Not Surprising We are “Woefully Vulnerable”

Today on a Sunday morning news show two guests talked about some of the greatest threats and vulnerabilities faced by our country. Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Larry Ellison, the Co-Founder of Oracle both spoke of the threats our country is facing. Senator Johnson spoke about the two greatest threats to our country being homegrown violent extremists and cybersecurity. Not surprising that Senator Johnson stated that regarding cybersecurity “we are incredibly vulnerable.” He further stated that China has been stealing billions of dollars of industrial and military secrets which will impact our military advantage if allowed to continue.

Larry Ellison regarding the cyber threat spoke about criminals stealing credit cards and state actors who want to gain intelligence. A Chinese national was arrested after he used computer malware to gain access to 21.5 million records. Ellison stated that this hack by China got resumes of government employees. Then this state actor analyzed all the information and determined that these are all the people who work for the US government. Then the state actor asked, “How come some people who work in the Embassy in our capital city aren’t in the list of government employees? Maybe they all work for the CIA?” Ellison stated that the Federal government using its “own internal cyber defenses only detects about 2 ½ percent of incidents.” Ellison gave two other examples involving vulnerabilities to include the hacking of Healthcare.gov and the issue of Kaspersky Labs. The US government banned the use of a Russian software security company in government computers due to Russian espionage. Larry Ellison spoke that for years the government didn’t tell anyone of this threat. And this let Kaspersky Labs become an enormous company putting software in people’s computers.

Senator Johnson summed it up stating we are “woefully vulnerable.” In the US we tend to be reactive rather than proactive and there are too many examples of this. What we need is better partnerships and information sharing regarding current and potential threats and vulnerabilities. Without industry, government and citizens working together and closing vulnerabilities we are at risk of losing any competitive advantage we hold in the world. There are numerous state actors to include Russia, and China seeking to gain an advantage by stealing our industrial, economic and military secrets. Nor can we forget criminal actors seeking economic gain by hacking our citizens.

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Remembering the Beirut Peacekeepers Thirty-five Years Later

beirut memorial

                                    “So few know or remember what we did in Beirut.”

                                                                                            -Sgt. Joe Chowske-                                                                                                                                   24th Marine Amphibious Unit

Thirty-five years ago at approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 Oct. 1983, a terrorist bomb

destroyed the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) headquarters building in the Marine

Amphibious Unit compound at Beirut International Airport. The catastrophic attack

took the lives of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

The bombing was carried out by one lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes Benz

stake-bed truck that accelerated through the public parking lot south of the BLT

headquarters building, where it exploded. The truck drove over the barbed wire

obstacle, passed between two Marine guard posts without being engaged by fire,

entered an open gate, passed around one sewer pipe barrier and between two

others flattened the Sergeant of the Guard’s sandbagged booth at the building’s

entrance penetrated the lobby of the building and detonated while the majority

of the occupants slept. The force of the explosion [12,000 pounds] ripped the building

from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself. Almost all the occupants

were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.

Hezbollah and the Iranians were perfecting a new tactic, one which would cause

such destruction and hurting numerous countries as other terrorist groups sought

to copy and modify this new way to attack a stronger enemy. On Sunday, October 23,

1983, at 0230 a.m. President Reagan was awakened with the horrific news that a

suicide bomber had driven a truck bomb into the building housing the Marines in

Beirut.

Later that same day President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive

109 which outlined how the US would respond to the Lebanon Crisis. In the

document, President Reagan directed that the US Ambassador in Beirut should

schedule a meeting with President Gemayel and the Lebanese government and

that Ambassador Robert Dillion should “formally request that the government

of Lebanon sever all diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran that

was behind this attack using its proxy Hezbollah.

Thirty-five years later the world is still dealing with the Hezbollah/Iranian tactic of

truck bombings.  As Thomas Friedman, the author of “From Beirut to Jerusalem

stated:

So it was with the Marines in Beirut-good, milk-faced boys who stepped into the            middle of a passion-filled conflict, of whose history they were totally innocent and       whose venom they could not even imagine.”

Take Sgt. Joe Chowske’s words to heart today and remember those Peacekeepers.

Rember those young Marines and what they sacrificed for peace and their country

thirty-five years ago in  Beirut.

