Terror threat on our doorsteps

NO ONE can have missed the news on the Paris terrorist attacks in November – and the subsequent small scale attack in London.

It’s now a sad fact of our modern lives that we are at an increased risk of being caught up in a terrorist-motivated attack.

Security risk is now something which is not restricted to higher-risk regions like Africa or the Middle East – unfortunately, it’s on our doorsteps and is likely to increase in scale and frequency as our governments seek to engage IS directly.

The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) was established in October 2006, and its stated aim was to establish a caliphate which extends across the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.

Since then, with brutal efficiency ISI has carved out a large chunk of territory that has effectively erased the border between Iraq and Syria and laid the foundations of its declared caliphate/Islamic state.

ISI (now IS) is a well-organised and funded movement, which is working with sister terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram (Nigeria) and Al Shabab (Kenya) in key regions and is able to provide security and financial support and training to the disenfranchised and radicalised individuals that join its ranks.

IS is now engaging in its strategy of expansion into Europe and beyond.

Countries like the UK, France and the US that are involved in a coalition which are currently carrying out airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are targets for terrorist attack.

IS will be incredibly hard to beat.

It’s driven by a fundamentalist ideology that controls and measures results through acts of violence and terror.

Many future Paris-style attacks are anticipated to be on a “lone actor” basis.

This is effectively a radicalised individual who sets out to carry out a targeted attacked on a lone basis.

These attacks are difficult to anticipate and are highly effective in creating a culture of fear.

Recent changes in FCO advice bear witness to that – previously, the Government had advised that should British nationals be caught up in any incident that they should find a place to shelter.

The advice is now focused on getting as far away from the incident as possible.

The strategy of the IS (lone actor) terrorist is to seek and kill as many as possible before being killed or detained.

For organisations operating in – and through - some of the world’s major trade hubs, there’s a risk that your business (and staff) may be impacted directly by a terrorist incident, or due to being in its proximity.

Your business has a duty of care to support staff safety.

Take the Paris attacks as an example.

If any member of your team had been in Paris that weekend, would you have known? How would they have contacted you and how would you have managed the situation?

How does a business continue to operate and ensure staff feel comfortable travelling and carrying out their day-to-day roles?

A long-term strategy for security management is important; it needs to be simple, low on resource need and high impact and also focus on those areas which will deliver most value to the organisation.

Some quick and cost effective ways through which businesses can start to mitigate their potential risk are:

  • Simple emergency response, communications and incident management protocols.
  • Journey management and pre-deployment briefings.
  • Building a security awareness culture.

Security management does not need to be complicated, it just needs to be effective in helping the business to respond quickly and effectively to any incident and in helping to protect colleagues.

Timeline – Increased Frequency of Attacks

December 15, 2014: Sydney - a self-proclaimed Muslim sheikh, Man Haron Monis, took 17 people hostage inside a chocolate café. Two hostages died, while another four people, including a police officer, were injured in the incident.

October 2, 2015: Sydney - a 15-year-old Iranian-born boy shot dead a 58-year-old accountant, who worked for the New South Wales Police Force, The boy then shot at special constables guarding the building. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said “We believe that his actions were politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism.”

November 13-14, 2015: Paris - the single deadliest terrorist attack in French history. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks and President Hollande named the Paris attacks an "act of war".

November 18, 2015: Marseille - a teacher was attacked, insulted, taunted and stabbed in the streets of Marseille by three men. One of the three was wearing an IS t-shirt and they showed the teacher a cell phone image of Mohamed Merah, the terrorist who carried out the 2012 Toulouse and Montauban shootings as they stabbed him.

December 6, 2015: London - two people were slashed at Leytonstone tube station. Eyewitnesses claimed the knife attacker shouted 'this is for Syria'