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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What & Who discovers terrorist plots?

    I have long been intrigued over the role of the public in the early identification of terrorist plots, with post scattered in several threads and hearing a variety of high-level speakers give differing answers, or no answer at all.

    Hat tip to an Indian friend who pointed to a US study I'd missed:
    research done by North Carolina based Homeland Security Solutions, a private group, proves this. They examined 86 terror attacks between 1999 and 2009. Of this, 18 were carried out, including 9/11; 68 were foiled; 20 each were detected by the public and federal agencies, 13 through advance intelligence and the local police detected 15.
    The cited report awaits reading and I shall return another time, meantime the summary states:
    More than 80% of foiled terrorist plots were discovered via observations from law enforcement or the general public
    The link is:https://www.ihssnc.org/portals/0/Bui...lues_Strom.pdf

    In the UK historically there has been very little public information, although of late officialdom cites two examples.

    This is a thread in progress.
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    David, this should be an interesting and worthwhile line of study that potentially could increase the effectiveness of our unofficial civilian surveillance methods (meaning civilians looking for suspicious activity, not law enforcement intruding in civilian lives without just cause). Our public (in the U.S.) is sensitized to varying degrees to detect suspicious behavior, yet that could still be enhanced through public awareness programs (training for detecting both terrorist and criminal pre-execution behaviors). Although much improved since 9/11, our biggest challenge seems to be law enforcement's ability to receive these reports and fuse these reports in a common database (that local, state and federal can all access), and then have enough trained analysts to connect the dots. Fortunately, when want to be terrorists are dumb enough to buy certain materials and ask questions that makes the hair on the back of your neck raise, that is normally enough to prompt local law enforcement to investigate. For terrorists and criminals that are more sophisticated, like the 9/11 terrorists, the key is connecting the fuzzy dots.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 08-09-2011 at 04:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Blindness in Turkey

    This is copied from a post added 23/1/10 to a thread on Turkey's experience.

    One of the few open source articles that provides some context for the role of the public is from Turkey:http://ccj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/2/142 (Behind a pay wall, although I have a copy).

    In November 2003, a series of coordinated suicide bombings were carried out by al-Qaeda in Istanbul. The targets represented Israel and the West, including two synagogues, an HSBC bank, and the British consulate. The attacks resulted in 68 deaths and more than 700 injured. The investigation and arrests that ensued revealed that the network involved in the bombings had trained in Afghanistan. Of particular interest was the interpersonal web that grew from the four suicide bombers as well as the range of materials confiscated in the investigation. (My emphasis)Specifically, nearly 300 people were identified who had some knowledge of the planned attack. Of these, 48 were viewed as hard-core committed terrorists, leaving approximately 250 community members who were not ideologically committed to al-Qaeda’s goals and who had some information that potentially could have been used in preventive action.
    Chilling and possibly a reason why it is the only example in the public domain I know of, with numbers.
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    Default The most effective tool

    In June 2011 a Saudi diplomat at a lecture stated:
    The most effective tool is the citizen in the neighbourhood and their reports to the police. That tip-off starts the process and this has been a tremendous tool for the KSA, especially since 2006'.
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    Default 21/7/2005 bombings - London lesson learnt

    In November 2005 after the 7/7 bombings Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, stated:
    It is not the police and the intelligence agencies who will defeat crime and terror and anti-social behaviour; it is communities.
    He also referred to the role of the public, acknowledging the information came after the 21/7 attacks:
    A local authority worker identified the flat, which three men shown on the CCTV images had frequented: this was the bomb factory. However, he also mentioned that he had found dozens of empty peroxide bottles in the waste bins. Had we had one of our neighbourhood policing teams in place then he probably would have told us about what he had found. Peroxide is the basis of the bombs.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pre...dimbleby.shtml
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    It is not the police and the intelligence agencies who will defeat crime and terror and anti-social behaviour; it is communities.
    True if:

    A formal or informal community watch is organized (either self organized or organized by local government officials) and sensitized to detect and report on certain types of behaviors.

    Reports are acted upon by the appropriate officials.

    This relatively simple and cost effective organization (formal/informal) would do more to limit terrorist and criminal freedom of movement than the billions we're spending now on technical surveillance.

