Police Chief Rob Lawson Addresses Potential Terrorist Attack Threat Around 9/11 Anniversary

[The following was submitted by Police Chief Rob Lawson] Dear Lakewood Resident, Business Owner, School Administrator, 1. I am sure that by now you have heard of the potential threat of a terrorist attack around the time of the 9/11 anniversary. US Counter Terrorism Agents are investigating an unconfirmed threat that al-Qaida may use a car bomb on bridges or tunnels in New York City or Washington. Although there is no direct threat concerning our community, we must always be vigilant. The mantra of preparedness is “See Something Say Something” and now more than ever, residents need to be aware of their environment and report suspicious activities to the police department.

Please be alert and report any suspicious behavior or activities which would include but not be limited to the following:

Reportable Indicators

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Preparations

The following are potential indicators that an individual may be planning, may be aware of others who are planning, or may be motivated to assist in conducting a terrorist attack.

  • Talk knowingly about a future terrorist event, as though the person has inside information about what is going to happen.
     
  • Statement of intent to commit or threatening to commit a terrorist act, whether serious or supposedly as a “joke,” and regardless of whether or not you think the person intends to carry out the action. (All threats must be taken seriously.)
     
  • Statements about having a bomb or biological or chemical weapon, about having or getting the materials to make such a device, or about learning how to make or use any such device—when this is unrelated to the person’s job duties.
     
  • Handling, storing, or tracking hazardous materials in a manner that puts these materials at risk.
     
  • Collection of unclassified information that might be useful to someone planning a terrorist attack, e.g., pipeline locations, airport control procedures, building plans, etc. when this is unrelated to the person’s job or other known interests..
     
  • Physical surveillance (photography, videotaping, taking notes on patterns of activity at various times) of any site that is a potential target for terrorist attack (including but not limited to any building of symbolic importance to the government or economy, large public gathering, transportation center, bridge, power plant or line, communication center).
     
  • Deliberate probing of security responses, such as deliberately causing a false alarm, faked accidental entry to an unauthorized area, or other suspicious activity designed to test security responses without prior authorization.
     
  • Possessing or seeking items that may be useful for a terrorist but are inconsistent with the person’s known hobbies or job requirements, such as: explosives, uniforms (to pose as police officer, security guard, airline employee), high-powered weapons, books and literature on how to make explosive, biological, chemical, or nuclear devices, multiple or fraudulent identification documents.
     
  • Statements of support for suicide bombers who have attacked the United States or U.S. personnel or interests abroad.

Potential Indicators of Subversive Activities

The following are potential indicators that an individual may support or associate with others who support an extremist organization or cause that advocates violence or threats of violence to influence U.S. policy?

  • Knowing membership in, or attempt to conceal membership in, any group which: (1) advocates the use of force or violence to cause political change within the U.S., (2) has been identified as a front group for foreign interests, or (3) advocates loyalty to a foreign interest over loyalty to the U.S.
     
  • Statements disparaging the United States in favor of an alternative system (for example, Islamic law (Shariah), white supremacy, Christian Identity, anarchy, Communism).
     
  • Statements that the U.S. Government is trying to destroy or suppress people of a particular race, religion, or ethnicity (for example, statements that the U.S. Government is engaging in a crusade against Islam or destroying white culture or the purity of the white race).
     
  • Distribution of extremist publications or posting information on the Internet, including e-mail and on-line discussions, which supports or encourages violence or other illegal activity. Frequent viewing of web sites that promote extremist or violent activity (unless this is part of one’s job or academic study).
     
  • Advocating or participating in violence against any individual based on their race, creed, color, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.
     
  • Statements of support for violence against U.S. military forces either at home or deployed abroad.

