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Katrina as an "incident of national significance" puts the lie to DHS scenario planning for terrorist event preparation

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The president's Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5 directed the development of a new National Response Plan (NRP) to "align Federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management." One wonders where that plan was when Katrina struck New Orleans and within a day had caused the Doomsday Scenario that flooded the city, paralyzing the break in bulk point for crops descending the Mississippi and the hub of pipelines feeding gas and oil northward. Yes, it was invoked this week by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, but wonders what took so long given that the city's levees:

aren't intended to protect from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane (a 5 has winds greater than 155 mph and storm surges above 18 feet), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is at least a decade away from upgrading to that level of protection. The corps says the current levee system doesn't provide full protection from even Category 3 storms, which could be the scariest scenario of all. "If a Category 5 storm enters the Gulf, I don't think we'll have to encourage people to leave--it'll be an easy sell," says New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. Category 3 or 4 storms, though, "are more dangerous . . . the community says, 'We might ride this out.'"

Two of the greatest asymmetric attack prizes in the US are the ports of Houston (as a petrochemical trove waiting to be ignited) and New Orleans (as the center of navigation of materials moving up and down the Mississippi River which Friedman describes as the point where "bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in"). While the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port that services supertankers in the Gulf of Mexico is operational and Port Fourchon that serves energy extraction operations in the Gulf can be recovered, the manpower and supporting infrastructure that mans so much of the bulk goods and energy extraction and transport has been disabled and dispersed.

One wonders where was the federal government once it became clear that on D-Day +1 the levees were compromised and the city was to be flooded. The perils of the loss of New Orleans have been known for some time in many quarters in state, federal and scientific literature.

I am habitually critical of large federal scenario-based exercises, especially those in homeland defense against terrorism as they:

  • Confuse defining consequences with detection, prevention and interdiction
  • Exhibit difficulties as they grow in scope, complexity and political visibility

Politically mandated scenarios tend to mirror the exercises of the commercial power industry in which overly-broad scenarios too often see their operating parameters constrained to maximize the chances of success ("rigged" has appeared in private correspondence) with results "adjusted" to achieve success. Deprived of a systematic threat analysis and response this truncated process never allows the system's flaws to be fully identified and so lulls the defender into a state of undeserved comfort. As we like to say, an asymmetric attacker will not be as kind. Neither was Katrina.

Our typical federal scenarios do not have senators verbally upbraided for their obtuseness as CNN's Anderson Cooper did to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu in asking her, "Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?" After Landrieu had offered the obligatory gruel of the seriousness of the situation, issued thanks to former presidents "for their strong statements of support and comfort", to "all the leaders that are coming [to] our help and rescue"' to the "military assets that are being brought to bear", and Congress for passing a "$10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating"' Cooper cut her off at the knees (you should really watch the video) with this comment:

Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here?

Our typical federal scenarios do not have heads of FEMA dismembered for their ineptitude as Nightline's Ted Koppel did to Michael Brown (video) posing questions such as:

Koppel: I've heard you say during the course of a number of interviews that you found out about the convention center today. Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.

Koppel: Here we are essentially FIVE DAYS after the storm hit and you're talking about what's going to happen in the next couple of days.... You didn't make preparations for what was going to happen in the event that [a category four storm hit]. Why didn't you?

Our typical federal scenarios do not have a Secretary of Department of Homeland Security grilled relentlessly as Robert Siegel did to Michael Chertoff. Chertoff is an accomplished individual but I had difficulty in accepting his premise that Katrina was a "double catastrophe" of hurricane followed by flood. With all due respect, a major hurricane against New Orleans IS a flood, i.e., a single catastrophe that would form the core of recovery of the city and the surrounding region.

Our scenario planning would be the better if the above bits or realism were inserted and the interviewees evaluated on the outcomes.

I consider the failure to respond to the debacle at New Orleans with other 'federal realism' scenarios that exhibit adjusted conditions to encourage success yet repeatedly reinforce the failure of command and coordination, the overwhelming of hospitals and first responders, and the gulf in both inter- and intra-agency coordination:

  • The 1994 "Mirage Gold" exercise played out a scenario in which a fictitious militia, Patriots for National Unity, threatened to explode a nuclear bomb in New Orleans. While the test's organizers claimed that the bomb was found and defused, a later report by Rear Admiral Charles J. Beers Jr., then Department of Energy's (DOE) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Applications and Stockpile Support (DASMASS), found the exercise "conducted in a manner to 'stack the deck' in favor of unrealistic success," e.g., the game's players were "inappropriately leaked" information about the bomb's location and technical features. The reality was that the New Orleans was lost. (A private refrain among Counterterrorism (CT) practitioners is that is difficult to gain a realistic assessment in any politically mandated or politically important exercise as those who conduct the exercise will not fail. After Action Reports (AARs), if performed, can also suffer in such circumstances.)
  • Congress had since mandated exercises "designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from large-scale terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)." The first was the 2000 ''Operation Topoff,'' (for "Top Officials" and now called TOPOFF 2000) simulating three simultaneous terrorist strikes: chemical weapons in Portsmouth, New Hampshire., biological weapons in Denver, Colorado, and a dirty bomb in Washington, D.C. As with Mirage Gold, TOPOFF 2000 was an extremely complex scenario set up in a way to maximize the chances of success, e.g., prior to a supposedly `no-notice' exercise, the FBI leased 11 T-1 phone lines and installed them in an empty warehouse planned for use as a command post.
  • The 2003 TOPOFF 2 involved a fictional terrorist group, GLODO, carrying out a simultaneous attack again Chicago using pneumonic plague and Seattle using a radiological bomb. (GLODO had clandestine bioweapons labs in each city.) The difficulty with this exercise, and those who planned it, is that whoever GLODO is modeled on, it is not al Qaeda.
  • The 2005 TOPOFF 3 involved interruption and possible compromise of planned terrorist attacks in the New York and Boston metropolitan areas, causing the terrorists to accelerate their schedule; Simultaneously the vehicle-based improvised explosive device (VBIED) chemical weapon containing mustard gas meant for Boston is executed in New London, Connecticut, while the vehicle-based biological agent dispersal device employing pneumonic plague meant for New York is executed in the Union and Middlesex Counties of New Jersey.

Each TOPOFF looked for command and coordination issues. ICG's research into the series showed a predominance to repeat prior results, i.e., what we learn in each city of each TOPOFF event is that the diseases are fearsome, hospitals and first responders are overwhelmed, interagency and intra-agency coordination is pummeled while communications in the form of multiple control centers, numerous liaisons, and increasing numbers of response teams merely complicate the emergency response effort.

If we actually learned these lessons, how could we let Katrina get so far ahead of us?