  7. #7
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Police betrayed me,’ says mother of imprisoned British jihadi

    The headline this week in The Guardian, after a terrorism trial where two young men from Birmingham pleaded guilty - anticipating a minimal two years sentence - and got twelve years:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...P=share_btn_tw

    One family had reported their son's departure for Syria, to the police and to say the least she is unhappy:
    This is not justice. They said I was doing the right thing, that when my son came back they would try to help, but this terrible sentence – all they have done was to set me against my son.

    The police say ‘mothers come forward’, you can trust us, we will help. But now they will see what happened to my son. What kind of person would go to the police if they think their son will get 12 years in prison? Nobody wants to do that. I did not want that.

    He told me many times he wanted to come home....I wanted to go to Turkey, to go to the border and find him, bring him back. The British Foreign Office and the police said ‘you must not go’ but they then did nothing to get him home. They did nothing. My son is not a terrorist, he didn’t make bombs, he didn’t kill anyone, he tried to help. He did a stupid thing and when he realised this he wanted to come home.
    The regional police CT leader:
    This case typifies the challenges both police and families are facing when it comes to young people being influenced to join the conflict in Syria or Iraq.

    These two men had no previous connections to extremist organisations and no police record. They were not known to us.....However, one of them was clearly being influenced by extremists he was talking to online, and he in turn was radicalising his friend. We had no choice but to arrest and charge the pair on their return.
    An appeal has been lodged.

    I expect the jihadists will be cheering this decision, it will reinforce the reluctance of families to volunteer information on their children being radicalised and travelling to Syria / Iraq.

    A short, local BBC report also says this, plus the critical mother talking:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30370272
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    Default When some know, but fear stops them telling

    A Canadian article on what did the Paris magazine attack (Charlie Hebdo) suspect's neighbours did, what they knew and what they did not do - tell the authorities:
    A neighbour in Gennevilliers told The Globe and Mail that she and her husband became so concerned about the behaviour of the Kouachi brothers – whom they could hear loudly reciting the Koran inside their apartment at all hours – that her husband and a friend decided to break in to the Kouachi residence when the brothers left to buy groceries. She said they found a “cache of arms” inside.She said they were caught when the brothers returned home, and that they shoved her husband around and threatened him into silence. That was two months ago.

    .....'They attacked my husband and pushed him against the fridge and said, ‘Are you going to betray us to the police?’

    The answer was no, which partly speaks to the fear the Kouachis obviously instilled in their neighbours, as well as the chasm in understanding between French police and the Muslims who live in the banlieues of Paris.
    Link:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...ticle22372220/

    (Added 14th Jan. The cited 'cache of arms' is very general and there are now reports some of the weapons, the automatic rifles and rocket launcher were purchased in Belguim in early December 2014. See:http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.637034? )
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 04:41 PM. Reason: add passage
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    Default Wife had no idea he was extremist

    Leaving aside the caveat "She would say that now, wouldn't anyone" this report illustrates one of the issues with expecting and seeking help from families and people about terrorist attacks. The headline:
    Charlie Hebdo gunman’s wife had no idea he was extremist, lawyer says Saïd Kouachi reportedly kissed wife Soumya goodbye then told her he was going to Paris to see younger brother Chérif in Paris
    Referring to the wife's lawyer explanation:
    Hours before Kouachi and his younger brother Chérif stormed into the publication’s office in Paris, leaving 12 people, including two police officers, dead, the gunman kissed his wife, Soumya, goodbye and left their home in the Croix-Rouge area of Reims.

