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March 1999

Volume 68
Number 3
United States
Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of
Washington, DC
Louis J. Freeh
Director Features
Contributors' opinions and
statements should not be
considered an endorsement by
the FBI for any policy, program,
or service.
Fighting Terrorism Cooperation between federal, state,
The Attorney General has
determined that the publication
of this periodical is necessary in
in the 21st Century 3 and local law enforcement agencies
is the key to combating new terrorist
By John F. Lewis, Jr. trends in the next millennium.
the transaction of the public
business required by law. Use of
funds for printing this periodical
has been approved by the Confronting Terrorism on State and local law enforcement
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget.
the State and Local Level 11 agencies’ antiterrorism efforts are
enhanced greatly by comprehensive
By D. Douglas Bodrero
The FBI Law Enforcement planning and thorough threat
Bulletin (ISSN-0014-5688) is assessments.
published monthly by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation,
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Joint The highly successful Joint Terrorism
N.W., Washington, D.C.
20535-0001. Periodical postage
paid at Washington, D.C., and
Terrorism Task Force 23 Task Forces are composed of various
law enforcement personnel working
additional mailing offices. By Robert A. Martin
together to combat terrorism.
Postmaster: Send address
changes to Editor, FBI Law
Enforcement Bulletin, FBI
Academy, Madison Building,
Room 209, Quantico, VA 22135.

Editor Departments
John E. Ott
Managing Editor
Kim Waggoner
Associate Editors 1 Director’s Message 28 Police Practice
Glen Bartolomei Bomb Threat: A Primer
Cynthia L. Lewis
Bunny S. Morris
19 Focus on Counterterrorism for the First Responder
Art Director Critical Incident Management
Brian K. Parnell in the Ultimate Crisis
Assistant Art Director
Denise K. Bennett
Staff Assistant
Linda W. Szumilo

Internet Address Members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Committee on Terrorism prepared articles for this issue. The Committee
was created in 1986 to counter the international terrorist threat through
Send article submissions to cooperative police activities. Members of the Committee on Terrorism
Editor, FBI Law Enforcement represent a variety of local, state, and federal agencies and departments,
Bulletin, FBI Academy, Madison both civilian and military, from the United States and abroad.
Building, Room 209, Quantico,
VA 22135.

ISSN 0014-5688 USPS 383-310

Director’s Message
Responding to Terrorism

I n many ways, terrorism is unique among

crime problems. It is as old as organized
society but has evolved continually to reflect the
United States and in support of extraterritorial
investigations, domestic terrorism operations,
and countermeasures relating to both interna-
technologies and methodologies of the times. tional and domestic terrorism. This center also
Terrorists are among the most ruthless of crim- reflects the coordinated interagency response that
inals, but their motivation rarely stems from is critical to a comprehensive counterterrorism
personal need or a desire for material gain. strategy. Representatives from 20 federal agen-
Unlike the majority of violent criminals, terror- cies maintain a regular presence in the center and
ists do not know their victims; in fact, one of the participate in its daily activities. This
hallmarks of terrorism is its indiscriminate multiagency arrangement provides an unprec-
victimization. Also unlike most serious criminal edented opportunity for information sharing,
activity, terrorism invites—and even depends warning, and real-time intelligence analysis.
upon—media attention to ensure a maximum The bombings of the federal building in
yield of terror. Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center in
During the past several years, the United New York, and the simultaneous attacks on the
States has witnessed two convergent terrorist U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on
trends: while the overall number of terrorist August 7, 1998, clearly demonstrate that the
incidents has declined, the attacks that have United States remains a target of both domestic
occurred have resulted in increased destruction and international terrorists. This issue of the FBI
and casualties. In 1986, for example, there were Law Enforcement Bulletin focuses on the terror-
25 incidents of terrorism perpetrated in the ist threats that confront the United States and the
United States, resulting in 1 death and 19 inju- FBI and law enforcement response to these
ries. In 1995, only one act of terrorism was threats.
recorded in the United States (the truck bombing It is my hope that the articles in this issue
of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in of the Bulletin will give readers a clearer under-
Oklahoma City), but it resulted in 168 deaths and standing of the challenges posed by terrorism and
over 800 injuries. Our experiences in the United the importance of a coordinated response to the
States reflect a worldwide trend toward fewer, terrorist threats we face. Although the FBI has
but more destructive, terrorist attacks, carried out been designated as the lead federal agency in
to achieve maximum casualties, terror, and media the U.S. government response to terrorism, the
attention. battle against terrorism demands the coordinated
The U.S. government and FBI response to response of the intelligence and criminal justice
terrorism has changed during the past several communities. In recent years, this coordinated
years as well. In 1996, the FBI created the FBI response has resulted in several notable
Counterterrorism Center to expand and integrate successes—the arrest and conviction of the
many of its analytic and operational capabilities. Oklahoma City bombers; the rendition from
The center combats terrorism on three fronts: overseas of Ramzi Yousef—the mastermind of
international terrorism operations both within the the World Trade Center bombing—and the

March 1999 / 1
Director’s Message
conviction of Yousef and his coconspirators; and experts from critical industries, to safeguard the
the prevention of an international terrorist plot to interlocking computer, mass transport, and public
attack several New York landmarks, and the utilities systems that power our modern society.
arrest and conviction of the plotters. Likewise, the FBI has established the National
Cooperation among law enforcement agen- Domestic Preparedness Office to coordinate the
cies at all levels represents an important compo- efforts of a wide range of federal, state, and local
nent of a comprehensive response to terrorism. agencies to enhance the abilities of communities
This cooperation assumes its most tangible around the country to respond to WMD threats.
operational form in the Joint Terrorism Task The FBI marked its 90th anniversary in 1998
Forces that exist in 16 communities across the by further enhancing its ability to respond to
nation. These task forces combine the resources terrorist incidents of the future. On November
of the FBI and other federal agencies with the 20, 1998, the FBI opened a state-of-the art
street-level expertise of local and state law Strategic Information and Operations Center
enforcement officers. This cooperation has (SIOC) at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.
proven highly successful in preventing several This expanded facility serves as a national
potential terrorist attacks, including the plot to command center during large-scale investigations
bomb New York landmarks in 1993. or at times when risks to U.S. interests may be
The increased globalization of crimes heightened. Reflecting the combined efforts that
including terrorism also has led the FBI to are necessary for an effective response to terror-
expand the number of Legal Attaché, or LEGAT, ism, SIOC is staffed by personnel from several
offices abroad. Today, 36 LEGATs work with agencies, depending on the nature of the incident
host governments to prevent crimes against U.S. or threat.
interests and to investigate those that do occur. As we succeed in identifying and apprehend-
These offices provide the FBI with a valuable ing today’s terrorists, the terrorists of tomorrow
forward defense against international terrorists are mastering new strategies and techniques of
who target U.S. interests. terror. These and other issues pose daunting
The future holds new challenges. challenges to the intelligence and law enforce-
Cyberterrorism and attacks on our nation’s ment communities. However, by building upon
critical infrastructure and terrorist use of weap- the strong foundation of cooperation already
ons of mass destruction (WMD) are emerging as established and by pursuing aggressive, constitu-
significant counterterrorism concerns. To help tionally sound investigative techniques, I believe
provide a coordinated platform to counter we can meet these challenges.
computer-based assaults and threats to our
nation’s critical infrastructure, the FBI has
established the National Infrastructure Protection
Center (NIPC). NIPC draws together personnel
from federal law enforcement and intelligence
agencies and state and local agencies, as well as Louis J. Freeh

2 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Fighting Terrorism
in the 21st Century

World Trade Center

in New York City

A lthough not new to the United States has declined in the United States remains equally
United States, the threat of past decade, the number of those alarming to the law enforcement
terrorism is changing and killed and injured in distinct acts community.
becoming more deadly. Over the has increased.1 A single attack in The FBI, working in conjunc-
last several years, the FBI has noted 1993 killed 6 people and injured tion with its state and local counter-
a new trend in terrorism within the nearly 1,000 when terrorists parts, prevented 5 acts of terrorism
United States that involves a transi- bombed the World Trade Center in in 19962 and 20 acts in 1997.3 How
tion from more numerous low-level New York City. Less than 2 years can law enforcement agencies best
incidents to less frequent but more later, an attack in Oklahoma City work together to fight terrorism to-
destructive attacks, with a goal to resulted in the worst act of domestic day and into the 21st century? In-
produce mass casualties and attract terrorism in the United States and vestigators must consider the
intense media coverage. While the the deaths of 168 people. The num- sources of today’s international and
number of terrorist attacks in the ber of attempted terrorist acts in the domestic terrorism threats.

March 1999 / 3
“ While the number of
terrorist attacks in the
United States has
operations. State sponsors remain
involved in terrorist activities by
funding, organizing, networking,
and providing other support and in-
struction to formal terrorist groups
declined in the past and loosely affiliated extremists.
decade, the number Formalized terrorist groups,
of those killed and such as Lebanese Hizballah, Egyp-
injured in distinct tian Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, and
acts has increased. Palestinian HAMAS, pose the sec-
ond threat to the United States.

currently serves as the director of Global Security for Goldman, Sachs, and
Company in New York City. Mr. Lewis is a member of the IACP and served
as chairman of the IACP Committee on Terrorism between 1996 and 1998.

Mr. Lewis, retired assistant director of the FBI's National Security Division,
These autonomous organizations
have their own infrastructures, per-
sonnel, financial arrangements, and
training facilities. They can plan
and mount terrorist campaigns
overseas, as well as support terrorist
operations within the United States.
Some groups use supporters inside
CURRENT international terrorists were re- the United States to plan and coor-
TERRORIST THREATS corded in the United States between dinate acts of terrorism. In the past,
1984 and 1992.4 All of this changed, these formalized terrorist groups
International Terrorism however, on February 26, 1993, engaged in criminal activities in the
International terrorism against when foreign terrorists bombed the United States, such as illegally ac-
the United States is foreign-based World Trade Center in New York quiring weapons, violating U.S. im-
or directed by countries or groups City. The suspects intended to de- migration laws, and providing safe
outside the United States. In past stroy the tower and murder over havens to fugitives.
decades, international terrorists 35,000 people. The third category of terrorist
have attacked the United States pri- The FBI divides the current in- threats stems from loosely affiliated
marily by targeting U.S. citizens ternational terrorist threat to the international radical extremists,
and interests overseas. The most United States into three categories. such as those who bombed the
memorable attacks include the The first threat to Americans comes World Trade Center. These extrem-
abduction of hostages in Lebanon in from the activities of foreign spon- ists do not represent a particular na-
the mid-1980s; the December 1988 sors of international terrorism. The tion. Loosely affiliated extremists
bombing of Pan American Flight U.S. Department of State has desig- may pose the most urgent threat to
103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, nated seven countries as state spon- the United States at this time be-
which killed 189 Americans; the sors of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Syria, cause they remain relatively un-
June 25, 1996, detonation of an ex- Sudan, Libya, Cuba, and North Ko- known to law enforcement. They
plosive device outside Al-Khobar rea. These sponsors view terrorism can travel freely, obtain a variety
Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, as a tool of foreign policy. How- of identities, and recruit like-
in which 19 U.S. military personnel ever, their activities have changed minded sympathizers from various
were killed; and the August 7, 1998, over time. Past activities included countries.
bombings of the U.S. embassies in direct terrorist support and opera-
Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, tions by official state agents. Now, Domestic Terrorism
Tanzania, which resulted in the state sponsors generally seek to The devastating bombing of the
deaths of 12 Americans. With conceal their support of terrorism Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
one exception, no attacks by by relying on surrogates to conduct in Oklahoma City on April 19,

4 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

1995, and the pipe bomb explosion extreme left-wing, and special in- intolerant of what they perceive as
in Centennial Olympic Park during terest beliefs. The major themes es- violations of their constitutional
the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, poused today by extremist right- rights. Membership in a militia or-
underscore the ever-present threat wing groups include conspiracies ganization is not entirely illegal in
that exists from individuals deter- regarding the New World Order, the United States, but certain states
mined to use violence to advance gun control laws, the approach of have legislated limits on militias,
their agendas. From 1982 to1992, a the millennium, and white su- including limits on the types of
total of 165 terrorist incidents oc- premacy. Many of these extremist training (e.g., paramilitary training)
curred domestically.5 The majority groups also advocate antigovern- that militias can offer legally. The
of these attacks were conducted by ment, antitaxation, or antiabortion FBI bases its interest in the militia
domestic terrorist groups, particu- sentiments and engage in surviv- movement on the rise of violence or
larly Puerto Rican groups, left- alist training to ensure the perpetua- the potential for violence and crimi-
wing extremist groups, and special tion of the United States as a white, nal activity stemming from the
interest groups. Christian nation. movement.
Domestic terrsorism involves One current troubling branch Experts have traced the growth
groups or individuals who operate of right-wing extremism is the of the militia movement in part to
without foreign direction entirely militia or patriot movement. Mili- the effective use of modern commu-
within the United States and target tia members want to remove fed- nication mediums. Videotapes and
elements of the U.S. government or eral involvement from various computer bulletin boards and net-
citizens. Domestic terrorist groups issues. They generally are law- works, such as the Internet, have
represent extreme right-wing, abiding citizens who have become been used with great effectiveness

Terrorist Threat Warning System

W arning remains critical to the terrorism

prevention effort. In 1989, the FBI
developed its Terrorist Threat Warning System
to all federal, state, and local law enforcement
agencies, the FBI can transmit such messages
via the National Law Enforcement Telecommu-
to transmit information and intelligence to other nications System, or NLETS.
members of the law enforcement community. The Awareness of National Security Issues
Acting as the lead federal law enforcement and Response (ANSIR) Program is designed to
agency in combating terrorism in the United provide unclassified national security threat and
States, the FBI manages this system to ensure warning information to as many as 40,000 U.S.
that vital information regarding terrorism corporate security directors and executives, law
reaches those in the U.S. law enforcement and enforcement personnel, and other government
counterterrorism communities. The warning agencies. ANSIR represents the first initiative
system ensures the accurate, timely, and orderly by the U.S. government to provide this type of
dissemination of new information to those information to individual U.S. corporations with
responsible for countering terrorist threats critical technologies or sensitive economic
against individuals, property, and facilities information that foreign governments or organi-
within the United States. All federal government zations may target. Each FBI ANSIR coordina-
agencies and departments are reached through tor meets regularly with industry leaders and
the warning system. If the threat information security directors for updates on current national
requires nationwide unclassified dissemination security issues.

March 1999 / 5
by militia sympathizers. Exploiting noteworthy in nature, they remain attack on information systems. The
yet another medium, promilitia fac- separated from traditional law- U.S. government, state and local
simile networks disseminate mate- abiding special-interest groups be- governments, and the private sec-
rial from well-known hate group cause of their criminal activity. tor have become increasingly de-
figures and conspiracy theorists. Through their violent, criminal ac- pendent on computer hardware,
Organizers can promote their ide- tions, these terrorist groups attempt software, networking, and commu-
ologies at militia meetings, patriot to force various segments of soci- nications technologies for accom-
rallies, and gatherings of various ety, including the general public, to plishing operational and adminis-
other groups espousing antigovern- change their attitudes about issues trative goals. However, greater
ment sentiments. Left-wing extrem- they consider important. Therefore, infrastructure sophistication pre-
ist groups generally profess a revo- special-interest groups will con- sents new vulnerabilities and cyber-
lutionary socialist doctrine and tinue to present a threat. terrorism threat scenarios. Com-
view themselves as protectors of the promise or damage to critical
American people against capitalism computer systems can jeopardize

and imperialism. They aim to public safety and U.S. national se-
change the United States through curity. In February, March, and
revolutionary means rather than ...the FBI anticipates June of 1998, the FBI’s Terrorist
participating in the established po- Threat Warning System dissemi-
litical process.
a greater number nated four separate warnings relat-
During the last 3 decades, of terrorist attacks ed to threats received against com-
leftist-oriented extremist groups aimed at U.S. puter systems in the United States.
had posed the predominant domes- citizens and As the 21st century approaches,
tic terrorist threat in the United interests abroad. the FBI has prepared to address this
States. Beginning in the 1980s, new and growing threat in a variety

