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Attacks on US soil, real and virtual: the Summer Olympics as target

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It has been said that an attack on the Summer Olympics is as good as an attack on US soil due to the American public's attachment to, and interest in, the games. If that is the case, it will be a miracle that an Olympics incident can be prevented. Consider the following:

  1. Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups are much more of an operational force in Europe than in the US
  2. Information sharing among nations still has holes (and the sharing within Germany between police and intelligence as strictures dating back to the early postwar period)
  3. Greece and Italy are the traditional European "underbellies" when it comes to illegal entry into the EU from outside the region
  4. Lax immigration and unchecked access from neighboring Albania and Macedonia
  5. Greece has just had a change of party leadership (the New Democracy Party ousting the Socialists) further creating communications and organizational gaps.
  6. Large IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and chemical weapons, or their principal components, have been interdicted in the UK and continental Europe
  7. Major IEDs have already been detonated to devastating effect in immediately adjacent Turkey
  8. A radiological "dirty bomb" is merely an IED with an isotopic piggyback and those are being stolen nearly at will in Eastern Europe
  9. One or more bombs, of any kind, do not have to be detonated within the Olympic grounds per se
  10. European Muslim populations (notably France) have large numbers of sympathizers
  11. Advanced cellphone detonated devices have already been used in the Madrid Atocha train bombing
  12. All prepositioned sleeper support and surveillance cells must be on alert or already in motion
  13. There must be prepositioned weapons and explosives caches for a "mission of need"
  14. Prepaid, untraceable cellphones are the norm rather than the exception as in the US
  15. A massive, distributed repair and construction program has been underway in Greece to prepare the Olympic facilities, which in itself is a superb means to preposition weapons and equipment within one or more Olympic facilities.
  16. The supply chain of contractors, sub-contractors, and employees make a daunting security issue, not to mention the extra on-demand contract and substitute workers
  17. Construction is now being rushed on innumerable fronts thereby creating untold avenues for one or more undetected ingress-egress preparations, surveillance, and prepositioning
  18. Things rarely work correctly the first time so there will be ample calls for repairmen and technicians, all in a hurry, of course
  19. Having a security system is quite different from having skilled, seasoned security staff able to operate that system "under load" and respond to its errors and outages in real-time
  20. If al Qaeda has an interest in the Olympics, they are already inside Greece

A massive security exercise named Hercules Shield involving US and Greek troops is underway to simulate scenarios as wide as a radiological device and a ship hijacking (but if a ship is taken I think that it will be a sinking not a hijacking).

Both the US and France are contributing funds to ready security measures in time for the 13 August opening ceremony. In order not to scare away US and other visitors as well as to not draw the attention of Congress, US funds for these efforts are not being debated as they do not require Congressional approval.

Athens 2004 - the race to be ready
Story from BBC SPORT
Published: 2004/05/05 07:37:12 GMT

Greek and US forces in Olympics drill
Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2004/03/10 17:00:46 GMT

Work delays fuel worries on security at Olympics
Charles M. Sennott The Boston Globe
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
IHT

The race to secure Athens
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
Posted 2/23/2004 5:29 PM Updated 2/25/2004 11:00 AM

Gordon Housworth



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