    She doesn’t understand at all. Today she feels that she lived a lie. She had a normal life with a normal man, who didn’t show any radical views at home. Even after hearing the information, even after the police arrived and she heard what happened she couldn’t believe it. “I asked her if his religious commitment had evolved and she said he practised Islam, he kept Ramadan, he prayed at the local prayer place, but he didn’t proselytise. At home he was someone normal
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...wife-extremist
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    Default Confidence in policing is needed to get help in CT

    This remark by Sir Hugh Orde, ex-RUC Chief Constable and until recently spokesman for all UK senior police officers, was made in the context of a furore over how the police - facing 20% budget cuts - will respond to reports of house burglary:
    I would add that if we step back from this task, it is inevitable that the essential confidence built up between police and citizen is eroded. This has far wider implications, if one looks for example at the current terrorist threat to this country, it is clear that it has shifted from dealing with highly organised organisations, such as the IRA, to highly disorganised individual actors who self-radicalise within our law-abiding and diverse communities with the intent of committing one atrocity, not some strategic objective.
    The information and intelligence we desperately need to combat this will come from the very communities in which they are embedded.
    If we lose their confidence by simply failing to protect them from crimes that are so personal, a vital link in the intelligence chain will be lost.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...the-scene.html
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    Default The ginger terrorist thwarted by his family

    An aspiring, if mentally ill British man trying to copy Andreas Breivik:
    The family of a ginger terrorist who plotted to attack the Royal Family and put red-haired Prince Harry on the throne has been praised for alerting the police....Police had been alerted to his extremism by his half brother and mother found suspicious items, including chemicals, in his bedroom....
    He was caught after his half-brother Kevin and came across receipts for chemicals in his bedroom.
    He and mother Patricia then searched Colborne’s "extremely cluttered" bedroom and uncovered an assortment of chemicals, the books and other equipment and called the police.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ng-police.html
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    Default Communities Defeat Terrorism

    Adapted from the post added to the thread on UK CT.

    Ten days ago UK CT's most senior police officer started a new campaign to explain and obtain greater public support. In doing so he revealed some new figures:
    ....there were 500 live counter-terror investigations at any time. Information from the public has helped police in a third of the most high-risk investigations, figures show.It has also contributed to stopping some of the 13 attacks - a figure one higher than the last update, given in October.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39176110

    There are two podcasts: Hostile Reconnaissance (23 mins) and Multiple Bombings (18 mins):
    They tell previously untold stories of how terrorist attacks on UK soil were prevented thanks to information from the public.
    Link to the campaign:https://act.campaign.gov.uk/

    The campaign is based on an opinion poll and a review, as the UK police leaders group explains on their website. They are now known as the NPCC and were formerly ACPO. With my emphasis in one sentence:
    The research used to shape the ACT campaign was commissioned by CT policing and carried out by an external agency. In total 2198 adults across England, Wales and Scotland were asked about attitudes towards aspects of CT policing. Key finders were:

    73% of respondents said they were concerned about terrorism.
    17% (top score) of respondents said the main reason for concern is that terrorism is unpredictable and can affect anyone, anywhere.
    75% of respondents said police were working hard to prevent terrorism.
    79% of respondents said it was not just the responsibility of the police to tackle terrorism.
    83% of respondents said it was important communities work together to defeat terrorism.
    29% of respondents said they might not report suspicious behaviour in case their suspicions were incorrect.
    39% of respondents said they were unsure what kind of activity they should be reporting.
    26% of respondents said they might not report suspicious behaviour as they wouldn't want to be seen as wasting police time.

    In addition, CT Policing analysed 100 of our most high-risk current/ongoing operations. In a third of these cases we found that we had received information from the public that assisted the investigation, including new leads or corroborating facts. This has helped us build a stronger intelligence and evidence picture to enable us to confront and manage the threat posed by these suspects.
    Link:http://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/...rrorist-threat

    I have not seen such polling data and such a partial analysis in the public domain before. The polling data and the implications are detailed in a short paper:http://www.npcc.police.uk/ACT%20Camp...20Findings.pdf

    As UK CT policing have '500 cases at any time', the overall contribution would be far lower - 6.6%.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-16-2017 at 11:44 PM. Reason: 40,005v 2.6k up in a month
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    AND what is interesting is the secular impact of those refugees especially coming from Syria and Iraq on the more conservative Turkish population... Side note....far more "tips" about radicalize individuals" are now coming in from those "refugees" than ever before....as they fully understand the "threat" far better than most.

