High tech infrastructures vulnerable to New Terrorism

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Saturday, 28 October 2000 12:18 (ET)

High tech infrastructures vulnerable to New Terrorism -- Part 1 of 3 By MARTIN WALKER

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (UPI) -- The British government has announced sweeping new powers to compel law firms, banks and financial institutions like credit card companies to help stop money laundering and financial transactions that could finance Northern Ireland terror groups. Launched this week, the new 'follow the money' offensive is to be run by a task force of counter-intelligence officers and organized crime investigators.

High Tech infrastructures vulnerable to New Terrorism - Part 2 of 3 Saturday, 28 October 2000 22:13 (ET)

High Tech infrastructures vulnerable to New Terrorism - Part 2 of 3 By MARTIN WALKER

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (UPI) -- The suicide bombers who moored alongside the USS Cole to explode a gigantic hole in the destroyer's side were the worse nightmare of the West's counter-terrorism experts. Logic suggests that there are few ways to defend any target against a terrorist prepared to die in order to fulfill the mission.

"We have nothing except the weapon of martyrdom. It is easy and costs us only our lives", declared Ramadan Shalah, secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. "Human bombs cannot be defeated, not even by nuclear bombs". But counter-terrorist agencies are rejecting this counsel of despair. Israeli officials, who faced suicide bombers during the Hamas offensive of 1994-96, argue persuasively that the threat can be countered by stressing the fact that no suicide bomber acts alone.

The suicide bomber needs a parent organization to spy out the target, to assemble the explosives and get them and him into the target zone. The organization itself, its training camps and its communications networks, its fund-raising and recruitment systems, are all obvious and important targets.

"The actual weakness of suicide bombers is that they are nothing more than the instruments of terrorist leaders who expect their organizations to gain tangible benefits from this shocking tactic. The key to countering suicide bombers, therefore, is to make terrorist organizations aware that this decision will incur painful costs", says Ehud Sprinzak, dean of Israel's Lauder School of Government, Policy and Diplomacy.

"Political and economic sanctions against the terrorists' community, combined with effective coercive diplomacy against their foreign patrons, may help reduce or end suicide terrorism", Sprinzak continues, in a widely-cited article in the October issue of 'Foreign Policy' that stressesthe need to focus on the back-up organization rather than the individual bomber.

"Governments do not have to invent entirely new tactics when waging a war against suicide terrorists. Instead, they must adapt and intensify existing counter-terrorism strategies to exploit the vulnerabilities of suicide bombers".

Israeli experts have been at the forefront of researching and investigating the phenomenon since the early 1980s, when their own forces in Lebanon became targets for suicide bombers. At the same time, 241 American troops and 58 French paratroopers from the multinational peacekeeping force in were also killed in Beirut by suicide bombers driving trucks laden with explosives into their respective compounds.

Ariel Merari, a psychologist at Tel Aviv University, put together a psychological profile of the suicide bomber, based on researching a total of 50 such volunteers in the Hezbollah, Amal and PIJ groups. Although most were young male high school graduates who usually had lost close family members in the struggle, Merari found that there was no simple key, and no easily definable characteristic to the suicide bomber.

It is not even necessarily an Islamic phenomenon, despite the promise of an afterlife in paradise for those who die fighting for the faith. The terrorist group with by far the bloodiest record of suicide bombings is the Tamil Tigers, whose community usually practices Buddhism. Of 286 recorded suicide bombers around the world since 1983, the elite 'Black Tigers' contributed 171 of them, well over half. Among their targets were Indian premier Rajiv Ghandi in 1991 and Sri Lanka President Ranasinghe Primadasa in 1993.

Nor is suicide bombing necessarily a male phenomenon. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) mounted fifteen suicide bombing operations between 1995-99 and eleven of them were carried out by women. They were less likely to be searched, especially when their explosives were disguised as the bulge of a pregnancy. The Tamil Tigers also deployed women.

Israeli researchers have also identified marked differences in the ways that suicide bombers are recruited and trained. The Tamil Tigers draw their suicide bombers from their elite commando units, the Black Tigers, who are also used on dangerous but not necessarily lethal military missions.

In the Middle East, Hamas and the PIJ do not seek volunteer 'shahids' (martyrs), according to Boaz Ganor, director of Israel's International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. Instead, they count on religious teachers to identify potential suicide bombers from among their pupils. If deemed suitable, the 'shahids' are put through an intense military training and ideological preparation, including the promise of generous funds and accolades for their families.

The final recommendation from the Israeli counter-terrorism experts is that common sense counter-measures, like X-ray machines at airports and surveillance and cement blocks outside potential targets to deter truck bombers, are essential. Moreover, by being seen to be taking steps against the threat, governments can help their own people withstand the real objective of the suicide bombers, to instill a morale-sapping psychology of terror among the target population.