 

Additionally, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York has developed the following

Seven Signs of Terrorist Activity:

 Surveillance
Elicitation
Test of Security
Acquiring Supplies
Suspicious People Who Don’t Belong
Dry Runs
Deploying Assets/Getting Into Position
1.Surveillance

If terrorists have chosen a specific target, that target area will most likely be observed during the planning phase of the operation. They do this in order to determine the strengths, weaknesses and number of personnel that may respond to an incident. Routes to and from the target are usually established during the surveillance phase. It is therefore important to take note of such things as someone recording or monitoring activities, drawing diagrams on or annotating maps, using vision-enhancing devices and/or having in one’s possession floor plans or blue prints of places such as high-tech firms, financial institutions or government/military facilities. Any of these surveillance-type acts may be an indicator that something just is not right. Nothing is too trivial and should not be discarded as such.

2.Elicitation

The second sign or signal is elicitation. What this means is anyone attempting to gain information about a place, person or operation. An example is someone attempting to gain knowledge about a critical infrastructure like a power plant, water reservoir or maritime port.

Terrorists may attempt to research bridge and tunnel usage, make unusual inquiries concerning shipments or inquire as to how a military base operates.  They may also attempt to place “key” people in sensitive work locations.

3Tests of Security

Tests of security is another area in which terrorists would attempt to gather data. This is usually conducted by driving by the target, moving into sensitive areas and observing security or law enforcement response. Terrorists would be interested in the time in which it takes to respond to an incident and/or the routes taken to a specific location. They may also try to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses. They often gain legitimate employment at key locations in order to monitor day-to-day activities. In any event, they may try to gain this knowledge in order to make their mission or scheme more effective.

4.Acquiring Supplies

Another area to be cognizant of is anyone acquiring supplies. This may be a case where someone is purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons or ammunition. It could also be someone storing harmful chemicals or chemical equipment. Terrorists would also find it useful to have in their possession law enforcement equipment and identification, military uniforms and decals, flight passes, badges or even flight manuals. If they can’t find the opportunity to steal these types of things, they may try to photocopy IDs or attempt to make passports or other forms of identification by counterfeiting. Possessing any of these would make it easier for one to gain entrance into secured or usually prohibited areas.

5. Suspicious People Who Don’t Belong

A fifth pre-incident indicator is observing suspicious people who just “don’t belong.” This does not mean we should profile individuals; rather, it means we should profile behaviors. These include suspicious border crossings, stowaways aboard a ship or people jumping ship in a port. It may mean having someone in a workplace, building, neighborhood or business establishment that does not fit in because of their demeanor, their language usage or unusual questions they are asking. As an officer you may respond to a complaint that may appear to be a routine investigation but results in something much larger in significance.

6.Dry Runs

Another sign to watch for is “dry runs.” Before execution of the final operation or plan, a practice session will be run to work out the flaws and unanticipated problems. A dry run may very well be the heart of a planning stage of a terrorist act. If you find someone monitoring a police radio frequency and recording emergency response times, you may very well be observing a “dry run.” Another element of this activity could include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow. This stage is actually our best chance to intercept and stop an attack. Multiple dry runs are normally conducted at or near the target area.

7. Deploying Assets/Getting Into Position

The seventh and final sign or signal to look for is someone deploying assets or getting into position. This is a person’s last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs. It is also important to remember that pre-incident indicators may come months or even years apart. It is threfore extremely important to document every fragment of information no matter how insignificant it may appear and forward this information.

 

   This advisory is not meant  to create unnecessary fear or anxiety within our community and I would like to reiterate that there are no threats specific to Lakewood; however, we all need to be aware and vigilant since the potential for a terrorist attack is always there. Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida have gotten away from large spectacular terroristic events since they require lengthy planning tmaking them more likely to be detected. Instead they are encouraging “home grown” terrorists who act independently with shorter time lines and consequently are harder to detect.  

The  Police Department will be taking extra precautions over the next several days and the upcoming holidays. Please help us to protect you and the community by reporting any suspicious activity without delay.  You may feel a little foolish doing it but then again you may be reporting the observation that stops a terrorist attack.

Thank you.

   Chief Rob Lawson

 

 

 

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