Part 2

Convoy Bearing Food, Water and Weapons Arrives in New Orleans
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER and MARIA NEWMAN
New York Times
September 2, 2005

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Special Edition: Hurricane Katrina
CNN
Aired September 1, 2005 - 19:00 ET

U.S. Aid Effort Criticized in New Orleans
by Robert Siegel
NPR
Sept 1, 2005

Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions
By Guy Gugliotta and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post
September 1, 2005

Newspaper That Had Warned Of Disaster Lives Own Prophecy
By JOE HAGAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
August 31, 2005

Big Blow in the Big Easy
By Dan Gilgoff
U.S. News And World Report
July 18, 2005

National Response Plan
Department of Homeland Security
December 2004

Analysis Planning for a Domestic Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction Exercise
Brian McCue with Christine A. Hughes, Kathleen M. Ward
The CNA Corporation
Alexandria, Virginia
(IPR) 10856/May 2003

Special Report: Washing Away
SPECIAL REPORT from THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
2002
Part 1 - In Harm's Way
Part 2 - The Big One
Part 3 - Exposure's Cost
Part 4 - Tempting Fate
Part 5 - Cost of Survival

For those wishing more fun with scenarios:

Bioterrorism Drill TOPOFF 2 -- Failing to think like al Qaeda & relearning old lessons
[ 3/18/2004]
Worldwide maritime interception, search, and destroy
[ 4/9/2004]
'Dirty Bomb' worries continue
[ 3/22/2004]
The danger of confusing terrorist interdiction with the consequences of terrorist action
[ 7/6/2005]

Gordon Housworth



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Aim for the head: in praise of Operation Kratos

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if lethal force is justified, all shots should be aimed at the bomber’s head—specifically, at the tip of the nose when facing the bomber, at the point of the ear canal from the side, or about one inch below the base of the skull from behind. An accurately placed head shot will terminate the bomber before he or she can take action to detonate the explosive device and will not accidentally set off the device. A fragmenting, high-velocity shot from a firearm such as an AR-15 at any of the above mentioned areas is ideal for immediately terminating the threat…

Police officers are trained to fire at center body mass. Using this tactic against suicide bombers is inappropriate for two reasons. First, it may only wound the bomber, and a wounded bomber may still detonate the device. While suicide bombers are not known to wear body armor, it has happened. Second, if a round hits the explosive device, it may detonate. Some explosives, such as smokeless powder, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP)—a highly sensitive primary explosive manufactured from common chemicals such as acetone, peroxide—and acid (used by Palestinian bombers), and those that contain nitroglycerine, are sensitive to heat, shock, and friction.

Such is the standing advisory of the International Association of Chiefs of Police dealing with suicide bombers, i.e., if lethal force is justified or authorized, aim for the head. The magnitude of neutralizing a suicide bomber threat is effectively binary. Tasers or similar electronic control weapons cannot be used against suspected suicide bombers as these devices can detonate the bomber's explosives. Police cannot fire at the bomber's center body mass as they may wound the bomber who can still detonate the explosives or police fire may directly detonate the explosives. (Nothing is certain in life as some factions also attach a backup cellphone triggering device in case the bomber has second thoughts, but terminating the bomber may limit his or her ingress to a high value area.)

To understand how problematic, even dangerous, to shoot at center body mass, one need only to look at the design of a suicide vest or belt (also here). These devices cover the entire central torso area front and back while the location of the detonator(s) is unknown as is the type, location and number of triggering devices. Suicide vests are also becoming flatter which robs an observer of a visual cue that the suspect is wearing a belt. Newer belts are what I call 'Armani belts' in that they are fabricated with formfitting panels of C-4 and flexible panels of ball bearings encased in elastic potting compounds. It is well worth watching the two videos here and here to see the current state of the art in vest design.

The shooting of the Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, was described by an English press and public unaware of the unarticulated policy of Operation Kratos put into effect after the 11 September events in the US as being "gunned down execution-style -- seven bullets to the head, one to the shoulder."

It was john Lord Stevens, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who discreetly instituted the Kratos "shoot-to-kill-to-protect" policy into UK anti-terrorist procedures in 2003 while serving as Commissioner of the Met, after sending teams to Israel and Sri Lanka to study their methods of disabling suicide bombers:

Previously, the standing instructions in firearms incidents was for officers to fire at the offender's body, usually two shots, to disable and overwhelm. But I sent teams to Israel, and other countries hit by suicide bombers, where we learned a terrible truth. There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber determined to fulfil his mission: Destroy his brain instantly, utterly. Which means shooting him with devastating power in the head. Anywhere else and even though they might be dying, they may still be able to force their body to trigger the device. Now the revelation that the man killed on Friday by an armed police officer was, in fact, innocent of any bombing intent may lead some to seriously question that policy. But we are living in unique times of unique evil, at war with an enemy of unspeakable brutality, and I have no doubt that now, more than ever, the principle is right despite the chance, tragically, of error. And it would be a huge mistake for anyone to even consider rescinding it. [See note below on citation for Shooting to kill saves lives.]

The US Capitol Police was the first police unit in the US to adopt a shoot-to-kill policy if its officers are confronted with a suicide bomber:

Last year [2004], [US Capitol Police Chief Terrance] Gainer retrained his officers to shoot to kill when faced with a suspected suicide bomber who is uncooperative and refuses to stop and be searched. Other law enforcement officials say they are debating the issue and might follow his lead if there is a suicide bombing in this country.

Gainer also retrained his officers after visiting Israel during which he and other chiefs traveled with the Police Executive Research Forum for week-long counterterrorism schooling from Israeli officers familiar with confronting Palestinian suicide bombers. Sari Horwitz penned a useful summary of the information on offer from these trips.

No doubt that adopting the IACP head shot guideline is another Hobson's choice, but I believe that the first occurrence of a suicide bomber on US soil will stampede US police units into adopting the guideline. Unless police units want their officers killed as collateral damage they need to develop clear directives for addressing suicide bombers and train for it now. Beyond creating martyrs for the constituency from which a terrorist group recruits, suicide bombings can be expected to remain with us for the foreseeable future as they have advantages over normal terrorist bombings:

  • The device is precisely delivered to the target
  • Harder targets can be attacked
  • The device has no window of vulnerability (can't be rendered safe or relocated)
  • No planned egress is required
  • No one is left alive to interrogate (terrorist group's OpSec, operational security, is preserved)
  • No burden of wounded comrades exists
  • The "horror factor" increases the psychological impact (along with distrust and anxiety)
  • Blood-borne pathogens can be delivered (by body fragments from a suicide bomber infected with a secondary disease)

I agree with terrorism experts such as Bruce Hoffman at RAND who noted that "The police standard operating procedure of addressing a suspect and telling them to drop their weapon and put their hands up or freeze is not going to work with a suicide bomber… You're signing your own death warrant if you do that."

Police Chiefs Group Bolsters Policy on Suicide Bombers
By Sari Horwitz
Washington Post
August 4, 2005

London police defend 'shoot to kill’ policy
International Relations and Security Network (ISN)
Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich)
27 July 2005

Shooting to kill saves lives..one tragedy will not change that
By Lord Stevens, former Commissioner of the Met
News of the World
July 24, 2005
This item is the original
article, one of a series that John (Lord) Stevens authors for the popular tabloid News of the World, from which many subsequent articles excerpted bits.  It has scrolled off the front page. One can look here and here for bits.

