Friday, Nov 6th, 2009
A soldier turning on his comrades at Fort Hood, an Afghan policeman killing the British soldiers who trained him – two uncannily similar events in two days, but incidents which, across the Western world, security authorities have been planning for and dreading.
Since the Mumbai attacks counter-terrorism planning has seen a major shift. Those charged with thwarting or reacting to future terror attacks were alarmed by Mumbai. The shootings in Afghanistan and Fort Hood carry echoes of the atttacks in India with the added danger that the enemy has come from within.
The new-style of attack relies not on the suicide bomb, or the al-Qaeda adherence to massive casualties, but on the shock of a gunman, or a handful of gunmen, opening fire in a place where people felt safe and secure – the luxury hotel, the police base, the US Army camp.
Lord West, the Security Minister, told a Commons committee last month that the prospect of such an attack in Britain was at the forefront of his mind. The minister said he and his team were “doing a lot of work” on “the Mumbai issue”. He painted a bleak (and rather prophetic) picture of what might happen: “It is extremely difficult in an open society to stop there being initial casualties, if you have some men who have been trained to military standard, three or four of them, with relatively heavy weapons.
“The damage they can cause in the first few minutes is dramatic. One has to use other methods of intelligence and the agencies and all of these sorts of things; because if it gets to the stage where they are actually on their 159 bus going up Whitehall carrying that [firepower] you have got a problem.”
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This article was posted: Friday, November 6, 2009 at 5:07 am