb, even if one or more of the perpetrators is intercepted, others still may manage to complete their missions. Thus, parallel devices provide terrorists with greater assurance that they will execute at least part of their planned attack.
The use of parallel devices also allows terrorists to create multiple focus points at the incident site, thereby expanding the overall perimeter affected by the attack. With this expansion comes greater demand for both responders and resources, which can tax emergency reaction elsewhere in the jurisdiction. At the same time, this high concentration of forces in a single location potentially increases their susceptibility to secondary attacks.
The triple-suicide bombing carried out by Hamas on September 4, 1997, on the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall pedestrian mall pedestrian (US) n → Fußgängerzone f
pedestrian mall n (US) → zona pedonale in Jerusalem can demonstrate a parallel device attack. (3) In that one, three males, one dressed as a woman, each detonated a 4- to 5-pound bomb packed with nuts and bolts nuts and bolts
The basic working components or practical aspects: "[proposing] to create puncture, as well as blast, injuries. Five people were killed and 181 were wounded.
Attackers also employed parallel devices in the October 12, 2002, attack in Bali, which killed 202. (4) The first blast, from a relatively small bomb, drew people out onto the street and was followed 10 to 15 seconds later by a much larger explosion, which caused most of the destruction. The near-simultaneous attacks increased the lethality of the bombings, which targeted mainly Western tourists.
Secondary attacks have two or more stages of attack. The first one draws in emergency responders, regardless of the extent of deaths and injuries. In the second, the responders themselves become the target and include not only law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical personnel but civilian Good Samaritans as well.
Targeting responders serves two main purposes. First, it threatens to delay or deny treatment to victims from the first stage of the attack, increasing the likelihood of death and the severity of injuries. Second, killing, injuring, or otherwise hindering responders exacer-bates the public's feelings of fear and helplessness by demonstrating the vulnerability of society's guardians. To the extent that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental disorder that follows an occurrence of extreme psychological stress, such as that encountered in war or resulting from violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or serious accident. result from both the trauma and the perceived powerlessness to influence events and outcomes, this type of attack might make such reactions more likely among responders and the public alike.
The Provisional IRA Noun 1. Provisional IRA - a militant organization of Irish nationalists who used terrorism and guerilla warfare in an effort to drive British forces from Northern Ireland and achieve a united independent Ireland often used secondary devices. (5) Similarly, two bombings in 1997--one at a clinic in suburban Atlanta that provided abortions and one at an Atlanta gay nightclub--also involved the use of secondary devices. (6)
Multiple Dispersed Attacks
Dispersed attacks, like the other two types of coordinated assaults, seek to expand the extent and spread of damage and fear. When carried out within the same jurisdiction, they also threaten to exhaust response resources more quickly, which, as in the case of secondary attacks, could lead to delays in treatment or an increase in fear due to the perception of responders being overwhelmed.
The scope of the spread in dispersed attacks determines their impact on local responding agencies. Thus, for example, the crash of hijacked United Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania Shanksville is a borough in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, United States, with a population of 245, as of the 2000 census. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Pittsburgh Tri-State. , on September 11, 2001, taxed the responders in that and neighboring communities, but did not pull local responders from New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , where they were needed to respond to the attacks on the World Trade Center. (7) If planes were forced down in two locations on opposite sides of the same city, however, that city would have to divide its resources or rely more heavily on mutual aid.
Attacks carried out across jurisdictions or operational areas (or even across countries) create more political-strategic than local-tactical dispersion effects. The multiplicity of al-Qaeda's assaults on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 (across countries) and of the ones of September 2001 (across states), for example, demonstrated to the world that al Qaeda could plan and execute highly lethal, near-simultaneous operations, hundreds of miles apart, against the world's most powerful country. In both of these cases, the group had multiple tactical targets but only one strategic target--the United States. Al-Qaeda's capability undoubtedly earned the group political capital both in terms of being taken seriously by the international community and for recruitment purposes around the world.