From truncheon to head shot, the British Bobby tackles a new world
AFP/Yahoo
Mon Jul 25, 5:24 AM ET

Middle-class bombers find DIY 'martyr belt' online
Times (UK)
July 17, 2005

Israeli Experts Teach Police On Terrorism
Training Programs Prompt Policy Shifts
By Sari Horwitz
Washington Post
June 12, 2005

Top bobby is up against it within ranks
Sydney Morning Herald
By Alan Ramsey
Date: July 13 2005

TERROR.COM
Iraq's tech-savvy insurgents are finding supporters and luring suicide-bomber recruits over the Internet
Jonathan Curiel
San Francisco Chronicle
July 10, 2005

Suicide (Homicide) Bombers--Part II
Training Key 582
Robert J. Bunker
International Association of Chiefs of Police
2005

Suicide Bombings in Operation Iraqi Freedom
By Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan
The Institute of Land Warfare
ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY
No. 46W September 2004

Web video teaches terrorists to make bomb vest
Chilling video offers step-by-step suicide vest instructions
By Lisa Myers & the NBC investigative unit
MSNBC
Updated: 7:28 p.m. ET Dec. 22, 2004

TACTICS & TECHNIQUES OF SUICIDE/HOMICIDE BOMBERS
MARINE SAFETY BULLETIN
Volume III, Issue XXXVIII SEPT 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Iraqi cell networks: Friend and foe, part 2

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Part 1

Iraq's cell networks are a two edged sword:

Saddam Hussein outlawed cellphones [but] as Iraq catches up with the world's information revolution, cellphones have become as commonplace here as they are almost everywhere else in the world. Now, they are increasingly being used as battle tools -- to set off bombs from afar, to target fire and to provide insurgents with instant communications...

Cellphones [still] often provide more reliable communications than the fixed-line phone network, which was badly damaged in Baghdad by American bombing and subsequent looting in 2003. Most Iraqi cellphone users have prepaid cards that they can continually replenish...

fear of cellphones is so widespread that U.S. and Iraqi security guards routinely order civilians to remove the batteries from their phones before approaching checkpoints. Wireless technology has made insurgent groups much more effective. For example, a mortar-firing team miles away from its target can adjust its aim via cellphone contact with a spotter, who can see exactly where mortar shells have landed.

Iraqis now use multiple cellular networks such as Iraqna, a subsidiary of Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding SAE; Atheer Telecom, a company part-owned by Britain's Vodafone Group PLC; and a "separate, restricted cellphone network [open to US users and selected Iraqis] managed by MCI Inc. that uses the 914 area code of New York's Westchester County":

Iraq's cellular licenses, issued when the nation was governed by the U.S. occupation authority in 2003, divided the country into three monopoly areas, initially restricting Iraqna to Baghdad and central Iraq, cellphone company Asiacell to the northern part, and Atheer to southern regions. These limits were lifted last year, allowing competition. The three licenses expire at the end of 2005; authorities plan a conference in London starting today to discuss possible renewal.

The domestic networks have been routinely jammed by US forces during security sweeps and military operations with Iraqna apparently bearing the brunt of interruptions to the point that Iraqna has repeatedly taken jamming complaints to the Iraqi telecommunications ministry, asking for intercession with US authorities.

What I find most interesting is that the US is apparently shifting from jamming to more productive spoofing by erecting evil twin clones that "can trick legitimate [users] to connect to the attacker’s honeypot network by placing an unauthorized base station with a stronger signal within close proximity of the [cellular] clients that mimic a legitimate base station":

[At least once,] Iraqi investigators discovered a "clone" broadcast tower operating in central Baghdad that falsely identified itself as part of the Iraqna network. The result of such "intelligent jamming" was that all the phones in the area tried to abandon the real antenna and switch to the clone, causing a network overload and a massive disruption of service. Investigators have no proof that U.S. forces operated the clone antenna, but no one else in Iraq is believed to have the technical capability to do so. "We have good reason to believe that what Iraqna is saying is right" [says Nasi Abachi, the Iraqi telecommunications ministry's head of frequency management].

Whereas firms such as Iraqna state they "deliberately opted not to install equipment in the communications network that would have allowed it to track and store users' movements," a US clone could do precisely that, an even more stealthy effort than overloading the network.

Solutions can come none too soon as 14 marines were "killed early today when their troop carrier struck a gigantic roadside bomb in the western town of Haditha." Given the toll taken by roadside bombs and IEDs, even a modest reduction in casualties is welcome. And while there has been an overall reduction - but by no means elimination - in the number of remotely triggered IED attacks, it appears that the insurgents and the jihadists are adapting. The number of suicide bombers either on foot wearing a suicide vest or in a car laden with explosives (called a VBIED or Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) is rising. (One enterprising bomber with a vest ducked under a fuel truck, detonating the entire fuel load.) Cell networks may figure in the logistics and planning of such attacks but actual detonation is purely manual.

Iraq's Cellphone Battle
Service Provider Iraqna Tries To Meet Demand Despite Long Outages, Insurgent Use
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV and SARMAD ALI
WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 21, 2005

ATK Under Contract For Counter-IED Program
Space Daily
Minneapolis MN (SPX)
Jun 20, 2005

Army Buys 8,000 Jammers To Equip Troops
Agence France-Presse
March 18, 2005

Improvised Bombs Baffle Army
By Noah Shachtman
Wired News
02:00 AM Jan. 26, 2005 PT

Enemy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) and Recommendations
MAJ Eric O. Estep
Support Operations Plans
3rd COSCOM [Corps Suport Command]
LSA Anaconda, Iraq

MORE ON WARLOCK'S TRICKS
Defense Tech
November 22, 2004 09:42 AM

I.E.D. DEFENSE - NO LUCK YET
Defense Tech
September 28, 2004 12:16 AM

Gordon Housworth



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Iraqi cell networks: friend and foe

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Think of the difficulty of attempting to fight an insurgency skilled in asymmetric techniques not in a fully military environment where there is no expectation of noncombatants for sustaining and improving infrastructure, but in a hybrid military-commercial environment where there is an infrastructure, however limited, that the insurgents use to attack US forces even as US political goals seek to improve that infrastructure in order to move the local economy towards normalcy and self-sufficiency.

Think Iraq and its nascent cellular network (first appearing in Iraq in 2003) which is used for common commercial ends and by coalitions of Baathists and insurgents as both a Command, Control and Communications (C3) network and as a triggering mechanism to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs)., or IEDs:

Almost anything that blows up can be turned into an IED, from grenades to plastic explosives to leftover mines. The most everyday of electronics -- a cell phone, a garage door opener, a child's remote-control toy -- can be recast as a trigger. And the hiding places for the handmade bombs are everywhere: in the ground, aboard a truck, even inside an animal carcass.

