Revenge Attacks for the Death of Osama bin Laden

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Two suicide bombers attacked a military training facility in Northern Pakistan, killing dozens of people.  Published reports reveal that the Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack, calling it revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden by US Navy Seals on May 1st.   

In the attack, two Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers donned explosive vests packed with ball bearings and nails, entered a paramilitary training facility, and detonated their explosives. This resulted in the death of dozens of recruits and the injury of dozens more.  As Taliban leaders boast that more attacks are inevitable and the world braces for the next retaliatory attacks, one can only wonder if locations in the United States may be the Taliban’s next targets. Although the Taliban has not identified any specific targets, homeland security executives and Federal, State, and local emergency managers have to be concerned that the next attacks could possibly be in our own backyards.  Many jurisdictions have prepared or are preparing emergency response and COOP plans for their respective jurisdictions.  Additionally, some are putting these plans to use in tabletop and full scale exercises.  I cannot over-emphasize how critical this sort of preparation will be in the days ahead.  Furthermore, now is the time for our intelligence community to more aggressively investigate, uncover, and prevent potential terrorist attacks like the one that happened in Pakistan.

The Taliban’s attack in Pakistan was deadly and symbolic.  One must wonder why the Taliban chose to attack a military facility in Pakistan.  After all, isn’t Pakistan the location where Osama bin Laden was holed up in a compound for the past several years?  Perhaps the attack in Pakistan was a message to the world that any country with diplomatic ties to the U.S government could be a potential terrorist target.  If that was truly the message, imagine the statement the Taliban could make by replicating the Pakistan attack on US soil.

Currently suspicion lingers that the Pakistani government was aware of, or perhaps concealing, the fact that Bin Laden was hiding out in the town of Abbottabad.  Yet local emergency managers cannot afford to be distracted by the cloud of suspicion surrounding the concealment of Bin Laden. Instead, the focus must be on preventing these attacks from occurring locally.  Every emergency manager must ask themselves, “can the human destruction of two suicide bombers in Pakistan be replicated here?”  As one suicide bomber expert explains, “Once the bomber approaches their target with a vest packed with explosives, it’s too late.”  He further indicates, “The most effective way to disrupt a suicide bomber’s attack is to detect and disrupt the plot in the planning stages.” 

Diverting these types of terrorist attacks will not be easy.  We must study the sequence of events leading up to the attack and attempt to identify an investigative similarity that will assist us in preventing future attacks.  Studying the habits and backgrounds of these suicide bombers is also critical.  Where did they reside, how were they transported to the scene of the attack, and who assisted them with planning and execution of the attack?  These are just some of the questions we must answer before we can identify and develop an accurate profile of a suicide bomber.  Until we have uncovered the answers to these questions and become more proficient at preventing terrorist attacks, we must continue to educate our public about “If you see something, say something.”   The eyes and ears of our Nation are powerful tools in the war on terror; we must continue to exploit those tools.

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