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Terrorists and Suicide Tactics: Preparing for the Challenge

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 74 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 32,33,35,36
Richard G. Priem; Dennis M. Hunter; Joseph M. Polisar
Date Published
September 2007
4 pages
This article discusses the type of training that local law enforcement officers need in order to prevent terrorist suicide bombings in the United States.
In order to address this issue, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asked the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to develop a course that would train senior managers in law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical service, and similar departments and agencies to prepare their organizations for suicide terrorist attacks against U.S. targets. The training design is tailored to the unique political, legal, and cultural heritage of the United States. A significant portion of training time addresses activities before the attack. The training curriculum identifies a nine-phase process in planning a suicide bombing: the identification of potential bombers, recruitment of bombers, bomber training, the selection and surveillance of targets, the purchasing of components, building the bomb, final preparation, moving to the target, and detonating the bomb. Effective police intelligence programs have the potential to intervene during the first three phases of the planning. Perhaps the best opportunities for detection and successful interdiction occur when terrorist organizations are selecting targets and conducting surveillance. Aggressive countersurveillance at potential or anticipated target locations is a critical component of any prevention program. When final preparations are complete and a suicide bomber begins moving toward the selected target, law enforcement agencies will find it difficult to stop the execution of the attack. Without prior warning and intelligence, identification of a bomber poses serious challenges to law enforcement. Participants in the training observe actual detonations of suicide device designs and receive instruction in threat tactics unique to suicide bombing scenarios and in appropriate, effective countermeasures.