Terrorism....Threat perception....India and U.S.

This article is about terrorist threat perception as of now in light of the Juvial Aviv's views and my personal views on the subject from an Indian perspective. Juval Aviv was Golda Meir's bodyguard. She appointed him to track down and bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took the Israeli athletes hostage and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games. He was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie ' Munich ' was based. In a lecture in New York City, He had predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News stating publicaly that it would happen within a week. At the time, O'Reilly laughed and mocked him saying that in a week he wanted him back on the show. But, unfortunately, within a week the terrorist attack had occurred. Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East ) to the Bush Administration about 9/11 a month before it occurred. His report specifically said that the extremists would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments. American Congress has since hired him as a security consultant and he has predicted that the next terrorist attack on the U.S. will occur within the next few months. about the hijacking of airplanes this time, because the terrorists will never try and hijack a plane again knowing that the people onboard will not go down quietly again.Just like me Aviv believes that the world has been reactionary in handling terrorism rather than proactive in developing strategies that are truly effective.
For example:
1) Our airport technology is outdated. We look for metal, where as the new explosives are made of plastic.
2) When some one tried to set his shoe on fire, everyone has to take off their shoes as a security check and if some suicidal maniac sets his underwear on fire one day, security will have us all travelling naked! Every strategy we have is 'reactionary.
3) The future terrorist attacks on the airports will target busy times on the front end of the airport when and where the passangers are checking in. It would be easy for someone to take a few suitcases of explosives up to a busy check-in line, and walk away to the restroom or as if to get a drink, and then detonate the bags even before the security gets involved. In Israel, security checks bags even before the passengers enter the airport. That should be the format all over the world.

As per this expert and the threat perception as perceived by serving or retired security and detection officers like me, the next strike in America will take place where large groups of people congregate. (i. e., Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos, big cities ( San Francisco , Chicago , L.A. etc.) with focus on shopping malls, subway, train stations etc along with small towns of America not being spared this time. The attack may involve five to eight cities or towns. The use of suicide bombers may be ruled out as all that the devils agents will need to do is to park a car loaded with explosives near the target and walk away. All this is appericiated and known in the intelligence circles, but the U. S. government does not want to 'alarm American citizens' with these facts. He and many of us who think alike also say that the next level of America's terrorists will be the Middle east Arab or Afghan and Pak Americans educated in American schools and universities and has warned against 'students' who frequently travel back and forth to the Middle East or Malayasia and Indonesia. Aviv has also advises U.S. to stop relying on satellites and technology for intelligence and instead wants the U.S, to follow Israel, Ireland and England ’s examples of human intelligence. Above all as per Aviv America needs to engage and educate it’s citizens and not treat its citizens, 'like babies'. Who 'can't handle the truth' and will panic if they understand the realities of terrorism. Aviv recently carried out a security test for the Govt. by placing an empty briefcase in five well-travelled spots in five major cities. The results? Not one person called 911 ( 100 in India ) or sought a policeman to check it out. In fact, in Chicago , someone tried to steal the briefcase! In comparison, Aviv says that citizens of Israel are so well 'trained' that an unattended bag or package would be reported in seconds by citizen(s) who know to publicly shout, 'Unattended Bag!' The area would be quickly & calmly cleared by the citizens themselves.

