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"Amazed" police have lost the asymmetrical battle

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Smart mob: "Mobile communication devices, peer to peer methods, and a computation-pervaded environment are making it possible for groups of people to organize collective actions on a scale never before possible."

The failure of an established authority, police in this case, to anticipate the threat level and force projection presented by football hooligans in terms of C3 (Command, Control, & Communication) tools and techniques was driven home in Denmark as Copenhagen Police were "amazed by the professional methods that some hooligan groups have adopted":

They plan in detail how to avoid the police and how to attack the visiting fans. The entire planning pattern is surprising - in many cases they use veritable intelligence tactics.

As Dutch non-violent "roligans" give way to more UK-like football hooligans, the tradecraft employed has transmuted into a capacity that would have put the police at a severe disadvantage had they been the direct target. These hooligans:

  • Made use of the internet to coordinate activities
  • Used closed web sites to plan of clashes
  • Used private vehicles as rolling command posts to spot the positions of rival hooligans and police units.
  • Competed against each other in a "Hooli-League"
  • Coordinated efforts by rival Danish hooligans in clashes with other Scandinavians groups

It was further cold comfort that "about 400 people were associated with the most hard-core groups," i.e., right-wing racist groups. One could easily view these football hooligan tactics as a dress rehearsal for actions against police and authority.

Worse, the police were apparently unaware that an everyman's C3 "is becoming increasing inexpensive to the point that cell phones, pagers, and PDAs can produce human events of amazing speed." In June 2004, I noted in Vengeful flash mobs that:

As tools become more pervasive, the flash mob will mutate into a smart mob and then police, constabularies, peace keeping, and occupation forces will have their hands full in dealing with an opponent that likely has faster, flatter communications than they do.

In Prison populations: a flash mob to be reckoned with, I describe how "The prison smart mob is closer that we think" and that "Prison guards will be outclassed." Why are not police more aware of nontraditional, asymmetrical responses?

I was equally dismayed when an "NBC analyst and retired military intelligence officer" could voice astonishment over the video, The Explosive Belt for Martyrdom Operations, that "The most disturbing thing about this video is that it exists." The 'expert' should have been predicting it as there had been much precedent in sophisticated internet and multimedia usage by insurgent groups.

Israel had assumed a far greater atomization and fracturing isolation of Palestinian areas by virtue of its curfews and roadblocks that was the case.  Palestinians used the internet to break the Israeli siege and lockdowns, i.e., Internet usage became a practical necessity for Palestinian security and political matters. (Prior to the uprising, some 2 to 3% of Palestinians used the Internet in 2000 but by mid-2003, the figure was 8%, far ahead of Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.):

  • Local communities reconnected regional nerve ends by connecting people and villages under Israeli lockdowns. Internet activity spiked in parallel with the severity of Israeli travel restrictions
  • News isolation ended with easily available feeds from the US, Europe, the Mideast, and Israel, notably its liberal daily Haaretz
  • Ineffectual local media was displaced
  • Use of, and reliance on, online services, e.g., banking and business communication, and distance learning soared in order to circumvent Israeli restrictions
  • Thoughtful Palestinians established an environment that tempted radicalized youth into informational pursuits

Organized states, the 'authority powers', habitually perceive their irregular or nonstate adversaries to possess less technology than is the case, have less operational skill and tradecraft than is the case, and have less vision to integrate all into an effective, low cost, open-source counterforce. Authorities are often issued less capable technology than what is available as COTS technology, and too often rely on the 'functions as issued' rather than being inventive. COTS hardware such as PDAs, phones, et al, is already widely dispersed as facile 'dual-use technology' in the irregular groups. Authorities forget this at their peril.

Organized Hooligans Amaze Police
Copenhagen Post
11 Mar 2005

Terrorist Website Drops Dirty Bomb
Saad Al-Matrafi, Arab News
11, March, 2005

Web video teaches terrorists to make bomb vest
By Lisa Myers & the NBC investigative unit
Dec. 22, 2004
MSNBC

Palestinians turn to Internet to cope with Israeli restrictions
By Josef Federman
The Associated Press
11/18/2003

Gordon Housworth



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