Most of us have heard that the terrorist threat index has been moved to “orange,” “high risk,” for only only the second time since the index was created, but what does it really mean:
- How well prepared is the US for another assault? Most experts think if there is another strike, it won’t be another World Trade Center-type attack, though they don’t rule that out. Instead, they say it is more likely to be a “soft target.” That could include hotels, apartment buildings, and tourist attractions. And intelligence officials say they are hearing all sorts of threats.
“It could be a radioactive dirty bomb,” says one intelligence official. “It could be a suicide bomber, any number of things. We know terrorists are here in the US, and we know they have operations in various planning stages. We just have to be prepared.”
At the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS), efforts are under way to coordinate public protection and a response to any attack. “We make preparations based on each situation, each threat, and each bit of intelligence,” says Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for DHS. “But I won’t address the specifics of that at this juncture.” [Christian Science Monitor]
Here is what Risk Management Professionals has to say:
- In light of the following announcement from the FBI National Infrastructure Protection Center regarding elevation of the threat level for terrorist attack to Orange or “high risk of terrorist attack”, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that those who manufacture, distribute, transport or store hazardous chemicals be especially vigilant regarding the physical security of those chemicals.
If your facility has pre-planned a progressive level of protective measures in response to changes in the national threat level, you should initiate those plans now.
With this change in the national threat level to “high risk of terrorist attack”, you may wish to consider the following enhancements to your security posture:
– check all security systems (i.e., fencing, lighting, intruder alarms) and emergency communications systems to ensure they are functioning properly
– reduce facility access points to a minimum required for continued operation
– advise appropriate authorities that your facility is operating at a “high” alert level
– increase security patrol activity to the maximum sustainable level
– where feasible, inspect vehicles, cargo and packages being delivered to the facility
– for critical areas, install additional temporary lighting (or decrease lighting to detract from an area) or vehicle barriers
– be prepared to activate emergency response plans
In addition, EPA recommends that you review EPA’s Chemical Safety Alert entitled: “Chemical Accident Prevention: Site Security,” published by EPA on February 2000 and available on the EPA website at:
The National Infrastructure Protection Center adds this:
HOMELAND SECURITY INFORMATION UPDATE
POTENTIAL AL-QA’IDA OPERATIONAL PLANNING
Information Bulletin 03-001
February 7, 2003
NIPC Information Bulletins communicate issues that pertain to the critical national infrastructure and are for informational purposes only.
Increasing intelligence indicates that the al-Qa’ida terrorist network maintains an ongoing interest in attacking soft, or lightly secured, targets in the United States and/or the Persian Gulf. The likelihood of such targeting may rise in or around the end of the Hajj (a Muslim religious period ending mid-February 2003), according to current intelligence reporting.
During the past five months, al-Qa’ida and affiliated groups attacked a nightclub in a tourist district in Bali, Indonesia, and a hotel in Mombassa, Kenya. Intelligence indicates al-Qa’ida and affiliated groups continue to view apartments and hotels, as well as other soft targets, in the United States and abroad as viable and attractive targets.
Intelligence indicates that various methods of attack could be employed. The recent attacks in Indonesia and Kenya ? as well as the August 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa ? demonstrate al-Qa’ida’s proficiency and willingness to carry out large-scale vehicle bombings. Circumstances surrounding recent arrests in Europe also indicate that al-Qa’ida developed at least a rudimentary proficiency in creating biological and chemical agents. Potential attacks involving radiological weapons should also be considered.
Several U.S. economic sectors should also be considered potential targets, given their significance and past interest by al-Qa’ida:
The energy sector, including tank farms, refinery facilities, and oil tankers.
The financial sector.
Key transportation links, including bridges, tunnels, railways, subways, and civil aviation.
As well, current intelligence suggests that the al-Qa’ida network maintains an ongoing interest in attacking:
Symbolic targets, such as national monuments and recreation and amusement parks.
U.S. symbols of power, such as the White House, the Capitol, and other federal buildings.
The national threat level has been raised from “ELEVATED” (YELLOW) to “HIGH” (ORANGE). This action is based on specific intelligence received and analyzed by the full U.S. intelligence community.
The NIPC encourages individuals to report information concerning suspicious activity to their local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) office, http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm, the NIPC, or to other appropriate authorities. Individuals can reach the NIPC WATCH AND WARNING UNIT at (202) 323-3205, toll free at 1-888-585-9078, or by email to [email protected]
Note: This message has also been distributed through the Chemical Sector
Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC).