The intelligence received indicates that an international terrorist group known for its hatred of capitalism and western culture is targeting a high profile location in a major United States city. This attack will be a start to a violent campaign against the United States. Though the particular time of attack is unknown, it is anticipated within the next thirty days.
Risk assessment and analysis
The terrorist group is known for its hatred for western culture and capitalism. This gives a probability that the attack will target a city or part of a city in which capitalism or American culture is prominently manifested. Cities which have areas which are symbols of capitalism or liberalism have a hire risk level than ordinary cities. It is therefore important that the following cities are considered (Iyad, 1983).
New York is considered the financial capital of the world and is the best example of capitalism in operation. Going by the terrorists’ known hatred for capitalism, New York is highly likely to be a target. Existence of what may be considered symbols of capitalism like the Wall Street and major financial organizations in the city further makes it a likely target for the attack. The statute of liberty and the Times Square may also be viewed as symbols of the western culture of liberalism and may therefore also increase the probability of an attack in the city. The large number of people in New York and in particular the Time Square may also increase the attractiveness of the city as a target to a terrorist group which wants to record a high number of casualties in the attack.
The city of Los Angeles is another likely target due to its symbolic prominence as a capitalist center. The existence of major corporations in the city like the Apple Company and many branches of the major global financial institutions may be viewed by the terrorists as promotion of capitalism and thus make it a target of their attacks. The movie making district of Hollywood may also be perceived by the terrorists as a promotion center for the American culture and thus increase the probability of an attack against the city. The large population in the city also increases the likelihood of an attack since it is the intention of the terrorists to inflict the highest human casualties.
The city of Washington, being the seat of the United States government is a likely target for the attack. The city is full of symbols which represent the American culture and it will be every terrorist’s prime targets. National monuments like the White House, the Capitol, the Washington and the Lincoln memorials are some of the likely targets in the city. Though highly unlikely, an attempt to attack the Pentagon may also be made. Any successful attack on the city of Washington will be considered a challenge to the United States which is considered the most capitalist nation in the world. It would also be a challenge to its value system and its culture.
The gambling capital of the world is another likely target for the terrorists’ attack. There exists no greater symbol of the liberalized American culture than the city of Las Vegas. Legalized gambling and regulated prostitution are some of the reasons why an ultra conservative terrorist group with hatred for American culture may consider the city a target. The high number of tourists will provide the high human casualty for the terrorists.
There exists a possibility that the terrorists may choose another major city other than the above mentioned. It is expected, however, that the terrorists will follow their ideological alignment and target cities in which there exists what may be considered prominent symbols of capitalism and the American culture and where human casualties are likely to be high.
Probabilities of attack
Based on the above analysis of the likely cities where the attacks can be possibly carried out, probabilities of attack can be assigned to the various cities to gauge the probable risk that each city may be bearing.
New York City carries the highest risk of attack since an attack would fulfill all the goals of the terrorists of hitting on capitalism, western culture and having a higher casualty level. New York City therefore carries the highest probability of an attack by the terrorist group.
Los Angeles carries the second highest probability of an attack by the terrorist group. Existence of Hollywood as part of the city increases the probability of attack since it is viewed as the place from where the United States exports its culture to the rest of the world and would therefore attract a terrorist attack meant to get back to the American culture. Areas like Disneyland where high numbers of casualties would result in case of an attack also increase the probability of an attack in the city.
The National Capital ranks third in probability of an attack. This is because despite having the ideological attractiveness for the terrorist attack, the city is the seat of government and thus many of the places in the city have a higher than normal security levels. High profile officials of the government like senators and congressmen all have their own security details and this increases the probability of the terrorists attracting attention and being caught. This reduces the likelihood of an attack in Washington.
Las Vegas ranks fourth in the probability of the terrorist attack. Despite the city having what may be considered thriving capitalism and the extreme of the liberal American culture, an attack would not likely satisfy the terrorists’ wish of high casualties since gambling dens in the city do not carry high numbers of people as would a busy street in New York or in Los Angeles.
There exists a probability that the terrorist may attack another city other than New York, Los Angeles, Washington or Las Vegas. This probability is however small as compared to those other cities.
Likely method of attack
Since it is known from intelligence that the terrorists want to record a high number of casualties and dent American capitalism and culture, it is highly probable that the attack will be carried out using explosives which can cause the highest damage on property and cause the greatest loss of human life.
Likely time of attack
It is expected that the attack will be carried out in the next thirty days. Days on which higher numbers of people may be recorded in any of the high risk areas identified above carry higher probability of attack. This is because the targeted high casualties by the terrorists would be possible. Holidays and other special days in the cities need to have higher alert levels.
Counter terrorism strategies
The strategies that need to be adopted to counter this threat should be majorly pre-emptive. They should try to alleviate the terrorist threat before it occurs and possibly capture the terrorists and diffuse the whole situation. The authorities should send undercover agents to try to get more information on the pending attacks and assist in the preemption of the attacks. Informants could also be employed to deliver information on these attacks, their expected magnitude and the target areas.(Http//www.dhs.dhspublic/index.ssp)
The authorities should use deterrence methods to reduce the probability of the attacks. High police and military presence in the areas with a higher probability of being attacked will act as deterrence to the terrorists. It will also increase the chances of catching the terrorists.
Increased and tightened security checks in points of entry to the country and to the cities having higher probabilities of attack should also be used as a method of militating against the attacks. Points of entry like airports, roads and train stations should have increased security personnel to tighten the situation and record any strange happenings or items or even persons who may lead to the apprehension of the terrorists (Office of homeland security 1999).
Authorities should use the existing infrastructure in the cities to monitor more closely the activities of individuals and groups in the cities with higher probabilities of being attacked and give reports on any exceptional happenings that may lead to the capture of the terrorists before they are able to carry out the attack. The closed circuit television cameras which exist in many parts of the cities can be used in this way.
There should also be increased inter-agency communication to enable easy and fast sharing of intelligence data amongst the agencies. This will ensure that information from different agencies can be consolidated into reliable and comprehensive form which can be used in apprehending the terrorists before they carry out the attack.
The department of homeland security should also increase the alert level to a critical level such as orange or red in the cities most likely to be affected and throughout the nation. This will raise the awareness among citizens and further assist since individuals will be alert for any unusual happenings and will be willing to make reports to the authorities without hesitation (King,1992).
The United States is undoubtedly a world superpower. It should not therefore, let terrorist attacks happen in its jurisdiction as much has been learnt after the September 11 attack by the Osama bin laden led al-Qaida. Measures should be taken to ensure that such plans fail and the perpetrators of this crime are punished. The United States has been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism and thus it would be shame for the terrorists to succeed in our homeland.