 

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts of Great Bravery Honored in Sir Robert Peel’s London

The George MedalCeramic KnifeCeramic Knife

The Queen of England awarded the George Medal to three individuals who confronted armed terrorists to protect others in London. Charles Guenigault and Wayne Marques, both police officers and Ignacio Echeverria, a civilian were awarded the George Medal. The George Medal was created to reward civilians for acts of bravery by King George VI in 1940 during the Blitz of London.

On June 3, 2017, three terrorists targeted pedestrians on the London Bridge ramming them with a rented Renault van. After driving off the bridge the terrorists crashed into a metal railing next to the Barrowboy and Banker pub. The three terrorists armed with ceramic knives and wearing fake suicide explosive belts passed Southwark Cathedral then moved into the Borough Market area stabbing people. Police Officer Charles Guenigault was off-duty and out with friends. Armed only with courage he charged in and tackled the terrorists. He was stabbed numerous times in the abdomen, back, head and leg. British Transport Officer Wayne Marques was armed only with a baton and yet took on all three terrorists. Marques was stabbed in the head, hand and leg. Both of the police officers were severely wounded. One of the terrorists then began to attack a woman.

Ignacio Echeverria was on his bicycle that evening pedaling with friends towards the White Chapel area when he observed the attacks. Echeverria stopped and took his skateboard from his back and struck the terrorist with the skateboard surprising him. This gave several people time to flee. Two of the other terrorists then stabbed Ignacio Echeverria, a Spanish citizen who worked in London for HSBC. They then moved on to attack others before being killed outside the Wheatsheaf pub when armed police arrived.

Ignacio Echeverria didn’t have to come to the woman’s assistance, but he did. He didn’t have a baton, a pistol or other weapon so he used his skateboard. Echeverria wasn’t trained to handle terrorists attacking people.  How many people would intervene with what appeared to be terrorists with suicide bomber belts and knives attacking people? Yet several unarmed police officers and a civilian did just that. Ignacio Echeverria ended up losing his life when the two other terrorists stabbed him. Echeverria’s parents accepted the George Medal for their son from the Queen.

After this terrorist attack occurred, and the three terrorists were identified one name was readily known even to me. In 2016, Khuram Butt had appeared in a documentary entitled “The Jihadis Next Door.” As part of Abu Haleema’s extremist group that Director Jamie Roberts followed around London filming it should have been apparent to anyone that watched Roberts’ documentary that this group of individuals needed to be under extended close surveillance. But the reality is that surveillance resources can’t stay on a target forever. After a period when the targets don’t engage in overt acts of crime or terrorism are often pulled off a target in lieu of higher priorities. At one point in the documentary the “Jihadis Next Door” were in Regent’s Park in London praying with the Black flag of ISIS. Abu Haleema, a radical cleric, and Butt were associated with Anjem Choudary. One year later Khuram was seeking to rent a larger truck to be able to kill more people but his payment was declined so Butt was forced to rent the smaller van. Besides Khuram Butt, the other two London Bridge terrorists were Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel created the London Metropolitan Police. Peel would have been proud of his modern-day London Police Officers and a member of the London community. Peel said that “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”  Peel’s words ring true even today. The acts of bravery by these three courageous men and others that day bring out the best of what Peel thought of citizens and police in London.

Decision Making for Law Enforcement in Low Light Conditions Training

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NVCJA and the TRC Presents

Decision Making for Law Enforcement in Low Light Conditions

October 18-19, 2018 Time 2 pm – 10:30 pm, Northern Virginia

Participants will need their vest, duty gear and flashlight

“To see a suspect without being seen is a great tactical advantage.”

Most law enforcement training takes place during daylight hours. Very little law enforcement training is conducted at night or during low light conditions. Participants will explore a number of decision-making scenarios in low light and darkness conditions. Officers will examine the tactical use of light, proper deployment of a handheld flashlight, moving in low light conditions, moving from light to darkness, traffic stops at night, burglary calls, ambushes, communications and other tactical scenarios and challenges anyone who has worked evenings and midnights faces.

Register with Kevin Fox at kfox@nvcja.org For more information on course content contact Walter Purdy at Purdy@terrorism3.com