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08-22-2005, 19:15 #1
Terrorists May Case Scene As Homeless
Terrorists May Case Scene As Homeless By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 44 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Asking for increased vigilance in the wake of the London bombings, the government is warning that terrorists may pose as vagrants to conduct surveillance of buildings and mass transit stations to plot future attacks.
"In light of the recent bombings in London, it is crucial that police, fire and emergency medical personnel take notice of their surroundings, and be aware of 'vagrants' who seem out of place or unfamiliar," said the message, distributed via e-mail to some federal employees in Washington by the U.S. Attorney's office.
It is based on a State Department report that was issued last week. The State Department had no immediate comment Monday.
The warning is similar to one issued by the FBI before July 4, 2004 that said terrorists may attempt surveillance disguised as homeless people, shoe shiners, street vendors or street sweepers.
The e-mail stresses that there is no threat of an attack and that it is intended to be "informative, not alarming."
Homeless people easily blend into urban landscapes, the message said.
"This is particularly true of our mass transit systems, where homeless people tend to loiter unnoticed," the e-mail said.
It referred to a recent incident in Somerville, Mass., in which a police officer became suspicious about someone dressed as a street person. The officer questioned the man, discovered he had a passport from a "country of interest" â€” typically a Middle Eastern or South Asian nation â€” and a checkbook with a questionable address, the e-mail said. The investigation is continuing, it said.
Somerville police did not immediate provide comment.
Three British citizens were indicted in the United States earlier this year on charges they conducted surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange and other East Coast financial institutions in 2000 and 2001.
Discovery of the alleged terrorist plan last year prompted the Homeland Security Department to raise the terror alert for the targeted buildings, located in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J. Security in those cities also was tightened.
Homeland Security also raised the terror alert for mass transit following the July 7 bombings in London. The alert was lowered on Aug. 12."Speed, Surprise & Violence of Action"
08-24-2005, 18:55 #2Lieutenant
- Join Date
- May 2005
What should one do in this case? Be like Jullianis NYC, and lock up the homeless? Is there something we can do............?
08-24-2005, 22:44 #3Originally Posted by LearninginMN
In short, the only thing you should take from this is to pay attention to what goes on around you and not take things for granted. We tend to write off and ignore things we see every day or think are commonplace, which is a fact that can be exploited by terrorists (or criminals) looking to be invisible while in plain sight.
08-25-2005, 01:51 #4Rookie
Originally Posted by nsedet
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
Anyone responsible for security of a fixed site, or securing routes of travel, needs to be aware of what we call "natural surveillance positions". Not simply the purely tactical considerations, such as relative heights of buildings surrounding the site, locations of vacant lots and unoccupied buildings, foot and vehicular avenues of approach, etc., but positions and activities that are common in the area and that would normally not be given a second look by anyone who spends their days working in that environment.
Vagrants are an example of a specific activity at a known location that is a common occurance at many places - and thus would not normally cause site security to bat an eye.
Other examples are coffee shops or restaurants with outdoor seating that provides a view of the site in question, mass transit points - a busstop where someone could sit unobtrusively for an extended period of time, or any other activity at a known location such as these or the vagrant examples which would permit anyone in the group opportunities for observation of the target site.
Along with specific individual indicators that Nsedet mentioned, it is important to maintain awareness of vehicular and pedestrian traffic patterns. Even vagrants move along. Most in LE who work a particular area are well aware of the patterns in which the people move in the ebb and flow of day to day life - the morning rush to work, the afternoon rush home, the lunch crowd, regular mass-transit patterns, the differing flows of kids, housewives and the unemployed, big crowds that move in and out of sporting events and concerts, the individuals and small groups that only move at night - we all know what it is to suddenly sense that something "ain't right". That's our subconcious letting us know that some small thing isn't fitting the pattern of our little world - and its a bad thing.
But you can shutdown your subconcious alert center just as easily as you can develop your awareness. Never let yourself get too comfortable.