All governments should understand that the citizens are, the best first-line of defence against terrorism. We in India also need to realise it fast and the government needs to take some fast action regarding this citizen education issue through social PR campaigns. An other issue is educating people about how to react to a catastrophe, natural or man made. ’Does a family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? We should all have a plan that is easy enough for even our youngest children to remember and follow. The U. S. government has in force a plan that, in the event of another terrorist attack, it will immediately cut-off everyone’s ability to use cell phones, blackberries, etc., as this is the preferred communication channel used by terrorists and is often used as a trigger to detonate the bombs as well. How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event of your not being able to speak to each other on the mobiphone to which we all are so much used to? You need to have a plan.
All this is so true for India and Indians as well. In India too we need to educate our citizens, our children about the methods to deal with such contingencies. . We often think that if the neighbour’s house is on fire it’s for the fire brigade to come and put it out. We need to change all this. We are a society divided on such stupid and idiotic lines as religion, caste and creed etc. When a sect leader got shot in a foreign country half a state of north India started burning and Indians as a protest started burning their own national property and the property of innocent and helpless fellow Indians. Property worth thousands of crores was looted and arsoned in the recent violence in Punjab. These lines of sectarian and religious division are so strong that I have a personal experience to share. A janta market in Phase 3b1 of Mohali caught fire and was up in flames. I reached there to find a huge crowd of spectators; I with a few others risked my limb and life in helping extinguish the fire and stood on the boundary wall between the burning inferno and the adjoining gurudwara with fire raging right there under me and with the help of a pipe connected to a gurudwara motor I kept spraying water on the shops and huge mango trees adjoining the gurudwara and a few houses. As a trained soldier I had the zeal to make sure that my mission of not letting this inferno engulf either the gurudwara or the adjoining property at least is accomplished. I did accomplish my mission and was going back home when some people from the gurudwara came and took my address as they wanted to appreciate my effort. I thanked them and humbly said I just did what I thought I should have done. But they still insisted that they would like to formally recognise my effort and thank me. Any way it never happened as it must have become difficult for the management to appreciate the effort of a perceived non-Sikh or some one not belonging to the congregation of that particular holy place. Well I have highlighted this story just to present the mindset that we have developed even after 60 years of independence that we are more Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims or any thing else and less of Indians. When Indian students are being attacked in Australia there is no social reaction but cities can burn if religious or caste issues are involved. It’s a tragedy. A bigger threat to India, even bigger than terrorism, is it's easily flammable social fibre. Keeping in mind the views of the security adviser to the U.S Government, Juval Aviv and my views on international terrorism with an Indian perspective through my own experience I feel that India is as threatened by the menace of terrorism as America is but if we want, we can turn the situation around. Our politicians have to wake up to the fact that their irresponsible use of religion and caste as a tool to divide, create chaos and rule is responsible for the prevailing chaos and this has to stop. They also must realise that all religious and social platforms that have been used to divide people can now be used to unite them. There should be a nation wide public relations campaign launched by the government making all the places of worship and their management bodies as stake holders to national unity and are important contributors in an effort to unite India and launch awareness in masses against what they can do and how they should react to any catastrophic situation. Imagine millions of different places of worship talking of brother hood. The word tolerance should be done away with as it stinks of tolerating some thing that is intolerable and this world should be replaced with awareness. All religious places should become windows of awareness for masses where by they become aware that religion is not about differences but similarities and that united we stand a better chance to fight and eradicate all kinds flues , may it be chicken, swine or terrorism.
I am sure the governments will and should listen to this voice of the people. The verdict in the recent elections is for development, and it can only take place in a secular, enlightened and aware environment. It’s a mission that can be accomplished by turning the religious and social platforms and other attached paraphernalia in to platforms of countrywide Public relation campaigns for positive change. Don’t forget that every mullah, Bhai, Pujaari or priest is as such, by default working as a communicator and an agent of propaganda and PR for his own point of view, but the need of the hour is to motivate these people and bring about attitudinal changes in them so as to transform these social agents in to campaigners of peace and nation building by making them stakeholders to national growth and unity by involving them in educational PR campaigns that can change our country in to not just a UNITED STATES OF INDIA. But more than that the .UNITED PEOPLE OF INDIA’. Let us start this by organising lectures and seminars on brotherhood, national pride and workshops to educate and train citizens in handling threats like terrorism and disease and let the venues for such workshops be our religious places. Every thing from trainers to requisite infrastructure is in place. All that we need is a strong will, a clear vision and good Intentions. Let this approach be the latest weapon against terrorism and other national and international level threats. Nothing empowers more than education and mass education, awareness and mass training is mass empowerment. Lets empower India against any and all threats. Together we can and together we will accomplish this mission.

by.................Balwant gurunay

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