however, the FBI dismantled many of ways. The FBI’s National Infra-
of these groups by arresting key structure Protection Center (NIPC)
members for their criminal activi- has developed the capability to
ties. The transformation of the Unconventional Weapons identify, analyze, and characterize
former Soviet Union also deprived Along with the risk posed by specific cyber threats and incidents.
many leftist groups of a coherent groups and individuals, both for- The NIPC uses the FBI’s criminal
ideology or spiritual patron. As a eign and domestic, a threat stem- investigative and counterterrorism
result, membership and support for ming from the choice of weapon resources and expertise in carrying
these groups has declined. used also exists. Although terrorists out its mission. The center works
Special-interest terrorist groups continue to rely on such conven- proactively to monitor all physical
differ from extreme left- and right- tional weapons as bombs and small and cyber threats, to maintain rela-
wing terrorist groups because mem- arms, several cases suggest that ter- tions with the greatest number of
bers of these groups seek to resolve rorists and other criminals may con- federal government agency watch
specific interests rather than pursue sider using unconventional chemi- centers, and to disseminate infra-
widespread political changes. cal or biological weapons in an structure threat information to gov-
Members of such groups include attack in the United States at some ernment agencies, state and local
animal rights advocates, supporters point in the future. law enforcement, and corporate se-
of environmental issues, and anti- curity directors and executives.
abortion advocates. The Cyberterrorism Threat Criminal and national security
While some consider the causes The FBI defines cyberterrorism issues have converged in the
that special-interest groups rep- as terrorism that initiates, or threat- cyberterrorism threat. Law enforce-
resent understandable or even ens to initiate, the exploitation of or ment can achieve success against

6 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Al-Khobar Towers in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Pan American Flight 103

in Lockerbie, Scotland

this and other terrorism threats by An example of the FBI’s readi- FBI Counterterrorism Mission
forging strong links among law en- ness for the next century is the Stra- The FBI counterterrorism mis-
forcement at the federal, state, and tegic Information and Operations sion is to prevent acts of terrorism
local levels, and through broad fed- Center (SIOC) at FBI Headquarters. before they occur or to react to them
eral government agency and public This 24-hour operations center was after they happen by bringing the
sector participation. recently enlarged and modernized perpetrators to justice. To enhance
with state-of-the-art technology. this mission, the FBI established a
FIGHTING TERRORISM SIOC is available for use by FBI Counterterrorism Center in 1996 to
TODAY AND TOMORROW employees and representatives combat terrorism on three fronts:
Just as the threat from terrorism from other federal, state, or local international terrorism operations,
has changed over the last several agencies during times of national domestic terrorism operations, and
years, so has the FBI response to crisis, such as following the com- countermeasures pertaining to both
this serious national security threat. mission of an act of terrorism. international and domestic terror-
In preparation for the next century, The linchpin of FBI efforts re- ism. The center helps law enforce-
the FBI continues to bolster its abil- mains promoting its counter-terror- ment and intelligence communities
ity to prevent acts of terrorism be- ism capabilities and strengthening to more effectively counter threats
fore they occur and to effectively its ties with other agencies on the of terrorism within the United
respond to such acts once they have federal, state, and local law enforce- States by combining the experi-
taken place. ment levels. ence and special skills of each

March 1999 / 7
represented agency in a coordinated state, and local law enforcement landmarks, and the crash of TWA
effort directed at the threat of ter- agencies; its Legal Attaché pro- Flight 800.
rorism or in response to a terrorist gram; the Terrorist Threat Warning
act. System; and the introduction of new Legal Attaché Program
Twenty other federal agencies federal legislation. The FBI currently counters glo-
participate in the FBI center, and bal terrorism threats through mean-
their representatives are fully inte- Joint Terrorism Task Forces ingful cooperation with allied gov-
grated into its operation. These rep- The FBI combats terrorism ernments around the world. In
resentatives serve as specific points through its participation in 16 for- coming years, the FBI anticipates a
of contact for their agencies, malized Joint Terrorism Task greater number of terrorist attacks
thereby enhancing the flow of intel- Forces (JTTFs) around the country. aimed at U.S. citizens and interests
ligence and allowing for a collabo- The JTTFs, composed of federal, abroad. Cooperation with other
rative exchange of information. The state, and local law enforcement governments remains indispensable
FBI believes that this interaction personnel, strive to increase the in countering this heightened threat
has increased the ability of the U.S. of global terrorism. The FBI pres-
government to counter domestic ently has 36 Legal Attachés over-

and international terrorism, both at seas, and the program’s success has
home and abroad. resulted in the recent establishment
The FBI combats of new offices in Israel, Saudi
Objectives of the Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt. The
FBI Terrorism Program
terrorism through
trust and good faith developed
Major objectives within FBI
its participation in through this cooperation are hall-
domestic and international terror- 16 formalized Joint marks of FBI relationships over-
ism programs include identifying Terrorism Task seas. Among the many benefits of
and preventing the activities of ter- Forces around the establishing Legal Attachés is the
rorists prior to the commission of country. close working relationships FBI
terrorist acts and pursuing the arrest personnel form with the local law

and prosecution of responsible indi- enforcement agencies, which have
viduals. As part of this prevention practical and operational familiarity
effort, the FBI collects foreign in- with terrorist organizations that
telligence information relating to effectiveness and productivity of may pose a threat to Americans.
those international terrorist groups limited personnel and logistical These relationships further enhance
and individuals whose activities resources. They avoid duplication the ability of the FBI to maintain a
threaten the security of the United of investigative effort and expand proactive, rather than reactive, pos-
States. Pursuant to attorney general cooperation and liaison among ture in addressing terrorist threats.
guidelines, the FBI analyzes the in- federal, state, and local law If a terrorist attack targeting U.S.
formation collected and works with enforcement. citizens or interests does occur, Le-
other members of U.S. intelligence JTTFs have been highly suc- gal Attachés can provide the FBI
agencies and law enforcement and cessful in several critical operations with an immediate on-scene pres-
counterterrorism communities to around the country. The FBI-New ence in the first critical hours of a
fully exploit such information. York City Police Department Joint post-incident investigation.
In the fight against terrorism, Terrorism Task Force, for example, Additionally, the presence of
the FBI Counterterrorism Center has worked on many critical cases, Legal Attachés abroad has proven
uses various resources, which including the massive World Trade crucial in facilitating U.S. criminal
include multiagency task forces; Center bombing investigation, the extraterritorial jurisdiction. The
ongoing liaison with all federal, plot to bomb major New York City U.S. government has successfully