Al Qaeda and the groups it has inspired continue to rely on dispersed attacks, as evidenced in the May 2003 incidents in Morocco and Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. . (8) These were at once dispersed across and within countries. The incidents in these two countries were dispersed in each--five simultaneous assaults in Casablanca and three simultaneous ones in Riyadh.
Other terrorist groups have carried out multiple dispersed attacks. The Hizbullah bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks bar·rack 1
tr.v. bar·racked, bar·rack·ing, bar·racks
To house (soldiers, for example) in quarters.
1. A building or group of buildings used to house military personnel. and French military headquarters on October 23, 1983, killed 241 and 58, respectively. (9) Almost a decade later, in the spring of 1993, the Provisional IRA executed a number of dispersed assaults, including the firebombing Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire from a incendiary device, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs. of two department stores This is a list of department stores. In the case of department store groups the location of the flagship store is given. This list does not include large specialist stores, which sometimes resemble department stores. , the hijacking hijacking
Crime of seizing possession or control of a vehicle from another by force or threat of force. Although by the late 20th century hijacking most frequently involved the seizure of an airplane and its forcible diversion to destinations chosen by the air pirates, when and bombing of a pair of taxis in London, and the placing of bombs in trash cans a block apart to target those fleeing the first blast. (10) The March 20, 1995, Aum Shinrikyo AUM Shinrikyo
(Japanese; “AUM Supreme Truth”)
Japanese new religious movement founded by Asahara Shoko (b. 1955 as Matsumoto Chizuo) in 1987. It contained elements of Hinduism and Buddhism and was founded on the millenarian expectation of a series of sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway The Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, usually referred to in the Japanese media as the Subway Sarin Incident (地下鉄サリン事件 , which killed 12 and injured more than 1,000, also comprised multiple dispersed incidents. (11) The attackers released gas via crude dispersal mechanisms simultaneously on five different subway cars on three separate lines.
Hoaxes also can cause fear and panic in a population, and terrorists have used simultaneous multiple dispersed hoaxes to create trouble for emergency responders. In January 2004, terrorists contacted law enforcement personnel in Belfast, Northern Ireland Northern Ireland: see Ireland, Northern.
Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Area: 5,461 sq mi (14,144 sq km). Population (2001): 1,685,267. , indicating that they had placed multiple car bombs around the city. (12) The subsequent response to the calls strained the responder community and locked down traffic throughout the city. Given the credible threat, local law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA) is a term used to describe any agency which enforces the law. This may be a local or state police, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). had no choice but to respond.
Probably due to ease of planning and manufacture, the individual-component portions within coordinated incidents have tended to be of the same type, such as simultaneous or subsequent pipe bombs, car bombs, or suicide bombers. Little reason exists to believe that this trend will continue, especially in light of some recent examples of mixed-type attacks.
On December 1, 2001, just yards from where the triple-suicide bombing took place in Jerusalem more than 4 years earlier, Hamas carried out a double-suicide bombing, followed approximately 20 minutes later by a car bomb. (13) Eleven people were killed and approximately 180 were wounded in the combined explosions. This one proves noteworthy not only because it provides an example of different means being used in the same assault but also because it demonstrates that the types of coordinated attacks can be combined. The two suicide bombers made this a parallel device attack, while the car bomb turned it into a secondary one as well. Clearly, the categories described are not mutually exclusive Adj. 1. mutually exclusive - unable to be both true at the same time
incompatible - not compatible; "incompatible personalities"; "incompatible colors" .
Another mixed-type and mixed-category attack is the simultaneous al-Qaeda suicide and car bombings of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya (parallel devices), which occurred at the same time as the attempted shooting down of an Israeli 757 jetliner in the same city (dispersed attacks) on November 28, 2002. (14) While the aircraft emerged undamaged, 13 people were killed and approximately 80 were injured in the hotel bombings.
Coordinated attacks are not a new phenomenon. However, their increasing frequency makes it worth reviewing some of the implications for local responding agencies.
