Thursday, January 23, 2014
In late December, an Islamic military group in Dagestan claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people and injured dozens more.
The same group then threatened to strike the Olympic Games in Sochi, which is about 300 miles west of Dagestan.
Russian authorities are now feverishly searching for at least three possible female suicide bombers, one of which is a 22-year-old widow of a radical Islamist who was killed recently by Russian security forces.
According to various intelligence reports, these female suicide bombers, who have been dubbed “black widows,” are also responsible for a number of previous attacks throughout the country.
As part of a massive pre-emptive security operation, photos of two women in veils and Muslim headdress have been distributed to the media, various hotels, other tourist sites in Sochi, the resort town and host city of the Olympics, in hopes that these women can be located before they strike.
The critical question now becomes: Can the Russians guarantee the safety and security of their international guests and their own people from these and other potential terrorist threats?
Right now, no one knows the answer. What we do know is that these women are like chameleons. They will blend in to the local population, plan their dastardly deeds, and strike when it is least expected.
The Russians know who they are and why they are a perceived threat, but for how long have they known? When did they acquire this intelligence? Why weren’t these women monitored from the outset of their husbands' demise? How many more are there? Is there now a program in place to monitor and account for them?
It is all about knowing the threats that exist, gathering the intelligence, and pro-actively responding to actionable intelligence when possible.
It seems like the Russian government has let these women slip through the cracks of their security and intelligence services, at least for the time being, a lesson that every country battling radical Islam can learn from.
In a post-9/11 world, there is nothing more important than a capable intelligence system that allows local, state and the federal authorities to not only communicate but share critical intelligence that allows them to protect their citizens. We here in the United States have made tremendous strides in many ways, but we have still had our failures.
Could the Boston Marathon bombing have been prevented? Many believe so. Were mistakes made? What were they? Who knew what and when?
That is probably what the Russians are asking themselves today, as they must sit on pins and needles until they find these terrorists or the games come to an end without death and destruction.
As we stand on the sidelines praying for the safety and security for all those who will be attending the games, including our own Olympians, we can learn from these events.
Proactive and pre-emptive intelligence gathering and following up on actionable intelligence will lead to the success of combatting terrorism, both now and in the future.
You cannot fight an enemy that you cannot see. You cannot stop an attack that you do not know is going to happen. And, no matter how quick you think you can respond, you are never going to be quick enough to stop the bloodshed and death once a terrorist detonates an explosive device with the intent of causing mass casualties.
Intelligence is the answer.
The faster those fighting this war against terror learn that, the safer we are all going to be.
-BERNARD B. KERIK
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Thirty years ago today, I was working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when the BBC began reporting that a suicidal terrorist had driven a water tanker loaded with explosives into a four story building in Beruit, Lebanon, that housed a detachment of U.S. Marines.
More than 240 of our soldiers died in that attack.
It was the first and most substantial attack by radical Muslim extremists that I had seen up until that day, and it wouldn’t be the last. Unfortunately, I would see many more, including the worst in world history.
I don’t think we learned much from that attack, or from the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, an American businessman who was thrown overboard, from the cruise ship Achille Lauro, by Palestinian terrorists less than two years after the Beruit bombing.
To me, those events were the beginning of radical Islam’s war against the west, a war that has only increased over time. And, with each attack that has followed, we have learned more and more about our new found enemy, most importantly, that it looks like they’re here to stay.
If history has taught us anything, it is that good will prevail over evil.
As we continue in that battle between good and evil, let us not forget those that sacrificed, so that we could live in freedom.
God Bless those soldiers that died on October 23, 1983, and those that have died since.
May they never ever be forgotten.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
As we enter the sixth year without a terrorist attack on United States soil, the pain and devastation of 9/11 remains unforgettable. But despite our memory of that day, there is danger that our success in thwarting additional attacks may eventually cause us to let our guard down. That’s just what the enemy is counting on.
Who is the enemy? We know them by various names; al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Ansar al-Islam, Hezbollah, Hamas and many others. Occasionally, we see pictures of these groups in the press or media, mixed in with the other news of the day. But to really know and understand them is to realize that the threat to our country remains great.
In a documentary titled, “Obsession-Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” the threat to the United States and the rest of western civilization is depicted in a jarring, disturbing reality. And although there is a cost for the one hour documentary, the trailer on the web site (www.obsessionthemovie.com) is enough to tell a very chilling story.
The documentary shows a culture of terror that is being taught to a generation of Muslim youth. At the heart of this culture is the proposition that America is the great Satan and must be destroyed. It is the basis for the indoctrination of ten-year old Muslim youth to a life dedicated to terror. And it is being taught to these children as matter-of-factly as our children learn the alphabet.
If you watch the documentary, you must ask yourself where these children will be in five, ten or fifteen years from now. What is being done to protect our country now and in the future? It is naïve to believe that the threat from radical fundamentalists is going away anytime soon. And that makes it imperative that the protections against terror implemented since 9/11 remain in the forefront of our political debates.
But with the passage of time, the lack of a 9/11 repeat, a new Congress and a new presidential debate heating up, I am afraid that our attention is easily turning to other matters. No one should be lulled into thinking that the terrorists have given up on their intention to strike America again. We learned from 9/11 that the fanatical jihadists are not disillusioned by failure and can take years to plan what Usama bin Laden would call a “spectacular event”. In fact, the 9/11 Commission Report points out that plans to attack the World Trade Center a second time began as early as 1995.
And for every successful strike, such as the bombings in London, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Madrid, or for every failed plot, such as the plans to flood lower Manhattan by bombing the Holland tunnel, planning begins anew. We all remember the bombing of the USS Cole in October, 2000, but few remember that this bombing was preceded by a failed attempt ten months earlier against the destroyer, USS The Sullivans in the same Yemen port where the Cole docked later that year. The January attempt failed when the terrorist’s bomb-laden craft sunk before reaching its target. But after the Cole attack, the ranks of al Qaeda swelled as fanatical Muslims flocked to bin Laden and his cause and today nearly seven years later, those like him are still out there, still recruiting, and still plotting. So, whether you watch the Obsession documentary, follow daily news reports or study our history, you must realize that the threat against the west by radical Islamic fundamentalists is today more aggressive as ever. And unlike World War I or II, Korea or Viet Nam… this is an unconventional enemy that you can’t see or touch, that wants to die for their cause and prays everyday that they get to do so. It is an enemy with a hatred for America and the west that we have yet to understand. Most importantly, let us not forget that they are not only at war with America, but also with western culture and civilization. They are also at war with their own… other Muslims with which they differ in belief.
That is the enemy… that is the threat. As they continue to plan and plot against us, I have to wonder… do we have the courage, the patience or the resolve to fight the fight that must be fought in the years to come.