Readers are directed to Enemy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) and Recommendations for a detailed description of the problems that US forces face in dealing with IEDs. Beyond death, severe injury and disruption of military operations, there is the palpable isolation that IEDs of all kinds bring to US forces in their attempt to engage civilian populations.

US forces are pursuing a multi-pronged approach to deal with IEDs:

  • Passive interruption of the cell call intended to detonate the IED
  • Active microwave focused beam tools that detonate the IED prior to approach of US forces
  • Interruption of Iraqi cell networks in specific areas of operation
  • Spoofing of Iraqi cell networks by the substitution of "evil twin" clones that presumably allow US forces to track timing of calls and GPS positioning of callers, functions that local Iraqi networks do not perform

Passive interruption commenced with the Warlock radio frequency jammers based on an earlier system designed to protect troops against proximity-fused weapons such as mortar shells. Warlock essentially works by "intercepting the signal sent from a remote location to the IED instructing it to detonate… The signal 'cannot make contact, therefore when it can’t make contact it doesn’t detonate,' much like a cellular phone call that does not connect… The cell phone never gets through, but [enemy forces] think it goes through." Certain Warlocks were designed for ad hoc efforts by connecting to a vehicle's cigarette lighter or any standard 12V DC power source. Jammers are still problematic as the user has to find and remain on the frequency of that particular cell phone, garage door opener, even a vehicle's remote key entry device being used to detonate the IED. Blanketing the area with multiple frequency devices in the old Soviet "gap filler" strategy raises the risk that US forces will not know if they have interrupted all the devices. Unfortunately, trumpeting the capability of jammers and getting them into the hands of troops are two different matters.

A more effective IED countermeasure is believed to be pulsed electromagnetic energy that either can "fry the circuits of these bombs" or even detonate them. One experimental effort is NIRF (Neutralizing Improvised Explosive Devices with RF) which "produces a very high-frequency field, in the microwave range, at very short range" to disable an IED's electronics. Another is the Scorpion which has "pre-detonated a wide variety of IEDs it encountered in realistic test scenarios, based on U.S. experience in Iraq." One would expect that pilot systems are already in Iraq but the released information states likely deployments later in 2005.

Part 2

Iraq's Cellphone Battle
Service Provider Iraqna Tries To Meet Demand Despite Long Outages, Insurgent Use
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV and SARMAD ALI
WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 21, 2005

ATK Under Contract For Counter-IED Program
Space Daily
Minneapolis MN (SPX)
Jun 20, 2005

Army Buys 8,000 Jammers To Equip Troops
Agence France-Presse
March 18, 2005

Improvised Bombs Baffle Army
By Noah Shachtman
Wired News
02:00 AM Jan. 26, 2005 PT

Enemy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) and Recommendations
MAJ Eric O. Estep
Support Operations Plans
3rd COSCOM [Corps Suport Command]
LSA Anaconda, Iraq

MORE ON WARLOCK'S TRICKS
Defense Tech
November 22, 2004 09:42 AM

I.E.D. DEFENSE - NO LUCK YET
Defense Tech
September 28, 2004 12:16 AM

Gordon Housworth



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"Fortress urbanism," the modern Panopticon, is essentially reactive and will work no better in the US than in the UK

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The UK's "fortress urbanism," its "ring of steel," is essentially reactive, a tool more for police and forensic analysis, as the terrorist is already in motion at the point of potential identification when the chance of successful interdiction is down to roughly 1 in 10. Designed originally to defend against IRA bombings, "fortress urbanism" is a network of checkpoints, concrete barriers, and CCTV video cameras (now estimated at 4.2 million cameras). The London transportation system alone has 6,000 cameras in its network with 9,000 planned by 2010. Some 1,800 of the 6,000 are installed in London's train stations and selected buses.

The CCTV network was conceived as a modern Panopticon, which was the model prison proposed by Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham as a round-the-clock surveillance machine designed to ensure "that no prisoner could ever see the 'inspector' who conducted surveillance from the privileged central location within the radial configuration. The prisoner could never know when he was being surveilled -- mental uncertainty that in itself would prove to be a crucial instrument of discipline."

But unlike the prisoners that were already under lock and key in the Panopticon, modern terrorists can conceive, plan and execute substantial acts of violence because, not having yet been identified as a primary threat, they remain anonymous among millions of hours of unintegrated daily video footage too vast to be examined in real-time. A privacy specialist that has studied the UK's surveillance system, Jeffrey Rosen, notes that, "The fact that the bombers struck in the most heavily surveilled city in the world, the city with more CCTV cameras than any other, reminds us of the chilling but obvious truth: suicide attacks, are by their nature, very difficult to prevent. Nevertheless, the London bombings suggest that cameras may be one of many useful tools in investigating attacks after the fact." Having just politely corralled cameras as a post event forensic tool whose costs compete with the less visible intel gathering and proactive policing, Rosen goes on the observe that "Spain and Germany [have] identified suspects in major terrorist attacks without CCTV cameras."

What I find interesting in the highest per capita nation of CCTV coverage is that there is a valid history of research that shows that there is little evidence to prove that CCTV works in reducing crime and is worth the diversion of monies that could be devoted to simpler, but more proactive measures. In 1999 and 2002 the crime reduction charity, Nacro (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) has noted that despite increasing camera expenditures that there is little substantive evidence that CCTV reduces crime, i.e., provides a proactive effect.

Showing the fallacy of an excessive focus on the fortress urbanism approach, the initial UK attacks of 7 July, the botched attacks of 21 July, and the discovery of twelve bombs and four improvised detonators in the car trunk of one of the bombers occurred in the Western city said to be best equipped to prevent such bombings. In keeping with the non-alertive approach of the asymmetrical attacker, these bombs and detonators were produced from materials available at either supermarket or hardware store.

Politicians on this side of the Atlantic appear to be no better at responding to the UK's lessons of the low proactive and predictive value of large 'feel good' visible security measure such as CCTV security systems, GPS tracking devices for buses and electronic intrusion monitors:

Some government officials in Washington and New York want to spend billions of dollars on security systems [where the] call to redirect a chunk of the nation's homeland security dollars to "harden" mass transit systems is hardly a surprise. In fact, for politicians from urban centers, it is an almost irresistible refrain.

We have already commenced on this slippery slope in New York City where, in the post-UK bombing atmosphere, the city is spending $1.9 million USD per week in overtime for added police presence and random inspections in the subway and mass transit system. How long is that sustainable, who will pay it, and what will we not be able to financially or conceptually address because of that spending? The problem only gets worse as we build our own fortress urbanism, our own rigid Maginot Line.