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities. Equipment and Personnel
The potential for coordinated attacks means that local responders must have the capability to respond to multiple incidents at multiple locations. Positioning equipment and personnel in a central site might make organizational sense, but could turn into a liability in the event that attacks occur at opposite extremes of the operational area or if the equipment or personnel themselves become targets.
Resist Deploying All Resources
Agencies may find it tempting, especially in the face of a first terrorist attack, to "hyper-respond," sending everyone and everything to the incident site. But, they should resist this temptation for two reasons. First, secondary attacks could target responders and equipment. It is prudent to hold some back (though obviously not to the detriment of necessary patient care or public safety) in anticipation of such an occurrence. Second, dispersed attacks or other types of routine emergencies will demand responders elsewhere. As is the case with any mass-casualty event, rapid availability of mutual aid remains critical.
Plan, Exercise, and Train
Local responders know well the importance of prior planning and frequent and realistic training and exercises for making complex technical procedures a matter of habit. In this regard, responding to coordinated assaults is no different from reacting to any other type of emergency. Responders' actions reflect the extent to which they have prepared and trained for such occurrences. Moreover, as response to hazardous device assaults involves fire and rescue, emergency medical, law enforcement, and other agencies, all must train together for coordinated attack scenarios.
With this in mind, local agencies should add coordinated attack response "playbooks" to their emergency operations plans. Alternatively, they could include coordinated attack scenarios in other existing playbooks for similar situations. Agencies should rigorously practice the new procedures so responders at all levels become thoroughly familiar with them.
Coordinated attack response planning and training should address command-level issues as well. Emergency response agencies should consider such questions as whether to designate single or multiple incident commanders at the dispersed locations and how best to allocate and coordinate limited resources among multiple attack sites.
Protect the Force
It is difficult to know in advance whether secondary attacks will occur. An attack followed by a secondary one appears the same as a single assault until responders recognize that they have become the target. Therefore, responders must assume that terrorists will attempt one. This puts a premium on force protection, a role that falls primarily to law enforcement officials who can take a number of simple but crucial steps at the scene to help deter or prevent secondary attacks. These include establishing a secure perimeter far enough from the locus of the first assault to allow responders to do their jobs safely; sweeping for secondary devices; and monitoring, photographing, and interviewing bystanders, among whom might be eyewitnesses and terrorist spotters. Of importance, force protection, while essentially a law enforcement function, cannot be properly executed without the cooperation of and coordination with fire and rescue, emergency medical, and other responding agencies.
Along with the recent increase in coordinated attacks has come a corresponding rise in fatalities and injuries. Terrorists feel the need to create ever greater impact on their targeted societies, and coordinated assaults bring both added lethality and "newsworthiness." Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group attacking in this manner. Terrorists around the world are learning from each other's successes and adopting and refining this tactic. For emergency responders, coordinated attacks bring not only greater danger to the public they serve but also the potential that responders themselves may be targeted. To mitigate the effects of such incidents, law enforcement agencies and other local responders must incorporate coordinated attack scenarios into their planning, training, and deployment.
(1) Lawrence Wright Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and a current fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. , "The Terror Web," The New Yorker, August 2, 2004; retrieved on August 5, 2004, from http://www.newyorker.com.
(2) Pre-2001 data from Chris Quillen, "Mass Casualty Bombings Chronology," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 25 (2002): 293-302.
(3) Serge Schmemann Serge Schmemann (born April 12, 1945) is a writer and Editorial Page Editor of the International Herald Tribune. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Associated Press and was a bureau chief and editor for the New York Times. , "Bombings in Jerusalem: The Overview," New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times, September 7, 1997, sec. Al; and MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base The MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (TKB) is an online portal containing information on terrorist incidents, leaders, groups, and related court cases. TKB is sponsored by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), a non-profit organization funded by the United ; retrieved on August 4, 2004, from http://www.tkb.org/Incident.jsp?incID=2340.
