Term Paper: Preventing Terror Attacks

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Assassination, Terrorism & Kidnapping

The author of this report is asked to look at three different terrorism scenarios and answer to three main points for each scenario from a proective service operations standpoint. First, each scenario will be discussed in terms of the measures that should be applied to as to allow maximum protection for the individuals and organizations involved. Second, it will be discussed the likelihood that any attacker or attackers will be successful in their attempt to cause damage to the person or the organizations involved. Finally, the overall magnitude of the threat will be discussed and pondered for each scenario. The three scenarios involved will be assassinations, terroristic attacks and kidnappings. While it is impossible to account for every contingency and possibility, it is indeed possible to prevent many chances for these events to take place and/or to mitigate what happens if and when they do.


In regards to assassinations, the scope, depth and breadth of who is truly subject to assassination, at least in countries like the United States, is fairly narrow but rather hard to do well. The list would mostly be comprised of senators and other legislature members such as United States Senators and House or Representative members. To a lesser extent, their family may be at risk as well. Other obvious examples are the United States President, the United States Vice President and the cabinet members of the United States President (Fein & Vossekuil, 1999).

There are measures that can and should be taken to avoid assassinations, if attempted or planned, from being successful. First, and this is something that is always done, there should be decoys and/or the use of armored vehicles to transport someone who is realistically subject to an assassination threat. The United States President is a good example of this. The limousine that is used to transport the President is heavily armored and the security around the car is very advanced. When it comes to air travel, there are actually two different planes that look and operate like Air Force One…one has the President and the other does not and which one is which is very much on a need to know basis. For people with lesser means and resources, controlling access to the person in question and/or to control the venues in which the person moves through and appears at is usually enough.

As for the likelihood of success, that is based on two main things. The first is the overall preparation and prevention that is in place. If that preparation is done very well, this alone will limit the chances of success. The other would be the preparation and plans of the person trying to execute the crime. People that try to kill the President or someone similar are usually sloppy and unbalanced, but all threats can and should be taken seriously. The key is to address any and all rumors and chatter. Even some threats that are almost certainly false should at least be looked with the person making the alleged threat or the people close to one issuing the threat be examined and interviewed to verify whether a threat truly exists. Overall, though, the likelihood of any of these events actually being successful is extremely minute. Even so, no chances should be taken because the magnitude of the threat to the country is extremely high given the impacts, both monetary and morale-based, would be expansive and extensive.

Regarding a terrorist attack in general, the sorts of measures that can and should be undertaken can be both restricting and unfair to the people that are involved. For example, if a President speaks somewhere, the guest list, venue and other major factors have to be controlled and this can ruffle a lot of feathers due to inconvenience and bureaucracy. On top of that, it is impossible to account for all contingencies and possibilities and this even goes more for terrorism in general as the list of potential targets is much more expansive than a simple assassination. As such, high value venues and people should be given highest priority with a stronger focus on chatter and rumors so as to allow proactivity to shut down any major legitimate threats.

The magnitude of a general terrorism threat can vary widely. The scope of potential aftermath can be severely limited so long as high-value targets including people and venues are protected from as much harm as is reasonably possible without infringing on rights and so forth. That being said, the likelihood of success if fairly certain so long as the plan actually ends up being executed simply because chaos, death and dismemberment is the goal and any amount of it is a good thing in the eye of a terrorist. For example, the Boston Marathon bombing last year only killed three people but it terrorized and/or maimed hundreds of thousands people (if not millions) in some manner or form and that was the goal all along. The two men known to be involved were captured and/or killed but there was still probably "success" in their minds as they wanted to affect the hearts of minds even of people that were not actually killed or otherwise physically maimed or harmed. In short, the likelihood of success in a general terroristic attack is much higher than a targeted assassination but the ability to conceal and protect high-value and high-risk targets make the likelihood of a resounding success much less likely. For every World Trade Center attack, there are thousands of ones that have much less efficacy. The chances of something like the 2001 World Trade Center attack recurring is not impossible, but it is exceedingly unlikely even with the recent missing Malaysia plan and so forth. Even if that plane got close to a target with the intention of hitting it, it would likely be shot down before then.

The final scenario to be discussed is kidnapping. This involves taking forced custody of a person (or persons) with the motive for doing so varying a lot. From a protective services stand point, this can involve all of the people mentioned in the assassination section but can also include family members of the same including children, nieces, nephews, wives and so on. Reasons for the kidnapping of political targets or family members thereof are usually done to extort money, power or influence from the family member or governing body in question. Use this strategy is not heavily used or plotted in the United States and is much more common in areas like the old Russian bloc countries and Africa. Assassination is much more common in the United States than kidnapping but the latter should be taken seriously.

As for measures to protect against kidnapping, they would vary widely depending on the likelihood of a target being taken and who that target is. For example, the children of Michelle and Barack Obama are obviously escorted to and from school (or anywhere else) due to the high likelihood that they can or would be taken as a means to use them as leverage against the President. The magnitude of a kidnapping happening will be massive but the chance of a hostage-taker getting what they want is exceedingly slim when talking of the people that work in the protective service operations sector o the United States even if it tears at the heartstrings of the family and country. However, the involvement of the police and/or other measures is usually a given and use of cell phone tracking and/or computers can usually be employed to ascertain who is involved with the plot and/or where the person is being held. Quite often, killing the hostage is not the goal and/or the person taking the hostage is very sloppy and/or inexperienced thus making finding them quite simple to pull off with the right technology and tactics.

The general way to go on all three types of crime/terrorism mentioned above is to prepare as much as is possible for known or at least likely threats and react swiftly if/when they rear their head. Just ignoring the threats or becoming complacent is unwise and this is true when speaking of heads of states as well as just regular people who for some reason encounter people or situations that put them in peril and this would include insiders and friends (Bulling et al., 2008). Often times, terrorism and kidnapping boils down to a crime of opportunity and whoever happens to be around is just an unfortunate coincidence for the victim or victims in play and this is true even of politicians and their friends and families. It is impossible to expect that all potential be targets can be protected all of the time from kidnapping. Kidnapping is not unlike general terrorism in this regard (Baum et al., 2009). However, there are obviously some targets that are more high-value and more likely than others and this would obviously include the United States President and his immediate family, the Vice President and his… [END OF PREVIEW]

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