Terror in Norway and Global Threats

               Anders Breivik carried out one of the worst solitary attacks in modern history, killing as many as 98 people, mostly teenagers, in a few hours.  First, the bomb blast in Oslo and then the nearly 90 minute shooting spree on Utoya. 
               Breivik admits to carrying out the attacks, but denies any wrongdoing.  He also stated that there are two other cells.  These cells may have been involved or preparing to carry out further attacks.  Le Monde reported that he had over 600 Facebook friends who could have been affiliated through a group called English Defense League.
               As the investigation moves forward, the press from around the world is already beginning to try to make sense of the senseless.  Breivik has been characterized as a right-wing extremist, possible Neo-Nazi and one reporter even called him a Christian fundamentalist (wow!).  I have to say that I haven’t heard of any Christian groups that support Breivik’s killings at all, so that last is a real ridiculous stretch.  And of course, the focus has quickly turned to immigration policy as the heart of this killer’s manifesto focused on the unchecked immigration from other areas, including Muslims.  One priest from Oslo was quoted saying that she was happy it was not an Islamic terror attack and seemed to think that it was a good thing a white right-wing extremist was behind it, as if that changes the fact that 90-some people are dead.
               Breivik claims that he joined a re-incarnated Knights Templar, in London, in 2002, and the groups’ intentions were to protect Europe from a second, modern Muslim invasion.  Little is known about the group at this point, but I am sure that there are investigations under way to learn as much as possible. 
               It is natural to try to understand why something like this happened.  It is also critical from a security and law enforcement perspective to get into the suspect’s mind in order to understand the thinking and use that to prevent future attacks.
               The risk is that it is easy to be sidetracked by names or labels.  It has been said that generals are always trying to fight the last war that happened with their tactics rather than the current threat.  That is the problem with being too focused on labels, such as right wing or anti-immigration and so on.  We cannot forget that threats come from many different angles and different directions and it is hard to define one bad guy to watch for.  In fact, the world is full of many, vastly different bad guys and gals, threatening us in various ways.
               These threats can come from the left or right political views, such as ELF and ALF.  They can be foreign and domestic.  In fact, the lines can become rather blurry at times.  For example, the bombing attacks in London in 2005 were carried out by ‘homegrown’ terrorists - citizens of the United Kingdom that were influenced by Islamic terrorists.  Fifty-two victims were left dead.
               In Mumbai, India, the attack that left 174 dead in November of 2008 was carried out by Pakistani terrorists.  The most recent bombings in Mumbai are still under investigation.  In Madrid, al-Qaida-inspired terrorists left 191 people dead after explosions on the train system.  And, of course, there were the al-Qaida attacks of 9-11 that killed almost 3,000. 
               Whether the threat is from Osama Bin Laden or Timothy McVeigh, the basic steps to prevent and protect ourselves is the same.  It is important that everyone be alert to suspicious activity, such as what happened in Times Square when a car bomb failed to detonate and passersby alerted authorities.  Security staff should be trained to look for signs of surveillance or practice runs, a precursor to most attacks. 
               And last, a risk assessment designed to recognize global threats should be conducted.  This can focus on known or likely threats, vulnerabilities in the protection program and critical areas or assets.  A risk assessment needs to be ongoing, a process constantly re-evaluating new information and changes in the threat environment. 
               Do not lose your focus on all the potential threats and become obsessed with only the latest news of the day or get distracted by the labels used. 

Have you wondered how to deal with an aggressive employee or phone threats against a staff member?  Do you have the security system you should?  Are you worried about how your business would handle an emergency situation?  There are lots of worries as a leader in your organization.  Security risks do not have to be one of them.  I am available for business coaching sessions with a focus on security and operational risk management.  The first session includes a money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied.  For more information, send an email to eric@businesskarate.com. 

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