Friday, July 25, 2008

Our response to terrorism

Terrorists/ anti social elements don't require sophisticated weapons or even successful execution of their plots to cause panic, fuel media frenzy, and effect massive deployment of law enforcement - well beyond the location of their attack. This has been the case in many terrorist events over the past years, especially in those places where terrorism is not a daily occurrence.

When we react broadly to a narrow event, we are reacting just as the terrorists would hope...
Let's stop a moment to rethink our response, because that's where the terrorists thrive:
Five different communities respond and are influenced, each in its own way, by a terrorist attack:
·The Terrorists - whose agenda is to create maximum physical damage, financial disruption and overall panic.
·The Public - genuinely terrorized by the event, wants the government to do everything possible to stop the terrorist, no holds barred.
·Politicians and Public Officials - are pressured to make a response that usually involves a lot of spending, and putting in place hasty strategies.
·Law enforcement and security professionals - attentive to the will of the public they protect, spare no resources or effort to catch the terrorists.
·The Media – who let's face it, sometimes benefit from and even effect news coverage that is dramatic- thus providing publicity for an event...precisely what the terrorists want!
The common denominator in the response of these five sectors is that they are fused with emotion. That emotion detracts from our ability to respond with a logical, strategic and appropriate campaign. After all, we play to the hands of the terrorists by reacting in an exaggerated way, and by introducing measures and procedures that are excessive in relation to the actual terrorist problem at hand. Combined, these five agendas produce a general response that is too often out of proportion with the actual event that stimulated the response in the first place.
Typical "Dry Run" event by terrorists:
Serial bombings using low intensity explosives> Explosions> Study the following through the eyes of the Media: Efficacy of timer devices, Reaction of the public, Response of the Police/ Bomb Squad, Watch the equipment/ techniques used by security forces/ bomb squad, Check the response of Relief activities...And then plan for the real attacks with the help of these inputs! (please note that the organizers of these blasts will study all these in the comforts of thier hideout, thanks to the live coverage from various angles by the Media)
A few things are important to bear in mind as we try to define a logical and effective reaction. Each of the five communities has a role to play here.
·The Media have the responsibility for accurately and objectively reporting a terrorist event, as exaggeration would only serve to increase the terrorist effect.
·Law enforcement must remain both sensitive and sensible, in other words, not letting their emotions cloud their judgment when investigating terrorism or protecting the public from it.
·Politicians are responsible for not leveraging terrorist attacks as a platform for pushing other agendas or justifying irrational expenditures. They should also refrain from making hasty comments/ statements which might hamper investigations. They should also avoid useless exercises like visiting the victims of terror attacks in the hospital/ visiting the dead, which will not only hamper the medical management but also burdens the local administration and the police – who otherwise should be involved in relief measures/ investigations. (It is a well known fact that, the terrorists target hospitals for secondary attack, as they know that victims of primary attack would be rushed to hospitals along with curious onlookers/ security agencies/ politicians and media!)
· The Public has the responsibility to look at terrorist events in perspective,
and has an important role in balancing the response of the media, law enforcement and politicians, by trying to learn as much as they can about terrorist methods of operation, to understand what the real threat is to them, and identify the appropriate measures to stop them. Ignorance of these methods reduces the public's ability to act as a check and balance to the policies and activities of the other sectors who represent and serve them. Public should also minimize use of cellular network at the time of such terror attacks to prevent network jam (remember that by doing so, you may save lot of lives!)
· If all of us (media, public, law enforcement) were to temper our reaction and response to terrorist events, we would lessen our attractiveness as a terrorist target and reduce the overall impact of the attack.
(this is the full text of the keynote address delivered by Dr VSAcharya at the state level meet on “Modern terrorism, efficiency of criminal justice system and role of civil society” at Barkur on 5th June 2008...)