8 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

returned terrorists from other coun- successful rendition of the subject critical infrastructure, and geo-
tries to stand trial for acts or to the United States, where he stood graphic orientation. Workshops and
planned acts of terrorism against trial. seminars include 1 week of training
U.S. citizens. There have been over curriculum that addresses various
350 extraterritorial jurisdiction Domestic Preparedness Program levels of instruction.
cases since legislation was enacted The Domestic Preparedness To further facilitate this major
in 1984 and 1986. Program represents a major part of outreach effort, the FBI has estab-
One recent case involved the FBI liaison with state and local law lished a National Domestic Pre-
rendition of a subject from Paki- enforcement agencies. The FBI co- paredness Office (NDPO). The
stan wanted for the shooting deaths ordinates efforts with other U.S. NDPO will serve as a clearinghouse
of two CIA employees in Langley, government agencies to train fed- for information on weapons of mass
Virginia. The Legal Attaché in eral, state, and local emergency re- destruction training programs and
Islamabad, Pakistan, coordinated sponse personnel to deal with ter- will work to spur development of
extensive liaison with various for- rorist events involving weapons of other national preparedness assis-
eign entities and U.S. intelligence mass destruction. Over the next 5 tance initiatives.
agencies. Ultimately, the Legal years, this initiative will support the
Attaché coordinated the delivery of training of emergency responders in CONCLUSION
the subject to an FBI arrest team approximately 120 cities, selected Terrorism has become a world-
in Pakistan. The Legal Attaché’s according to population density, up- wide problem, and a major threat to
on-scene role was critical to the coming large-scale security events, U.S. national security. FBI Director

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act

F ederal law enforcement efforts received a

significant boost in the fight against terror-
ism with the passage of The Antiterrorism and
fight against terrorism. Additionally, the omni-
bus law broadened federal jurisdiction over
crimes linked to terrorism and included new
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.7 This law, federal criminal statutes for participating in
enacted and signed by President Clinton on international terrorist activities in America.
April 24, 1996, includes several new measures A key provision of the law authorizes the
aimed at countering terrorism. Highlights of the secretary of state, in conjunction with the
law include measures that enhance the powers attorney general and the secretary of the trea-
of the federal government to deny visas to sury, to designate an organization as a foreign
individuals belonging to groups designated as terrorist organization (FTO). By designating an
terrorist and that simplify the process for FTO under the law, the United States seeks to
deporting aliens convicted of crimes. The new hinder the fund-raising ability of terrorist
law also bans all U.S. aid to countries that organizations. The law allows law enforcement
provide assistance or military equipment to to seize the funds of designated terrorist organi-
terrorist states, allows U.S. citizens to sue zations. Because FTO branches within the
foreign nations in federal court for terrorist acts United States function primarily as fund-raising
committed against U.S. nationals abroad, and arms for the overseas parent organization, the
authorizes approximately $1 billion over 4 years law could have a significant impact on their
to strengthen federal law enforcement in the terrorist activities within the United States.

March 1999 / 9
Louis J. Freeh has stated that law communication and liaison with Endnotes
enforcement agencies must do various levels of law enforcement, Officially classified acts of terrorism
include four attacks in 1993, no attacks in
everything within their power close cooperation with agencies of 1994, one attack in 1995, three attacks in 1996,
to prevent terrorist incidents the federal government, timely dis- and two attacks in 1997.
from occurring.6 semination of threat information, 2
U.S. Department of Justice, FBI,
The FBI remains committed to and effective analysis of trends and Terrorism in the United States: 1996 (Washing-
ton, DC: FBI, 1998), 5.
its leadership in counterterrorism— developments have better prepared 3
U.S. Department of Justice, FBI,
a vital part in maintaining the secu- the law enforcement community in Terrorism in the United States: 1997 (Washing-
rity of the United States. The steps addressing terrorist threats. With ton, DC: FBI, in press).
federal, state, and local law enforce- the continued cooperation of law U.S. Department of Justice, FBI,
Terrorism in the United States: 1982-1992
ment take today will strengthen enforcement at all levels, the FBI (Washington, DC: FBI, 1992), 14.
the fight against terrorism in the will continue to enhance its ability 5
Ibid., 8.
21st century. Effective means of to protect the American people 6
“What Can Be Done About Terrorism?”
identifying and preventing terrorist from the threat of international and USA Today Magazine, January 1996, 24.
Public Law 104-132.
acts before they occur, enhanced domestic terrorism.

