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Posts Tagged ‘Homeland Security’

Israeli Anti-Terror Expert: America’s Challenges And Successes

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Juval Aviv’s exploits as an Israeli counterterrorism agent are widely believed to be the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film “Munich.” After wrapping up his career as a major in the Israel Defense Forces (and reportedly working for the secretive Mossad), Aviv launched a lucrative career as a security consultant and investigator.

His Interfor corporate intelligence firm was hired by Pan Am to investigate the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. After setting up shop in Manhattan, Aviv wrote Staying Safe, a book focusing on how individuals, business entities and families can protect themselves from criminals and terrorists.

In an interview with The Jewish Press, Aviv spoke of the security challenges facing the U.S.

The Jewish Press: Is it really possible to prevent an in-flight terrorist episode in the U.S., considering the size of many major American airports?

Aviv: I don’t believe it is possible to prevent an in-flight episode in the U.S. from ever happening. Terrorists will always be working on new ways to get around whatever security measures are put into place. However, as we have seen numerous times since 9/11, if someone does try something while a plane is in flight, the passengers will fight back, making it very difficult for terrorists to succeed even if they do manage to make it on board a plane with some sort of weapon.

Is another 9/11 or Detroit episode inevitable?

I don’t know about another 9/11, but another attempt to take down an airplane is very likely. Again, whether such an attempt would be successful is another question.

Why has profiling and other security measures worked so well at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, but not so well elsewhere?

The methods used by terrorists are constantly evolving. Many security measures that have been put into place since 9/11 in the U.S. and other countries were in response to specific threat scenarios. These scenarios may not occur again and terrorists will always be coming up with ways to work around whatever new measures are put into place. Also, some of the measures are often randomly and erratically enforced, because to do so for every person traveling through the airport would take too much time.

Behavioral profiling works [at Ben Gurion] because it looks for factors [other than what] an actual weapon or method of attack might be. Someone who is planning to kill a large number of people and probably themselves in the process is going to be nervous, highly agitated. There are certain behaviors that security personnel can be trained to recognize. Ultimately this will be more successful than forcing travelers to remove their shoes or randomly searching the carry-on luggage of old ladies.

Did the Israeli security firm hired at Amsterdam/Schipol Airport fail, or was it the entire system?

This was a systemic failure. There were many warning signs along the way that should have been picked up. The most simple was the fact that someone traveling from Yemen, a terrorism hot-spot, to the U.S. on a one way, cash-paid ticket with no checked baggage should have been thoroughly screened. Regardless of the warning from the suspect’s father, those factors were more than enough red flags to mark this person as a potential threat.

Do you agree with those who say U.S. Homeland Security is hopelessly flawed due to politics, rivalries and ineptness?

I think politics, rivalries and ineptness contribute to the flaws that currently plague U.S. Homeland Security, but I do not believe the situation is hopeless. The United States has had very few incidents of terrorism, either domestic or foreign in origin, in the entire history of the country. The situation this country is facing is relatively new. U.S. Homeland Security has a lot of catching up to do, but I believe they are doing many things right. Since 9/11 numerous terrorist threats have been discovered and stopped.

Will the growing number of Israeli hi-tech security start-ups turn Israel into a global security superpower?

I think Israel has a well-deserved reputation for security expertise and that any security firm coming out of Israel would automatically have a certain cach?. Israeli firms are at the forefront of new security technologies so the possibility of Israel becoming a superpower in the security industry is definitely a strong one.

How does your company assist American businesses, governments, etc.?

Interfor is a corporate intelligence and physical security consulting firm that provides investigative and security services for Fortune 500 companies, major law firms as well as state and federal agencies and international governments.

The Social Impact Of Terrorism: A Human-Centered Perspective

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

What is the social impact of terrorism?

As scholars, we like to approach issues of Homeland Security analytically. Analytically, of course, the social impact of terrorism is contingent upon a number of factors, especially:

1. The nature of weaponry involved (WMD terrorism vs. conventional terrorism);

2. The degree to which vulnerability is generally felt;

3. The actual vulnerability of people, structures, and institutions;

4. The extent of area affected (limited/localized attacks would likely elicit more efficient governmental response and recovery);

5. The capacity of society and government to react and recover (itself contingent upon many other factors); and

6. The actual and expected duration of terror.

But, candidly, we don’t have to get too analytical to understand that the social impact of terrorism is normally captured far better by poets than by the physicists or political scientists.

We may recall with benefit a famous poem by W.B. Yeats, with its grievously prophetic imagery of horror: “The blood dimmed tide is loosed/and everywhere the Ceremony of Innocence is drowned.”

Like Yeats, Bertolt Brecht was also right on the mark. Says Brecht:

“Truly I live in dark times… The man who laughs has simply not yet heard the terrible news.”

