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Is the U.S. next?

Is the U.S. Next?

WHY SHOULD AMERICANS BE concerned about terrorism in the United States? The number of victims of terrorist incidents is really a very small percentage of the number killed through traffic accidents or violent crime. In some countries it's less than one percent of that figure. Those killed by terrorists--most of them business executives, diplomats, law enforcement personnel, or security people--knew the risks attached to their jobs. So why worry about terrorism?

Why? Because terrorism is not simply a percentage of victims. In every terrorist activity the purpose is to kill democracy and replacement it with a dictatorship. Nothing is more important than freedom and democracy. These are the two principles that we all have to fight to preserve. We must realize this and be prepared.

Terrorism effects all of us. Who is responsible for the necessity of airline passengers arriving two, sometimes three hours at the airport in advance of international flights? Terrorists. Who is responsible for the billions of dollars the United States spends to protect its overseas missions? Terrorists. Who is more or less responsible for US policy in the Middle East? Terrorists. Who forced the United States out of Lebanon? Terrorists. Who kept diplomats and innocent Americans hostage in their own embassy without respecting any international rule, law, or convention? Terrorists. Who can force a president or prime minister to negotiate directly with terrorists? Terrorists. I can go on and on.

Amercians are the number one target in terrorism--national and international. They are also number one on the list of terrorist victims. There is nothing really strange about all this. As the number one country and the sheriff of the world, the United States can expect some criticism, problems, and resistance.

Also, recall the recent terrorist incidents abroad: the US marines in Lebanon, the Achille Lauro and the TWA hijackings, and the Pan Am crash in Lockerbie, Scotland. The victims of those incidents included Americans.

As americans abroad begin to protect themselves and subsequently become more difficult targets, terrorists may come to the United States to look for easier targets--men or women in the streets. If the purpose of the terrorists is to kill Americans--and for some it is the only purpose--what is easier than to come to the United States and plant a bomb in a car or in the metro?

Take, for example, your daily schedule. You wake up at 6 am, take the train in to work at 7 am, and are at the office by 8 am. In the evening, you take the 5 pm train and are home by 6 pm.

Suddenly, one day a terrorist group begins a bombing campaign on the railway station. The first few days it's rather exciting--the station evacuations, police sirens and searches, and road blocks. However, the thrill is gone after several people have their cars damaged due to the searches, and you've missed irrplaceable time at work and at home due to rail delays, not to mention the stress and worry it has caused your loved ones.

You get mad at the system. The rail delays and police searches three of four times a day make you feel as if you're living in a police state. Now, instead of supporting the police you begin to hate them. This is the terrorists' objective. The terrorist recruiters start their job to convince people of the government's unfairness.

The United States will always have enemies. If you are the ally of one country, you are automatically the enemy of another. Countries engaged in terrorism are not militarily strong enough to win a war against the United States. They will never openly declare war, but they can fight the United States in other ways; every country has its weak spot.

The United States is a very open coutry. Anything can be published: books on how security is organized, how counterterrorism units are trained, how to make bombs, etc. As long as only the people whom these books are meant for read these publications there will be not problem. When terrorist organizations pursue this literature, however, there will be problems.

Suppose somewhere in the world a terrorist group kills Americans. Immediately there is media coverage including eyewitness accounts and interviews of the family members of the victims. Sensationalist journalists would probably want to interview the terrorists. Such openness could serve to the detriment of the nation's security.

There are many steps the United States can take against terrorism, but the most important defense is intelligence. The better you know your enemies, the better you can fight them.

Defense can begin on an individual level. Be prepared. Go to seminars on terrorism and talk to people who have worked in countries where terrorists live and are active.

To build a strong defense against terrorism on the national level, the United States should develop a specific counterterrorism policy and unit. A counterterrorism policy should be adopted and include a range a directives including instructions not to deal or negotiate with terrorists or take prisoners. Also, journalists should be required to be more self-censored, to report facts without giving publicity to the terrorists. Personal freedom is one thing, the freedom of a nation is another.

A counterterrorism unit should be formed and specifically involved with intelligence gathering, disinformation, and seeking out those responsible for the death of US citizens. The unit should also require the full cooperation and assistance of law enforcement groups such as SWAT teams, Delta Force, and the Green Berets. Among other topics, the necessary preparation for personnel in this unit should involve training in languages, history, counterfeiting, photography, disguise, and surveilance.

Terrorism is not war; it's worse. There is not declaration of battle, no well-defined territory, no well-defined enemy, no general or prime minister with whom to negotiate. Terrorists do not respect conventions, rules, or laws. But terrorism can be defeated by hard work. We must fight it with secrecy and the appropriate weapons. Freedom is priceless.
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Title Annotation:terrorism
Author:Dermaut, Johan
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1989
Words:993
Previous Article:The interim security clearance.
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