Recap on recent bomb blasts : IISc Bangalore December, 2005 ;March 12, 1993: Mumbai :thirteen bomb explosions resulted in up to 250 civilian fatalities and 700 injuries. April 14, 2006: Twin blasts took place in Delhi"s Jama Masjid injuring at least 13 people on Friday evening at around 1730 hrs IST. September 8, 2006: 31 killed, 297 injured in Friday"s twin bomb blast in Malegaon. November 23, 2007: Multiple blasts in Faizabad, Varanasi, Lucknow within five minutes of each other killing at least 12 people in Uttar Pradesh.May 18, 2007: Eleven people were killed and more than 50 others injured in a bomb explosion inside Mecca Mosque located near the historic Charminar in Hyderabad.

Report any suspicious activity-object to the nearest police station- Remember that all blasts occuring on Fridays need not be terrorist attacks- they may be the acts of your neighbourhood anti social elements!/ Do not unncessarily visit the blast sites- there can be a second attack/ Do not hamper the work of police-investigating agencies- you may hamper relief operations/ Do not spread rumours/ Do not make unnecessary phone calls- you may crowd the network and cause inconvinience to the needy/ Be prepared to donate blood-enroll with local voluntary organizations/ Have faith in administration- Together We Can Curb Terrorism!
Have Indians become insensitive to acts of terror? Analysis on the usual sequence of events following a terror attack: "Any time now, the State government will blame central intelligence agencies for not alerting them. The Centre, in turn, will blame some unpronounceable outfit whose benefactors are across the border. By primetime, the Prime Minister (depending on the toll obviously) will make a macho statement something to the effect of “We will not cow down to terror”. The Union home minister, whose very sentence-construction sends terrorists scurrying for cover, will pronounce that “such incidents will not deter the government from pursuing its policy of dealing with terrorists in a resolute manner.”
Tomorrow morning, the Congress which is in the opposition in Karnataka will blame the BJP, which is in power, for being interested in anything but governance. The BJP in turn will blame the Congress for revoking POTA and making this a soft-state. Editor types will stand up and say it is time for “moderates” to speak out. And just when the TV guys were rubbing their hands in glee that something finally had happened to keep them busy over the next 36 hours, bam, the toll is just two. How do they fill “We, the People” and “Big Fight” and “Weekend Edition” this weekend? Some compensation to the dead, wounded will be declared...."
...excerpt from
Karnataka Police won`t blame any organization, till investigations are complete:
Rehearsal/ Dry Run? opines Raman, Central Intelligence in...


Anonymous said...

Great post..there is no need to panic.

Sending people home from office and schools is an idiotic idea. Why not let them stay where they are instead of sending to unsecured public places?

It seems to be we are so used to these attacks, even the responses are so scripted.

Next day comes "Demand for Chief Minister resignation", "Failure of law and order and intelligence" and as you said useless rituals like visiting victims in hospitals for the media circus.

ರಾಜೇಂದ್ರ ಬೆಳಗಾಂ said...

ಜಿಲೆಟಿನ್, ನಟ್ ಬೋಲ್ಟುಗಳನ್ನು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿ ಮಾಡಿರುವ ಬಾಂಬುಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದಾಗ ಇದ್ಯಾರೋ ಸ್ಥಳೀಯ ಚಳ್ಳೆ ಪಿಳ್ಳೆಗಳ ಕೆಲಸವೆಂಬ ಸಂಶಯ ಬರುತ್ತದೆ.

ಕೆಲ ದಿನಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೋಮು ಗಲಭೆ ನಡಿಸಲು ವಿಫಲ ಯತ್ನ ನಡಿಸಿದ ಶಕ್ತಿಗಳೇ ಇದರ ಹಿಂದಿರ ಬಹುದೇ?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

To be alive we need to be lucky all the time.... to kill us they need to be lucky just once...

Great post...

Those terrorists must be relaxing now after completion of their mission. The security beef up across india will be relaxed after sometime and these elements get active...

Anonymous said...

Good analysis.

SHREE (ಶ್ರೀ) said...

Sensible post. Why not certain rules be imposed on media? It's high time media enjoyed the freedom, and still did nonsensical things. The national channels like CNN IBN and NDTV understood the blunder they were committing, and corrected themselves in the eve of terror attacks on mumbai, but Times now continued to go Live from the spot. It was very insensitive.