Just as the Maginot Line, crafted from the 'success' of static, defensive combat in World War I, failed under a newer mobile mechanized infantry, so will our own fail under the small-scale high-impact operations of an asymmetrical attacker employing unexpected, non-traditional and broadly applicable methods. One should keep three simple equations in mind to characterize risk, threat, and impact but learn to view them through the eyes of the asymmetric attacker:

  • Threat = Vulnerabilities X Intentions X Capabilities
  • Risk = Threat X Vulnerability X Asset Value
  • Impact = Resources + Unexpected Methods + (Understanding + Exploitation) Vulnerabilities + Effect Multipliers (M1+M2+M3+…MX)

The successful approach to defend, defer, or deflect an attacker is almost all proactive process with a modest amount of strategically placed hardware that has a specific value to the process - one variant of which is to prevent, deter, prepare, detect, respond, recover, and mitigate.

Sane voices mirroring our own thinking appear to be trampled in the stampede of politicians that cherish well-intentioned but misguided effort that allow themselves to be seen as 'doing something' on behalf of their constituents. Randall Larsen cautions that, "We should not be focusing our efforts on preventing an attack 10 meters or 10 minutes before the attack," when the shooter is already in motion and you have little chance of interdiction. (One can always hope that they run out of ammunition first.) James Carafano stresses the need to remedy deficiencies in our foreign and domestic intel collection and analysis (notably HUMINT), reduce the consequences of a successful attack, and only then look to "building barriers" and inspecting bags.

Fat chance. The US is "already replete with examples of well-intentioned but marginally effective efforts to create anti-terrorism barriers." Expect it to get far worse without improving our proactive efforts. Expect that we could fall victim to a domestic version of the UK bombers, "all British citizens, had no criminal records, weren't on any watch lists and had no extremist pasts."

To Fight Terror, New York Tries London's 'Ring of Steel'
By ERIC LIPTON
New York Times
July 24, 2005

Cameras in Britain Record the Criminal and the Banal
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
New York Times
July 23, 2005

Experts Say Suicide Mission in United States Is Inevitable
Following London Attacks, Small, Insular Jihadi Networks Seen as Big Threat
By CHARLOTTE SECTOR
ABC News
July 18, 2005

Modeling Homeland Security
Kristopher A. Pruitt, Richard F. Deckro, and Stephen P. Chambal
JDMS, Volume 1, Issue 4, October 2004 Page 187-200
The Society for Modeling and Simulation International

CCTV: Does it work?
BBC News
Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK

CCTV 'fails to reduce crime'
BBC News
Friday, 28 June, 2002, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK

TO CCTV or not to CCTV? A review of current research into the effectiveness of CCTV systems in reducing crime
National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro)
Friday, June 28 2002

Community Safety. Community Solutions: tackling crime in inner city neighbourhoods
National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro)
Friday, November 12 1999

PANOPTICON; OR THE INSPECTION-HOUSE: CONTAINING THE IDEA OF A NEW PRINCIPLE OF CONSTRUCTION APPLICABLE TO ANY SORT OF ESTABLISHMENT, IN WHICH PERSONS OF ANY DESCRIPTION ARE TO BE KEPT UNDER INSPECTION; AND IN PARTICULAR TO PENITENTIARY-HOUSES, PRISONS, HOUSES OF INDUSTRY, WORK-HOUSES, POOR-HOUSES, LAZARETTOS, MANUFACTORIES, HOSPITALS, MAD-HOUSES, AND SCHOOLS
BY JEREMY BENTHAM
1787

Gordon Housworth



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Threat of H5N1 avian flu pandemic rises to point that business must actively consider contingency plans, part 2

  #

Part 1

China is again failing to provide requested urgently information and samples, this time about three outbreaks among migrating wild birds in the remote western provinces of Qinghai and Xinjiang where avian flu outbreaks now threaten all of previously unaffected countries of Central Asia and Russia:

In late April, Chinese authorities began to detect the widespread death of migratory birds at a nature reserve in Qinghai, an important breeding and transit point for 189 bird species. During the following weeks, Chinese officials reported that more than 6,000 waterfowl had died from bird flu, raising the prospect that the disease could spread along the long-distance migration routes to South Asia and beyond to Europe. Then, last month, China reported two more outbreaks in Xinjiang, including one on the border with Kazakhstan. Though officials said the deaths were mainly among domestic geese and ducks, they added that migratory birds had played a role in spreading the infection.

Based upon prior Chinese performance over SARS reporting, one is left unsatisfied with the Chinese response that "the infection in Xinjiang has been contained." Independent Chinese scientists that report on avian flu outbreaks are again under attack by the Agriculture Ministry while foreign researchers are quiet lest China bar them from entry. The stakes are rising as the virulence of H5N1 rises. Infected domestic flocks now die in a day rather than many.

Things are generally getting worse:

New research suggests that currently circulating strains of H5 viruses are becoming more capable of causing disease (pathogenic) for mammals than earlier H5 viruses and are becoming more widespread in birds in the region. One study found that ducks infected with H5N1 are now shedding more virus for longer periods of time without showing any symptoms of illness... other findings have documented H5 infection among pigs in China and H5 infection in felines (experimental infection in housecats in the Netherlands and isolation of H5N1 viruses from infected tigers and leopards in Thailand), suggesting that cats could host or transmit the infection. These findings are particularly worrisome in light of the fact that reassortment of avian influenza genomes is most likely to occur when these viruses demonstrate a capacity to infect multiple species, as is now the case in Asia.

In lay terms that genomic reassortment results in a variant capable of efficient human-to-human transmission, the tipping point for a pandemic:

there is little preexisting natural immunity to H5N1 infection in the human population, and an influenza pandemic could result, with high rates of illness and death... genetic sequencing of influenza A (H5N1) [show resistance to] two of the medications commonly used for treatment of influenza [leaving only] two remaining antiviral medications [effective] against currently circulating strains... mass production and availability of such a vaccine is some time off.

Panama, Argentina and Australia are planning simulation exercises to prepare for a bird flu attack in order "to evaluate their capability to respond." The answer will be nil. The US, pardon the pun, is a sitting duck. The Infectious Diseases Society of America says that "if Asia's bird flu or another strain turns into a pandemic, we'll be caught nearly empty-handed," noting that the treatment courses of anti-virals in the US stockpile "totally inadequate and unlikely to provide any meaningful benefit to our population." Current stockpiles are 1/30th to 1/60th of that required to treat healthcare workers, emergency responders, and enough of the population to quell a pandemic.

Those unable to explore alternative supply channels for their most critical path items should at least consider a 'recession plan' depending on where the disease breaks out with respect to what key items in their supply chains will be affected, e.g., components in, manufacturing, transport, finished goods out. The only reason that I want to think that an H5N1 human outbreak will not happen is that I shrink from its the consequences.