    Moderator's Note

    This post has been edited down to fit here. The original is Post 4 on:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=24796
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-21-2017 at 07:01 PM. Reason: Edited and Mods Note added

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    A Chicago-based academic lawyer has a short note on a different approach; which fits here:
    Community-led counterterrorism presents an untapped opportunity, as it recognises that religiously defined communities have a distinct role to play in responding to growing terrorist recruitment efforts in Europe and North America.
    Link:https://sustainablesecurity.org/2017...nterterrorism/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-04-2017 at 09:36 PM. Reason: 41,635v
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    Default Muslims help on Manchester attack's extremism

    Amidst the BBC News "rolling" coverage of the Manchester attack is this:
    A Muslim community worker has told BBC News that members of the public called the police anti-terrorism hotline warning about the Manchester suicide bomber’s extreme and violent views several years ago.The BBC also understands that Abedi was in Manchester earlier this year when he told people of the value of dying for a cause and made hardline statements about suicide operations and the conflict in Libya.
    The community worker – who did not want to be identified – said two people who knew Salman Abedi at college made separate calls to the police.
    They had been worried that “he was supporting terrorism” and had expressed the view that “being a suicide bomber was OK.” The friends had argued with him, telling him he was wrong but had become so concerned they contacted the police.
    The community worker told the BBC “all of the publicity is about Muslims not coming forward and this shows that they are coming forward and expressing their concerns.”
    The calls are thought to have been made around five years ago after Abedi left school, where he was known to have smoked marijuana and mixed with gangs in south Manchester.
    Greater Manchester Police said they would not comment on the claims.


    Link and item is at 1635hrs:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-en...ester-40007967
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-24-2017 at 03:54 PM. Reason: 45,269v
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    Default Listen to the people they know

    Jason Burke, in The Observer writes again on the 'first line' of defence in CT, after the recent attacks in the UK and his article ends with:
    The only way potential attackers will be identified before they kill and maim is through the most old-fashioned means one can imagine: someone warning authorities about what they plan to do. This can be people in the workplace, the mosque, or at school. Research tells us that more than 70% of Islamic militants who operate alone tell someone of their plans. The first line of defence against Islamic militancy is not our crash barriers or covert operations, nor armed cops or MI5, it is a potential terrorist’s brother, mother, partner or friend.
    Link:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...ly-and-friends
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-13-2017 at 10:33 AM. Reason: 46,942v
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    Default A mother's tale from B'ham

    The reverse of telling the authorities. A mother in Birmingham (UK) whose son left for Syria and died there fighting with ISIS:
    The clues were difficult to decipher; their contexts always allowed for other, perfectly innocent explanations.....With hindsight, I should have questioned more his distancing of himself from his usual social group — and, possibly, the watchful eye of his father. Naïvely, perhaps, I had passed off the changes in Rasheed as his exploring and forming an identity away from his parents. It was the biggest mistake and regret of my life. But ask any parent of teenagers: Would you have done better?
    Link:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/o...dist.html?_r=0

    The mother told the police he had gone to Syria and went onto found a group to help families in such predicaments.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-10-2017 at 08:47 PM. Reason: 48,924v
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    Default Updates and fears

    Moderator adds: Copied from UK CT thread and edited down for this thread

    The Independent:
    Public tip-offs to terror police halve in year, officials warn as more UK plots foiled
    Link:http://https://www.independent.co.uk...-a8741411.html

    From the later:
    Mr Basu said the flow of intelligence from members of the public was vital. “I know some people are still reluctant to speak to us,” he acknowledged. “To them I say, reporting your concerns to us won’t ruin lives, but it might save them.”
    In 2017, more than 31,000 reports were made to counterterror police, but last year the number fell to 13,000.
    In both years, more than a fifth of tips were “very significant”, leading to the identification of a suspect or plot, or aiding prosecutions.
    Locally a senior CTU officer added a little, with my emphasis:
    However, crucial intelligence from the public has helped the police and the security services have prevented 18 terror attacks in just under two years. Twenty-two per cent of all reports we receive from members of the public produce important intelligence which is helpful to our investigations. “Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan and that creates opportunities for police and the security services to discover and stop these attacks before they happen. So if you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence by phone or online. The important thing for people to remember is that no report is a waste of our time. Reporting your concerns to us won’t ruin lives, but it might save them."
    Link:https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/...-west-midlands





    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-26-2019 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Copied from UK CT thread and edited down for this thread
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