The final piece of advice from the Israeli experts is that suicide bombers are few enough to be a precious resource, whose masters will not usually waste them on hardened targets. This may need some revision, after the attack on the USS Cole, which was an armored target under orders to mount security watches while in what was clearly a potentially difficult neighborhood. The bottom line of the Israeli advice is that suicide bombers are always going to win some battles, but there is no need to assume that they can win a war. -- Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 29, 2000


Here is the complete part 1 of the above post. I usually skip UPI articles because they do not format porperly to this board, so have to redo them.

Saturday, 28 October 2000 12:19 (ET)

High tech infrastructures vulnerable to New Terrorism - Part 1 of 3 By MARTIN WALKER

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (UPI) -- The British government has announced sweeping new powers to compel law firms, banks and financial institutions like credit card companies to help stop money laundering and financial transactions that could finance Northern Ireland terror groups.

Launched this week, the new 'follow the money' offensive is to be run by a task force of top officials from MI5 counter-intelligence, Scotland Yard's organized crime directorate, the customs service, the national criminal intelligence service and the controversial Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's police. The new organization is matched by a British government pledge to establish a new Confiscation Agency charged with the seizure of assets on suspicion that they have been illegally financed, despite strong objections from civil liberties groups.

The new measures, aimed at the financial base of terrorist groups in Northern Ireland and what British officials called their Mafia-style sub-culture, reflect a mounting international concern at a phenomenon dubbed 'the New Terrorism".

In the US, the Clinton administration is seeking a $10 billion budget this year to finance its own counter-terrorism program, more than half of it to 'harden' such targets of sabotage as nuclear, chemical, biological and Internet-communications targets. Other funds are designed to build a new counter-terrorism college, to train state and federal officials in the US, and international partners.

In the United Nations, the US, Britain and France are pushing hard get full international backing for a series of cooperative rules to battle the New Terrorism by draining its financial lifeblood. They are pushing for measures like those now being adopted by the British government, and the US strategy of outlawing and heavily fining 'charitable' organizations which act as fronts and cash cows for terror groups abroad.

A vogue term that tries to embrace the decline of state-backed terrorism and its replacement by loose and flexible independent groups like Osama Bin Laden's 'Al-Qaida' network, the New Terrorism also includes that twilight zone where terrorism, organized crime and narcotics trafficking all meet and reinforce each other.

Para-military groups in Northern Ireland, leftist guerillas in Colombia, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka and the new "Afghan" Arab groups like 'Al-Qaida' all participate in the drugs trade to fund their operations. The original "Afghan" Arabs were radical Islamist veterans of the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but the term now includes guerillas who have got to Afghanistan for training by the Taliban, the Islamic faction that controls 90 percent of that country.

"Bin Laden's organization operates on its own, without having to depend on a state sponsor for material support. He has financial resources, often through narco-trafficking or the use of legitimate front companies", said the US government's new Counter-terrorism chief, Ambassador Michael Sheehan. "Bin-Laden and other non-state terrorists also benefit from the globalization of communications, using encrypted email and Internet websites to spread their message, recruit new members and raise funds".

Old-style terrorists, in the words of veteran terrorism expert Brian Jenkins, "wanted a lot of people watching - not a lot of people dead". They wanted to bomb and intimidate their way to the negotiating table, not to blow up the negotiations. New Terrorism is widely regarded as simultaneously more dangerous and harder to detect and infiltrate.

The new terrorists, whether loners like the Unabomber or the new networks of independents like Osama Bin Laden, do not seem to have 'rational' political objectives. Bin Laden, for example, claims that he is fighting to prevent "Greater Israel' from taking over the entire Arab peninsula and its oil-wealth. In an interview on US Public TV's 'Frontline' last year he declared "The whole Muslim world is the victim of international terrorism, engineered by America at the United Nations".

The second problem is the prospect of what Walter Lacquer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC calls "mega terrorism". Author of the new book 'The New Terrorism", Lacquer claims "the consequences of aggressive madness in an age of high technology and the era of weapons of mass destruction may well be beyond our imagination".

Anthony Lake, former National Security Adviser to President Bill Clinton, agrees. In his own new book 'Six Nightmares', which details the way the Clinton administration responded to the emergence of New Terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and the Oklahoma City bombers and the Aum Shinrikyo sect that put nerve gas into the Tokyo subway system, Lake paints the darkest of pictures.

"We have crossed the threshold to the era of high-tech terror, including the use of weapons of mass destruction", Lake says. "And as modern societies become more dependent on integrated, highly technical infrastructures - the systems that run our banks, our airways, our telecommunications, our utilities - we become more vulnerable to new forms of attack, especiallycyber-terror".


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 29, 2000.

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