AVIAN INFLUENZA, HUMAN - EAST ASIA (105): CDC UPDATE
ProMED
Archive Number 20050724.2144
Published Date 24-JUL-2005

Latest Information on Avian influenza
ProMEDmail (running archive)

Bird Flu Deaths Sow Panic In Wealthy Jakarta Suburb
Officials Have Not Found Source of Outbreak
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 25, 2005

China Has Not Shared Crucial Data On Bird Flu Outbreaks, Officials Say
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 19, 2005

U.S. and other nations brace for bird flu
By Steve Mitchell
UPI Medical Correspondent
Published July 14, 2005

With New Clue to How SARS Kills, Scientists Work on Treatment
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
International Herald Tribune
July 14, 2005

Countries Hit by Bird Flu Have Little Medicine to Treat Humans
As Rich Nations Stock Up, Asians Unprepared for Pandemic
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 6, 2005

Bird flu: An ill wind from the East
By David Isenberg
Asia Times
Jul 1, 2005

Bird Flu Drug Rendered Useless
Chinese Chickens Given Medication Made for Humans
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
June 18, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Threat of H5N1 avian flu pandemic rises to point that business must actively consider contingency plans

  #

The threat of an avian flu H5N1 human-to-human outbreak - which holds the specter of a global pandemic - is now at a point that I submit that firms that do not address the potential impacts to their global supply chains are at a point between a near total supply chain interruption and fiduciary breach. This is cheap prose to firms that are struggling with financial and competitive demands and who can rightly retort that they are no different from the federal government in ignoring the rising warnings from WHO, CDC and others. The supply chain impacts, leave aside the death toll, are going to be stunning. I draw readers to a January 2005 two part series, Using SARS to predict H5N1 Avian Flu impacts on regional & global supply chains.

The tipping point could occur at any time but the forthcoming fall flu season could see the crossover from avian to human transmission as many of those falling prey to human flu chance to be in proximity with animals and birds with avian flu. Once genomic reassortment occurs in one or more doubly infected humans, the game is up for an unprepared globe. SARS was a cakewalk as a disease vector as it is actually hard to transmit in comparison to H5N1.

Hosted by wild birds, Influenza A (H5N1) was first isolated from birds in South Africa in 1961. The first know direct bird-to-human transmission occurred in 1997 in Hong Kong. "Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces," thereby spreading among susceptible birds that come in contact. Most human H5N1 infections rise from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. The epizootic outbreak of H5N1 in Asia is not expected to diminish significantly and it is considered likely that H5N1 infection among birds "has become endemic to the region and that human infections will continue to occur."

No sustained human-to-human transmission of H5N1 has been identified, but the proximity of man to mammals and birds makes the possibility of genetic reassortment a rising case of when not if. Avian H5N1 or bird flu is especially fatal as it, along with SARS, burns, cancers, and other infections, results in an especially deadly pneumonia that causes a condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome in which the victim's lungs fill with fluid.

ProMED-mail, an international program for monitoring emerging diseases, carries a drumbeat of growing infection:

Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) [virus infection] occurred among poultry in 8 countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao, South Korea, Thailand, and Viet Nam) during late 2003 and early 2004. At that time, more than 100 million birds either died from the disease or were culled. From 30 Dec 2003 to 17 Mar 2004, 12 confirmed human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) [virus infection] were reported in Thailand and 23 in Viet Nam, resulting in a total of 23 deaths.

Beginning in late June 2004... new lethal outbreaks of avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection among poultry were reported by several countries in Asia: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia (first-time reports), Thailand, and Viet Nam. In late March 2005, state media in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) officially reported the country's first outbreak of avian influenza in poultry.

During August to October 2004, sporadic human cases of H5N1 were reported in Viet Nam and Thailand. Of particular note is one isolated instance of probable limited human-to-human transmission occurring in Thailand in September 2004. Since December 2004, a resurgence of poultry outbreaks and human cases have been reported in Viet Nam. On 2 Feb 2005, the first human case of avian influenza A H5N1 infection from Cambodia was reported. On 21 Jul 2005, the first laboratory-confirmed human case of avian influenza A H5N1 in Indonesia was reported.

As of 21 Jul 2005, there have been 109 human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in Viet Nam (87), Thailand (17), Cambodia (4) and Indonesia (1) resulting in 55 deaths.

a government auditor and his 2 young daughters died suddenly [as] Indonesia's 1st casualties of avian influenza [in an upscale] California-style subdivision of bankers, businessmen and doctors... [also here] Most residents of the Villa Melati Mas [commuter] community on the western outskirts of Jakarta had paid little [attention] to reports of avian influenza, which has devastated poultry flocks across Indonesia during the last 2 years... Unlike the rural villages of Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, where other avian influenza deaths have occurred, there are no farmers or live chickens in Villa Melati Mas.

Part 2

AVIAN INFLUENZA, HUMAN - EAST ASIA (105): CDC UPDATE
ProMED
Archive Number 20050724.2144
Published Date 24-JUL-2005

Latest Information on Avian influenza
ProMEDmail (running archive)

Bird Flu Deaths Sow Panic In Wealthy Jakarta Suburb
Officials Have Not Found Source of Outbreak
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 25, 2005

China Has Not Shared Crucial Data On Bird Flu Outbreaks, Officials Say
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 19, 2005

U.S. and other nations brace for bird flu
By Steve Mitchell
UPI Medical Correspondent
Published July 14, 2005

With New Clue to How SARS Kills, Scientists Work on Treatment
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
International Herald Tribune
July 14, 2005

Countries Hit by Bird Flu Have Little Medicine to Treat Humans
As Rich Nations Stock Up, Asians Unprepared for Pandemic
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
July 6, 2005

Bird flu: An ill wind from the East
By David Isenberg
Asia Times
Jul 1, 2005

Bird Flu Drug Rendered Useless
Chinese Chickens Given Medication Made for Humans
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post
June 18, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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The disappearance of inertial privacy by paparazzi and terrorist alike

  #

The piercing of personal privacy once had an inertia to it that deferred all but the dogged collector. No more. The cataloging and publishing of information directly to the web, or to a web of legitimate and grey area intermediates that will fetch information for a fee, have dispensed with what I call inertial privacy and along with it any illusion of anonymity.

A year ago Jon Udell wrote:

Many folks wouldn't want to be reminded how easy it is to convert sparse input into a detailed profile that includes a phone number, a street address, a satellite photo, and driving directions. Re-entering the basic facts each time perpetuates an illusion of privacy. Yet the reality, for many of us, is that these facts are public.

Today that information and vastly more is available to paparazzi and terrorist alike, a fact driven home by same day articles on paparazzi photo wars where celebrities are collateral damage and an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) attack on a university research facility that extended to detailed personalized threats "by axe, drill, or crowbar" to penetrate each researcher's home. In each case, the illusion of anonymity, of privacy, is dissolved. 