(4) U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism Patterns of Global Terrorism is a report published each year on or before April 30 by the United States Department of State. The Secretary of State is required by Congress to produce detailed assessments about
(5) George Buck Sir George Buck, or Buc (1560 – 1622) was an antiquarian who served as Master of the Revels to King James I of England.
George Buck was educated at the Middle Temple, and served on the successful Cádiz expedition of 1596 under Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. , Preparing for Terrorism: An Emergency Services emergency services Emergency care '…services …necessary to prevent death or serious impairment of health and, because of the danger to life or health, require the use of the most accessible hospital available and equipped to furnish those services' Guide (Albany, NY: Delmar, 2002), 18; and Owen Bowcott, "Soldier Dies as IRA Ira, in the Bible
Ira (ī`rə), in the Bible.
1 Chief officer of David.
3 Two of David's guard.
IRA. Bombers Ambush Patrol," The Guardian, February 10, 1993, 2.
(6) John Harmon, "Terrorism: It's Getting Less Disciplined, More Dangerous," Cox News Service, March 31, 1999.
(7) This does not include federal resources, which could be a different matter.
(8) "Bombs Kill at Least 20 in Downtown Casablanca," CNN.com, May 19, 2003; retrieved on August 4, 2004, from http://www.cnn CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. .com/2003/WORLD/africa/05/16/morocco.blasts/; and "U.S., Saudis Suspect al Qaeda in Riyadh Blasts," CNN.com, May 13, 2002; retrieved on August 5, 2004, from http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/05/12saudi.blast/.
(9) Audrey Kurth Cronin, CRS CRS Course
CRS Certified Residential Specialist (real estate certification)
CRS Central Reservation System
CRS Can't Remember Stuff (polite form)
CRS Cost Reduction Strategy
CRS Consumer Relations Specialist Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a branch of the Library of Congress that provides objective, nonpartisan research, analysis, and information to assist Congress in its legislative, oversight, and representative functions. U.S. , Terrorists and Suicide Attacks, August 28, 2003; retrieved on February 2, 2004, from http://www.mipt MIPT Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism
MIPT Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
MIPT Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism
MIPT Male Iron Pipe Thread .org/pdf/CRS_RL32058.pdf.
(10) "Bombs Set Shops Ablaze," Daily Mail, May 10, 1993, 5; "Hijacked Drivers Chose to Risk Death," The Times, April 27, 1993; and Ronald Faux, "Warrington Weeps for Lives Shattered by IRA Bombers," The Times, March 22, 1993.
(11) Many sources list over 5,000 injured in this attack. However, around 4,000 of those were diagnosed as "worried well."
(12) Claire Regan, "UDA (Universal Data Access) An umbrella term from Microsoft for its combined set of standards for file and database access. UDA includes ODBC, ADO, OLE DB and RDS. See ODBC, ADO, OLE DB and RDS. Blamed for Hoax Alerts," Belfast Telegraph, January 16, 2004.
(13) Lee Hockstader, "Two Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 10 in Jerusalem: Attacks, Nearby Car Blast Wound 170 in Heart of City," Washington Post, December 2, 2001, sec. A1.
(14) Emily Wax, "Suicide Bombers Kill 12 at Resort in Kenya: Hotel Hosted Israelis, Missiles Fired Nearby at Plane," Washington Post, November 29, 2002, sec. A1.
By BRIAN K. HOUGHTON, Ph.D., and JONATHAN M. SCHACHTER, Ph.D.
Dr. Houghton is the director of research at the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma “OKC” redirects here. For the airport, see Will Rogers World Airport.
Oklahoma City is the capital of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city is the 30th largest city in the U.S. .
Dr. Schachter is a lecturer at Northwestern University Northwestern University, mainly at Evanston, Ill.; coeducational; chartered 1851, opened 1855 by Methodists. In 1873 it absorbed Evanston College for Ladies. in Evanston, Illinois.
The statements in this article reflect the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the organizations with which they are affiliated.