We, here in this Purdue University assembly this afternoon, HAVE heard the terrible news. We KNOW, with little hesitation, that mega-terror is already on the way, and that there is little that can be done to prevent it altogether. Whether it be a form of bio-terrorism and/or a “dirty bomb,” our enemies are dedicated to enlarging the “blood- dimmed tide,” and their capacities to carry this out are undeniably considerable.

Here in Indiana, at the Newport facility, there is enough stored VX nerve agent to literally kill or injure a staggering number of people (some scientists even speak of millions of possible casualties). How shall we extrapolate from such unimaginable levels of lethality to questions of “social impact?”

We seek answers to precisely this question this afternoon. We who are in the Homeland Security field must continue to look for viable remedies. We have no other choice.

As someone who has worked closely for almost a quarter-century with Israeli and American intelligence communities, I know that there ARE ways to deal with even the most barbarous forms of terrorism. But these ways have various unpalatable qualities, and are difficult at times to reconcile with democratic principles and the laws of war. Moreover, as we now face instances of WMD terror, the prospective costs of terrorism are so overwhelming that distasteful trade offs between individual liberties and public safety could become irresistible and altogether necessary.

For a brief look at the true human meaning of terrorism, we have distributed copies of an Op Ed piece that I wrote especially for The Jewish Press with Chicago-area radiologist Dr. Michael Messing. Please read it closely. For another, consider these comments from a physician friend of mine in Israel, Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt (a general surgeon) about one of his many encounters with the victims of suicide- bombing terrorism. These comments were written a few years ago, after one of many Palestinian terror attacks upon Israeli women and children:

“Dear Lou,

‘The terrorist attack took place at the other end of my street, some 800 meters from my building. I’ve been many times in this wedding hall, so I could easily have been one of the people there. I would be dead now, and/or my wife and children…. ‘Despite the fact that I’m the director of a surgical outpatient clinic, on these events I naturally always go to Hadera’s hospital to help my colleagues. That’s what I did today. I ran to the operating room where I entered into an almost heroic operation to save the life of a middle-aged woman. One of the terrorist bullets had ruptured her liver, stomach, bowels and major vessels. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So we opened her chest to cross- clamp the aorta, while undertaking direct heart massage. All in vain. She died of massive hemorrhage; blood and feces were strewn everywhere.

‘I then changed my surgical clothes and entered another operating room to begin another operation. This time the patient was a young guy with an abdomen full of shrapnel. We had to resect the lower part of his ruptured large bowel, but ? at the end of the operation ? he was still bleeding profusely through his wounded hip. I left the room while the orthopedic surgeons began to operate on his right hip. I’m sure that he will also die.

‘Many other patients were treated by other surgeons. My surgical dress was covered in blood. I took a shower and here I am, at 4:00 in the morning, writing to you, my dear friend in Indiana. I just can’t sleep now. Although very tired, I’m too distraught because after all these years of seeing blood and death on my hands, I never quite get used to it.”

So here is what lies behind the news reports of terror; behind the sanitized statistics; behind the anesthetized and hermetically-sealed calculations of the scholars.

This report concerns a very “limited” instance of terrorism, at least relative to what we now face in both Israel and the United States. And this report is from a hardened battlefield surgeon. My friend Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt has stitched up countless torn bodies in three major wars.

(To be continued)

Copyright (c) The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of ten major books and several hundred articles dealing with terrorism, war and international law. He has worked for over a quarter-century with American and Israeli counter-terrorism communities, and is current Chair of “Project Daniel,” advising Israel’s Prime Minister on nuclear security issues. His columns have appeared in such newspapers as “The New York Times”; “The Washington Post”; “USA Today”; “The Chicago Tribune”; “The Indianapolis Star”; “Haaretz” and “The Jerusalem Post.” Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press in New York City.

Rudy To Washington

Friday, November 30th, 2001

The word circulating around usually well-informed parts of town is that President Bush will be appointing Mayor Giuliani to a very prominent position connected with the war against terrorism. Director of the CIA and Director of Homeland Security are the two posts most often mentioned. Because the Bush Administration is fast losing points in the polls and the confidence of the American public seems to be waning, we don't regard this as mere speculation. The trio that is now most publicly and prominently dealing with the terrorism problem ? Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft ? haven't been able to get their act together and are signalling disarray and aimlessness.

This is not all that surprising since there is little in the respective resumes of these political appointees to suggest that they bring anything special to the table in the way of expertise in combatting terrorism.

It would seem that the time is ripe for the Bush Administration to put politics to the side and appoint the one individual who has shown he can get us back on track. And that person is the Mayor of the City of New York, Rudy Giuliani. His appointment as the director of the CIA or Homeland Security would not only bolster the confidence of the American people ? something which is now so sorely needed. It would also send an unmistakable message at home and abroad that we are serious and we are up to the job.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/rudy-to-washington/2001/11/30/

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