The head of one paparazzi firm described the "quality of his information" as being heavily driven by "cash payoffs to tipsters [that] can come to $100,000 a year." Not everyone would agree with his "description of honest business practices" that include:

this week's scheduled movements of every famous passenger of a major limousine company in Los Angeles [where a limo company employee is on retainer]… the passenger manifests of every coast-to-coast flight on American Airlines [LA's largest carrier] to the point that, "If they fly any coastal flight, I know. I can also find anybody in the world within 24 hours, I guarantee it. If they don't mask the tail number on a private plane, I'll find it"… "license plate checked in an hour on weekdays, 20 minutes on weekends" [where law-enforcement officers are on payroll - I believe an illegal act]… a photocopy of what he says are the transcribed notes of a top film actress's examination by her doctor, and points to a reference to her breast implants.

Another paparazzi capitalized on his former gang and street credentials to create a "tight network of Angelenos that extends to seemingly everywhere in Hollywood [where] "We can find just about anything" or "easily - and illegally - penetrated Universal Studios the other day to get exclusive pictures" of an actress.

After ALF members broke into a college research facility, destroying equipment and dumping acid and other corrosives on computers and documents, this single-interest terrorist group (also here) commenced "well-orchestrated harassments" containing:

the e-mailing of a communique to the media, detailing the crime and the rationale for targeting" the facility and its researchers… Each [researcher] was singled out for derision… [then threatened with statements such as] "We're watching. And by axe, drill, or crowbar -- we're coming though your door. Stop or be stopped"… [followed by a listing of] our names, our spouse's names, home addresses and phone numbers, as well as information about our students… freedom of information requests, midnight phone calls… [then a deluge of subscriptions such as] Canoe & Kayak, Guns & Ammo, Fit Pregnancy, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords.

Information is collected for profit by the paparazzi and for fulfillment of a sole vision by the single-interest group, but it is collected with ease nonetheless. Profit and vision may intermingle as vision pays for the data that it cannot readily collect. Alternately vision may sell data in order to fund the continuance of their own particular vision. In either case, the reader should know that anonymity is a veil to be pierced for the asking.

The Animal Zealotry That Destroyed Our Lab
By Mark S. Blumberg
Washington Post
July 17, 2005

Eye vs. Eye: Inside the Photo Wars
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER and ALLISON HOPE WEINER
New York Times
July 17, 2005

HailStorm was before its time
Jon Udell
Strategic Developer/InfoWorld
July 16, 2004

Gordon Housworth



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Revisiting Colonel Kurtz; applying the 'Pollard Test' to Muslims

  #

With Londonistan in mind, a colleague asked in reference to my indictment of scenario planning, what interdiction strategy would I pursue. (See The danger of confusing terrorist interdiction with the consequences of terrorist action.)   My reply was "Classic counterterrorism, which we are not practicing, and a sound understanding of asymmetrical warfare, which few have, is the solution to the false god of scenario building.  We learn it, have learned it, in small groups, but just as with Deming and his Theory of Profound Knowledge in the quality sphere, we have absolutely not learned it at a broad managerial and operations level.  I despair that our suffering will continue by virtue of this lapse."

I noted that I was indirectly pointing to a solution as I was citing two sets of unclass discussions on threat assessment, asset assessment, vulnerability assessment, and risk assessment that are at the core of an interdiction process regardless of whether it is counterterrorism (CT) or Intellectual Property (IP) theft.  In a follow-on note to my colleague, I added, "This will not amuse you, but it is both my experience and my reading that understanding asymmetrical warfare at a reflexive, muscle memory level is virtually a wholesale wiring change for a superpower accustomed to, say, fighting massed tank battles on the German plains under air power cover.  It is the less powerful player, such as the Chinese and the Iraqi nationalist insurgents, that take it to heart as it is the only means by which they can survive, much less prosper."

As to his question of what to do in Europe, I replied that the options are so vast depending on the option set shared by all parties, the added options assumed on a state by state basis, the holes created by one state that affect others (example close to home: the US will not/can not clamp down on the major neo-Nazi sites that are largely quartered in the US but affect Germany), that it is beyond the scope of a weblog entry to capture.

Our discussion migrated to the varying degrees of cruelty employed in the strategies of each side, and before continuing I would recommend readers to look at Gresham's Law of Competitive Behavior for what I would expect to be a downward spiral. I submit that Musab Al Zaquari has already reached the position of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now:
I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.

The question is, do we have to get there, and if so, where and how often. I am familiar with the effects on villagers of the equivalent of piles of recently vaccinated arms. The VC/NVA/Khymer Rouge along with assorted African tribes have carried out interventions that we would call horrific, what they would call effective, in order to separate the populace from any form of cooperation with US/UN/external forces. Even passive cooperation was discouraged as they rightly saw them as a CBM (Confidence Building Measure) that would lead to more CBMs and then to bilateral cooperation. Our dilemma is that we are seeing this happen in Iraq where radicalized Islamics are already operating in Kurtz mode while we in the west, for the most part, are trying to hold to another standard that Gresham's Law of Competitive Behavior will make increasingly difficult to sustain. Getting there is all to easy. It is the getting back that is difficult.

As Londonistan was being written it was becoming clear that the perps were UK nationals or what the British call "clean skins," those with no criminal record or known connections to militants. The anguish of the UK's Muslim community not withstanding, it is my opinion that this domestic constituency requires the Islamic equivalent of what I call the Pollard Test.

The Pollard Test is my loyalty litmus test for Jewish Americans: If you feel that what Jonathon Pollard did was justified in any manner, then you are a security risk to the US. Full stop. For those of you unfamiliar with this aging case, this from Palmerston, interests, and forms of governance:

Israel pursues an independent diplomatic policy at odds with US interests. Israel is a modest cooperative partner in the US war against terrorism. Just as the Russians, the Pakistanis, the Chinese and others did in the post 11 September period, Israel immediately offered the US data that painted their parochial adversaries as the architect or participant of the air liner assault so that we might attack them. Each country offers or withholds information so as to advance its national interests, and attempts to influence where it cannot command. Israel is no exception and I think that it applies Palmerston better than the US.

Israel ran Jonathan Pollard, a US Navy civilian analyst, as a spy to enormous and ongoing harm to the US. Israel not only used that information to US disservice but further went on to sell or broker that information to the Russians and the Chinese, perhaps others. The impact on the US is still being felt to this day and none of the attempts of his apologist spouse, Esther, will wipe that away. The effects of Pollard's espionage is so great that Director CIA threatened to resign if Clinton pardoned Pollard. (If a US national has strong loyalties, be it religious, tribal, cultural or geographic, that work to the detriment of US interests, then I am also at odds with them.)

Israel is not a devoted friend of the US and it has nothing to do with religion or its democratic governance. (We forget that France was the principal post-partition mentor of Israel before the US.) It is a nation state acting in its best interests, some of which correspond to our own.

I've had the pain of a close Jewish friend accusing me of being "anti-Israel" for this stance but it has nothing to do with Israel or that fact that the majority of its citizens are Jewish. If you are a US national, you have certain obligations to your chosen state until such time you wish to surrender your citizenship. And such divided loyalties are by no means a Jewish-American phenomenon; I have sat in Irish bars in Somerville, Massachusetts watching open solicitation for both the IRA and Sein Finn. In one of those bars, I made a bland comment as to the wisdom of this effort and of the IRA in general and was hastily extracted by an Irish-American colleague as tempers begin to flare.