The Bulletin’s
E-Mail Address

T he FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin staff

invites you to communicate with us
via e-mail. Our Internet address is
We would like to know your thoughts on
contemporary law enforcement issues. We
welcome your comments, questions, and
suggestions. Please include your
name, title, and agency on all
e-mail messages.
Also, the Bulletin is available
for viewing or downloading on
a number of computer services,
as well as the FBI’s home
page. The home page address

10 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City

Confronting Terrorism
on the State and Local Level

T he bombing of the New

York City World Trade
Center in 1993 proved once
again that law enforcement cannot
such as New York, Miami, and Chi-
cago remained the most likely tar-
gets. However, the reality that
Americans could perpetrate terror-
for effective antiterrorism efforts
changed forever.
A study sponsored by the Na-
tional Institute of Justice (NIJ) con-
ignore the threat of terrorism on ist acts on their fellow citizens in firmed that state and local law en-
American soil. Yet, after that trag- their own country became apparent forcement agencies view the threat
edy, most state and local law en- in Oklahoma City on April 19, of terrorism as real, but their re-
forcement administrators still 1995. Any previous abstract law en- sponse to the threat varies widely
viewed terrorism primarily as an in- forcement perceptions about ter- according to the size and resources
ternational threat. While the New rorism dissipated in the aftermath of the department and the nature of
York bombing proved that foreign- of the Oklahoma City explosion. the threat in any given community.1
inspired mass terrorism could occur For state and local law enforce- In the past, major cities developed
on U.S. soil, many administrators ment, perspectives concerning preventive and preparation pro-
believed that metropolitan centers domestic terrorism and the need grams, often in cooperation with the

March 1999 / 11
“ The FBI’s activities
cannot succeed
without cooperation
comprise the current terrorist move-
ment. Adherents often move from
one group or movement to another
and may hold multiple member-
ships. Major movement themes in-
and assistance clude white supremacy, although
from local law often denied, and an advocacy of
enforcement the violent takeover of a govern-
ment that a group believes is corrupt
agencies. and conspiring to deprive them of

their Second Amendment protec-
tions. Whatever their philosophy
and makeup, such groups appear
Mr. Bodrero currently serves as a senior research associate with the
Institute for Intergovernmental Research, a nonprofit, Florida-based to encourage and reinforce one
criminal justice research organization, and is the former commissioner of another.
public safety for the state of Utah. Mr. Brodero is a member of the IACP. Holding an extreme view on an
issue is not uncommon or illegal.
When that belief turns radical and
FBI and its joint terrorism task rhetoric previously directed toward those individuals holding such
forces, whereas smaller cities and the fear of a communist takeover views violate the law, attempt to
counties usually operated on their became replaced by a fear that the force their will on others, or ad-
own. According to the NIJ report, United Nations, backed by a covert vocate and engage in violence, all
antiterrorism resources varied ac- group of industrialists, sought to levels of law enforcement should
cording to the existing threat poten- create a new world order marked by become involved.
tial. Some smaller jurisdictions de- a centralization of power and
veloped regional alliances to wealth. Some individuals believe CHANGING PRIORITIES
address specific extremist groups that the passage of gun control leg- While international terrorism
and organizations operating within islation fanned the flames of anti- received the bulk of media attention
locales.2 However, the majority of government sentiment, or they at- during the 1980s, a concurrent
jurisdictions only recently realized tribute this attitude to the growing growth in the variety of national,
the threat presented by extremist in- power and influence of the federal right-wing extremist organizations
dividuals and groups and now as- government, with diminishing con- took place.4 The death of Gordon
sess the threat that such groups may trol of state and local authorities. Kahl, a staunch member of the
pose to their respective communi- Other researchers point to the Sheriff’s Posse Comitatus killed in
ties and to related operational plan- spread of the Christian Identity a firefight with state and federal of-
ning and readiness issues. Movement and its religious-based ficers in northwest Arkansas,
beliefs in the superiority of the marked the beginning of a new
AN INCREASE IN Aryan race. Additionally, docu- move toward violence among right-
EXTREMIST ACTIVITY mentation exists showing that the wing extremist groups.5 The emer-
Unable to pinpoint an exact right-wing extremist movement gence of the Sheriff’s Posse Comi-
time or incident to account for the grew out of the farm crises of the tatus; the Covenant, Sword, and
resurgence of extremist activity 1970s.3 Arm of the Lord; the Arizona Patri-
within the United States, some re- Reviewing a list of individuals ots; the White Patriot Party; and
searchers speculate that the end of and groups indicted for recent other right-wing extremist groups
the Cold War left American patriots terrorist-related incidents estab- challenged assumptions about
without an enemy. Emotions and lishes common characteristics that terrorism as the exclusive tool of

12 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

violent leftists and forced law en- sometimes use violence and blood- resources should concentrate on the
forcement to reevaluate and re- shed to accomplish these objec- criminality of actions, not culture or
examine previously perceived tives. Referring to the pipe bomb philosophy. While law enforcement
notions regarding the motivation of explosion at the 1996 Summer may need to monitor groups that
terrorists. Olympic Games, one author stated advocate the use of violence to
In the 1980s and early 1990s, that “there is a grim economy to the achieve their objectives, agencies
with most left-wing extremist orga- way a terrorist works, born of a dark should apply the labels of terrorist
nizations in disarray and emerging arithmetic: fear rises exponen- and extremist with restraint.8
violent right-wing extremist groups tially.”7 Portraying a government as
effectively neutralized by the FBI, ineffective and unable to provide STATE AND LOCAL
most state and local law enforce- security for its citizens remains an LAW ENFORCEMENT
ment remained untouched by the important objective of terrorism. Although the FBI assumes the
threat of right-wing violence. The lead federal role in the investigation
same time period also introduced and prevention of domestic terror-

increasing concerns and responsi- ism, every act of terrorism occur-
bilities for state and local law en- ring within the United States re-
forcement. The war on drugs and The prevention mains local in nature. Such acts, and
the increasing violence posed by the threat thereof, fall within the
street gangs, as well as the resulting
and response purview of state and local law en-
struggle to meet the demand for law to terrorist acts forcement and present significant
enforcement services, rapidly filled require unified challenges, far removed from the
the gap left by the diminishing efforts. daily concerns, priorities, and op-
street unrest and the reduced threat erational considerations of most po-

