April 18, 2013
There are no safety guarantees in settings like the Boston Marathon, especially with terrorism adapting to security protocols, Russian ‘Alpha’ Special Forces team-veteran and vice-president of its International Association Aleksey Filatov told RT.
And since this tragedy, the worst terror attack in the US since 9/11, has revealed major domestic security gaffes, and it would become hard for anyone to speak against whatever anti-terror initiative President Obama comes up with, Filatov also indicated.
RT: Can you give an overall expert assessment of what has happened, from a security standpoint? Could this terrorist act have been averted?
AF: I think what happened in Boston was definitely a terror act. And despite the fact that expert analyses showed the explosives to be of quite low yield, I think the terrorists have achieved their objectives. The American public, and world public as a whole were struck by the news and the pictures of what took place in Boston. So, in terms of the terrorists’ desire to strike panic into everyone’s hearts – they were successful. To discuss the negligence of the American special services in this situation would be unbecoming, unprofessional and, frankly, stupid. We know that the last serious terrorist attack on American soil had happened way back in 2001. Such a long stretch of time since, given the number of enemies and the attitude toward the US in many parts of the world, shows how effective US security services are at what they do. I’d just like to say that giving a 100 percent guarantee of safety in such a situation is virtually impossible. Terrorism changes, it adapts with time to the norms and security protocols of its targets. To secure a 1-2 kilometer track completely in this scenario is next to impossible.
RT: Could you comment on the standard operating procedures, or the preventive measures normally in place under the given circumstances?
AF: The most effective intelligence and security agencies are those that work to prevent such things from happening. This is normally done by inserting agents into the suspected terrorist group, which in the end normally leads to an operation to arrest multiple members of the group before an attack is carried out – usually on the very day. Such cases are commonplace, but they are not advertised much. Major resources are spent on preparations for such undercover missions. As far as events like the Marathon go, there is normally a human shield of officers, coupled with sniffer dogs. But despite the manpower, these measures may not always be effective: dogs may not pick up the scent from distance as well as they do up close. The technical arsenal here is quite primitive, and to evade these cordons and avoid being picked up by dogs or detectors, is not an impossible feat for a trained terrorist.
RT: Could you speak a bit more about the kind of terrorist preparation that goes into something like this?
Well, from the simple construction and low yield of the explosives, I can tell you that we should be looking out not for the skill of the person carrying out the attack, but at the intentions of its organizers. We shouldn’t take for granted the fact that no one claimed responsibility. These things were meant to detract attention from its true purpose and its real organizers. A very low quantity of explosive was used – but the political impact of the crime was absolutely huge. The entire world was watching. Thankfully, not many casualties emerged, but that was not the point. The explosion was planned to perfection; it happened at the exact time and place as was intended. The organizers are clearly very serious professionals who know what they’re doing.
RT: Could you personally speculate on who might have carried out the attack?
AF: Of course, the number one suspect, according to many experts, are radical Islamists, having been actively clamped down on worldwide by American forces. Many correctly point to North Africa and the Middle East. However, the chain of events gives credence to another hypothesis – one I think has its rightful place in the discussion. On the one hand, we hadn’t seen a terrorist attack on US soil for 12 years. This may have led to a relaxing of efforts on the part of the US agencies. On the other hand, however, American society has long been harboring a feeling that, while they live in relative peace, their soldiers are coming home in body bags. The people themselves feel discontented with the fact that they don’t come in contact with the much propagated threat of terrorism while that takes place. The White House has recently been countering this dilemma by announcing their withdrawal from direct military confrontations with terrorism on foreign land, instead opting for a less involved financial and training backing they now offer to foreign governments in their own fight against terrorism. All of a sudden, we get this terrorist attack for which no one claims responsibility… this begs the question,“what will happen next?” I think American society will eagerly change their mind again, choosing to view the last 12 years of peace and quiet as credit to the security services and agencies that protect them. The agencies come out as having shown that active involvement of US forces in the fight against terrorism abroad works, basically. So, I think that President Obama and the White House may need to go back on their promise of a lesser, direct foreign involvement, and instead revert to sending troops abroad once again, spending big sums on operational costs and so on. We know for a fact that Americans show this incredible potential for bonding in the face of adversity. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who will be willing to disagree with anything the US president says or does next regarding terrorism.
RT: Do you think that what happened might then be beneficial to Obama, or only create more problems?
AF: I think the US government, the Democrats, will be able to pull out of this one successfully and relatively painlessly. Despite the agencies’ failure to prevent the attack, it will only serve to increase American presence and military involvement worldwide.
RT: Do you think this will raise or lower the tensions in the international arena? What might this entail?
AF: Well, I’ve never been a supporter of the Libyan strategy; we can also take a look at Syria and the arming of the opposition there, which is fueling a civil war…. All of these things have and will continue to be presented in such a way as to step up the so-called war on terror. It will effectively untie the US government’s hands and allow them more freedoms in military operations that only yesterday might have aroused major criticism from the American public. Unfortunately, American politicians will only gain from all this. We may see a new Libya, a new Syria, and so on. The pursuit of US national economic and financial interests on foreign territory will continue unhindered.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.