Muslims, just as Jews or any other hyphenated group, must choose without equivocation or justification.

Data Shows Faster-Rising Death Toll Among Iraqi Civilians
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
New York Times
July 14, 2005

For Britain's Muslims, a Fear Realized
By Glenn Frankel and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post
July 14, 2005

Police Widen Probe Of London Bombings
By Craig Whitlock and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post
July 14, 2005

Despite Terror, Europeans Seem Determined to Maintain Civil Liberties
By RICHARD BERNSTEIN
New York Times
July 9, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Londonistan: Do not confuse "crude" with effective, or dismiss "homegrown" over imported "highly trained terrorists"

  #

Before one dismisses the effects of a "crude" bomb, it is instructive to look at the blast effects inside the controlled space of a subway tube. See the photo in The black widows strike again? describing the Chechen suicide bombing of a Moscow metro train in a tunnel near Paveletskaya station. The three London tube blast effects would, I think, demonstrate similar characteristics as the smaller London charges would be offset by the London tube geometry. In a private note of 6 Feb, 2004, speaking to a spate of bus bombings in Israel I noted:

A subway car is a much softer target than a bus as the blast is contained by the subway tube walls, especially if it is a single track line as are many of the older London tube lines. Pick a very busy station and get the explosives to walk in. Conventional explosives are so elegantly simple, but it is only a matter of time before we see the merger of suicide bombers and WMD. Just add something [simple] and it will be spread through the train and tunnel. First responders will not be expecting it as they attempt to clear the train. [London first responders at the King's Cross bombing had their hands full enough with toxic gases, falling asbestos, and hordes of vermin.]

Much of the early, even current, traffic on the London bombings continues to confuse a "crude" device with an extremely effective device sufficient to achieve its aims, and to denigrate domestic or "homegrown" terrorists in lieu of "highly trained terrorists" imported for the occasion. I maintain the exact opposite in that the attacks achieved their aims with great efficiency and complete surprise - the hallmarks of asymmetrical warfare - and are increasingly seen in the UK as Britain's '9-11' (It is being called "7-7"). Furthermore, I find it a much greater threat to the UK, and by extension to Europe and the US, that the attack team is a isolated sleeper cell of modest unknowns from Leeds.

Consider the following:

  • Lack of warning: While seeing a large-scale attack as inevitable, UK "police and the intelligence services, considered by their peers to be among the best in the world, were taken by surprise by the coordinated bombings… There was no warning or even a hint that an attack was imminent… Britain's Joint Terrorist Analysis Center quietly reduced the threat level of a terror attack from "severe-general," its highest level, to "substantial," the next highest level" and was not raised in the run-up to the G-8 summit in Scotland.
  • Sophistication of the devices: Much has been made of low tech timers instead of more advanced cellphone initiated devices as used in Madrid, but the depth of the London subways makes cellphone triggering highly problematic, especially when the attacker wants to insure near simultaneous detonation. If suicide bombers are shown to be present, then the detonation sequence becomes far simpler still.
  • Successful 'distance learning': If the attackers prove to be a concealed domestic sleeper cell, it indicates that al Qaeda has achieved a level of web-based distance learning and covert communication that allows it to deliver the needed inspiration and technical details at will.
  • Staging sites seamlessly turn bomb sites: Long compliant governments such as the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands are witnessing the pantheon of militants amongst them effortlessly shift from proselytizing, organizing and staging attacks abroad to carrying out attacks within the host state.
  • Attacker nationalities continue to be our friends: The overwhelming majority of suicide bombers "are citizens of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries in which the United States has stationed combat troops since 1990. Of the other suicide terrorists, most came from America's closest allies in the Muslim world - Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco - rather than from those the State Department considers "state sponsors of terrorism."
  • Continued pressure on the US and its allies to withdraw from the Muslim world: Attacks on US allies are more efficient than attacks on the US, coercing them to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan thereby increasing the economic and military strains upon the US. To that and other aims, an anti-US and anti-Western center continues to rise among the Muslim diasporia in Europe. Pressure on Italy, Denmark, Germany and the UK will rise.

Even as UK authorities run this event to ground, they - and we - need to be alert to very different attack vectors. Although there was a 2002 precedent, as early as May 2005, airports in the UK and US were cautioned of female bombers carrying explosives in their undergarmets, with training to "make security officials feel uneasy about checking such private areas, hoping that one or more female bombers, especially young girls, will successfully be permitted to pass through the screening process... If that plan fails, however, they will detonate the bomb at the checkpoint."

A female suicide bomber, Wafa al-Biss, was discovered at the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip carrying 20 lbs of high explosives sewn into undergarments. Discovery was solely due to security officers becoming "suspicious of al-Biss because her gait was strange." How often would authorities in a major UK or US city be so fortunate.

I find it interesting that so little time is devoted to defining asymmetrical success in terms of execution cost versus defender direct and indirect costs. Not only are these terrorist acts increasingly difficult to interdict, they are alluring as they are so efficient. The architect of the siege of Beslan School No. 1, Shamil Basayev, noted that there will be more Beslans as they are so cheap. The three-day siege in which Chechen separatists took more than 1,000 hostages, most of them children, and saw over 300 dead, cost less than ten thousand dollars.

Beslan: Siege of School No. 1
Wide Angle, PBS
12 July, 2005

British Police Revise Time Span of Subway Blasts
By ALAN COWELL
New York Times
July 10, 2005

In London, Islamic Radicals Found a Haven
By Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser
Washington Post Foreign Service
July 10, 2005

For a Decade, London Thrived as a Busy Crossroads of Terror
By ELAINE SCIOLINO and DON VAN NATTA Jr.
New York Times
July 10, 2005

Al-Qaeda at home in Europe
By Kathleen Ridolfo
Asia Times
9 July, 2005

Al Qaeda's Smart Bombs
By ROBERT A. PAPE
New York Times
July 9, 2005

Al-Qaeda at home in Europe
By Kathleen Ridolfo
Asia Times
9 July, 2005

Analysts Say London Attacks Likely Inspired By Al-Qaeda
By Robert McMahon
RFE/RL
8 July, 2005

UK knew it was coming
By B Raman
Asia Times
Jul 8, 2005

Who's Fighting The Real War Against Islam?
By Joyce Day
RFE/RL
8 July, 2005

London Officials Report Details of Attack and Recovery Snags
By ALAN COWELL
New York Times

British Officials Say They Had No Warning
By DON VAN NATTA Jr.
New York Times
July 7, 2005

Moment a suicide bombing mission failed
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Telegraph (UK)
Filed: 22/06/2005

Video of female suicide bomber's isolation and removal of explosive-laden underwear

Londonistan
By Stephen Ulph
Terrorism Monitor
Volume 2, Issue 4 (February 26, 2004)

Gordon Housworth



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