from the extreme left. However, the lice administrators.
reprieve from domestic terrorism FBI activities cannot succeed
was short-lived. By the early 1990s, without cooperation and assistance
a new movement of domestic terror Extremism is even more diffi- from local law enforcement agen-
had started, and by the middle of the cult to define. Many individuals cies. Local police officers and
1990s, violent right-wing extrem- harbor excessive views concerning deputy sheriffs, along with troopers
ists obviously still existed in the subjects they consider important. If and state investigators, sense the
United States. not for the violent activities of some discontent among terrorist move-
individuals or groups, right-wing ments, monitor the advocacy of ex-
TERRORISM extremists merely would be exercis- treme causes, respond to hate
OR EXTREMISM ing their right to free speech. Ex- crimes, and serve as the foundation
Although experts have at- tremists become terrorists when for an effective assessment of
tempted to explain the phenom- they act on their beliefs through un- threatening activities within their
enon, many definitions of terrorism lawful violent acts in order to influ- communities. In all probability,
exist. One such definition is “pre- ence or intimidate others into ac- state or local law enforcement offi-
meditated, politically motivated cepting their viewpoints. cers will respond first to a terrorist
violence perpetrated against non- For state and local law enforce- threat or incident. However, state
combatant targets by subnational ment administrators, terrorist orga- and local administrators should re-
groups or clandestine agents, usu- nizations, right-wing extremists, member that the FBI’s unique role
ally intended to influence an audi- and hate groups all generate the in the nation’s counterterrorism
ence.”6 In other terms, terrorists in- same problems and produce the efforts makes it a critical com-
tend for their acts to infuriate the same amount of pressure for a reso- ponent in any terrorism-related
public and cause outrage. They lution. Law enforcement efforts and investigation.

March 1999 / 13
incident command structure. Agen-
cies also should engage in contin-
gency planning to prepare for “what
if” scenarios by exploring the vari-
ous alternatives for attack in a par-
ticular jurisdiction. An effective
planning effort also includes an
enhanced ability for multiagency
The success of the planning
process depends on the establish-
ment of a planning team. The team
should include a variety of per-
sonnel, including senior agency
administrators, investigative com-
manders, agency or jurisdictional
PLANNING cal attacks.10 Disagreement exists prosecutors or legal advisors, sen-
At first glance, the threat of do- concerning the level of threat, but ior representatives from local emer-
mestic terrorism and the scope of administrators agree that the need to gency services providers (e.g., fire
potential methods and targets may prepare and plan for the possibility departments, rescue squads, haz-
appear overwhelming. Activity by of an incident occurring in any ju- ardous material teams), ambulance
right-wing extremist groups has re- risdiction, regardless of location or or hospital representatives, state
mained difficult to assess because size, remains strong. emergency workers, and local FBI
of the cell-type structure and other By creating a domestic terror- and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
clandestine tactics many groups ism planning process at the state and Firearms personnel. Other fed-
have adopted and the fact that most and local level, administrators can eral agency representatives may
groups operate in rural areas. Prob- respond better to a terrorist incident have interest in a particular juris-
lems have appeared to increase and also help to identify and prevent diction. For example, Department
since the Oklahoma City bombing. an incident from occurring. First, of Energy representatives, if a facil-
Klanwatch—a project of the non- law enforcement officers must rec- ity is located in their jurisdiction,
profit Southern Poverty Law Center ognize a domestic terrorism threat. or Department of Defense person-
that attempts to curb Klan and racist Next, as with other important law nel, where military facilities are
violence through litigation, educa- enforcement challenges, agencies present, also should have repre-
tion, and monitoring—reported that should develop a state of readiness sentation on the team. Agencies
“[t]here were 858 groups operating to prevent, deter, and interdict ter- can plan team participation as
in the United States in 1996, a 6 rorist attacks. Planning, an essential limited or as broad as possible,
percent increase over the 809 step, should include identifying po- however, as a general rule, teams
groups noted in 1994 and 1995.”9 tential threats and those areas that should involve as many agencies
Although others who track ex- may be vulnerable to attack, main- and individuals as feasible. If the
tremist activity acknowledge the taining an inventory of relevant planning team becomes too large,
difficulty when determining the agency resources, and creating in- the formation of subcommittees ad-
level of threat, a concern for future teragency agreements. Such agree- dressing individual specific re-
activity remains. The same report, ments should include information quirements of the plan may prove
along with numerous others, warns exchange, planning oversight, a effective.
of increased violence, including the survey of available resources, The planning team should ar-
possibility of biological and chemi- and formal involvement in an ticulate the elements of the plan,

14 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

which should include, at a mini- THREAT ASSESSMENT one side of the equation, the crimi-
mum, the following: Addressing the threat of do- nal activity and accompanying
• the chain of command; mestic terrorism should include as- threats made by such groups and
sessing and separating lawful, con- individuals require that they main-
• command and control (an tain a secretive existence. However,
stitutionally protected rhetoric
effective incident command for effectiveness and to gain public
from criminal threats. To accom-
system also would address this support while maintaining their fol-
plish this difficult and sensitive
and other planning needs); lowers, most organizations sponsor
task, agencies should initiate a for-
• the overall purpose of the plan, mal process of threat assessment— public meetings and seminars. Law
including a definition of what “an intelligence-based methodol- enforcement personnel can attend
incidents or elements the plan ogy whereby situations, circum- such public meetings to monitor
intends to cover; stances, or conditions are re- and assess the threat potential or
searched and evaluated....”11 The seriousness of the proposed actions.
• individual contingency event
vast majority of individuals who Still, administrators should exercise
hold strong extremist beliefs pose caution to avoid opening investiga-
• notification procedures; no real threat to law enforcement or tions based on beliefs alone. If,
• investigative and intelligence however, those beliefs encourage or
guidelines; elicit others to commit violence to

accomplish extremist objectives,
• media planning;
then a legitimate law enforcement
• emergency public notification interest exists. Focus always should
Law enforcement remain on criminal actions, not
efforts and mere advocacy or impassioned
• personnel and equipment resources should
databases; pleas for legitimate action to correct
concentrate on perceived wrongs.
• volunteer coordination; and the criminality of
• a process for keeping the plan actions, not culture Target Identification
updated. or philosophy. Another contributing factor in
Not only will such a planning pro- threat assessment is target identifi-

cess assist in preparing for an event, cation. Targets generally follow
but the planning steps themselves broad categories based on the mo-
can enhance working relationships, tives of the group or on the indi-
establish mutual priorities, and iden- society. Most remain content with vidual planning the attack. Domes-
tify and analyze the risk and vulner- espousing inflammatory rhetoric tic groups, including right-wing,
abilities. Agencies also should have and attending meetings, rallies, and issue-oriented, radical organiza-
a process for evaluating the plan’s exhibitions to reinforce their ex- tions and separatists, often choose
effectiveness. The FBI, as well as tremist beliefs. Distinguishing be- targets for a specific purpose. Tar-
other federal, state, and local partici- tween the individuals and groups gets normally fall into five broad
pants, should have roles in review- who advocate extreme views and categories, some that overlap, de-
ing, updating, and continually as- those who advocate harm becomes pending on the motives of those
sessing the finished product. To the challenge that law enforcement planning the attack.12
maximize the effectiveness of this agencies must address effectively. Symbolic or public message
process, the planning team requires A close examination, however, targets represent the first, the most
the support and endorsement of key reveals a dichotomy both in phi- common, and by far the largest, cat-
administrative officials and elected losophy and rhetoric that can aid in egory. These may include promi-
government leaders. the threat assessment process. On nent landmarks, electrical utilities,

March 1999 / 15
pipelines, state and local govern- targeted include elected govern- their beliefs, some movement lead-
ment buildings, universities, certain ment officials, law enforcement ers may not pose a threat. Many
federal government buildings, and personnel, tax collectors, court movement followers who may not
businesses and industries involved clerks, members of the judiciary understand the objectives of the
in such areas as chemical produc- and prosecution systems, and fami- group, much less their radical solu-
tion, animal research, forest or lies in each of these categories.14 tions, also may not pose a threat. In
wood products, and refineries. Threat assessment in this area re- fact, most extremist leaders talk
The second category includes quires not only evaluation of the more about their various complaints
government-owned or -operated fa- individual or group making the than about their radical solutions
cilities. These consist of tunnels, threat but also an assessment of so that they will not lose their
computer facilities, airports, state the vulnerability of the potential followers.
capitols, bridges and overpasses, victim. Dependent upon the nature of
maritime facilities (e.g., locks and the advocacy and associated ac-
harbors), and law enforcement tions, law enforcement should fo-

buildings and support structures. cus only on those groups that indi-
The third category involves cate intent to commit violent action.
military targets (e.g., military bases, ...agencies should The Regional Information Sharing
museums, and testing facilities). System (RISS), a regionalized in-
While generally more secure than
develop a state of formational exchange network
other potential targets, these offer readiness to prevent, implemented by the Bureau of Jus-
an immense opportunity to embar- deter, and interdict tice Assistance, offers relevant ana-
rass the military and the U.S. gov- terrorist attacks. lytical information dissemination
ernment. services, as do many state informa-

Cyber targets comprise the tion systems. There are numerous
fourth category of potential targets. Internet sites dedicated to the ex-
An enormous psychological impact tremist movement that individuals
could result from targeting utilities, INTELLIGENCE can access without violation of law
hacking into their networks and Complicated and legally chal- or policy. The U.S. Department of
control systems, and shutting them lenging intelligence issues surround Justice presently is developing
down. Other potential cyber targets the deterrence of domestic terror- Guidelines for Online Investiga-
include air traffic control centers, ism. Each agency should contact its tions by Federal Law Enforcement
financial networks, utility distribu- respective legal advisor and review Agents. Additionally, many groups
tion networks, emergency 9-1-1 department policies for guidance. will discuss openly their objectives
centers, and other vital services that Many terrorist groups rely on the with anyone willing to listen, in-
rely on computer-operated control constitutionally protected rights of cluding law enforcement officials.
systems and networks.13 advocacy and assembly. Therefore, Officers should review their agen-
Individual victims represent the determining the curiosity seekers, cies’ policies and consult depart-
fifth and last major target category. followers, and those who may advo- ment legal advisors before imple-
Kidnapping, extortion, assassina- cate violence requires an intelli- menting intelligence coverage.
tion, and other human target attacks gence assessment of known and ob-
accomplish terrorist objectives. served activities. For resource TRAINING
While intimidation remains the considerations, law enforcement After the Oklahoma City bomb-
most common tactic used against should carefully analyze the ex- ing, agencies began to ask, “Can it
individuals to gain compliance, do- tremists’ activities for evidence of happen in our jurisdiction?” and “If
mestic terrorists continue to employ criminal conduct. Content with the it does, what would we do?” Un-
violence. Individuals most likely opportunity to publicly expound fortunately, except in the largest

16 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

metropolitan centers, agencies offer enforcement agencies at all levels. of the problem. The Bureau of Jus-
very little terrorism training other Terrorist and extremist organiza- tice Assistance, in consultation and
than civil disturbance and special tions and individuals span jurisdic- cooperation with the FBI, devel-
weapons and tactical training. tional boundaries, and the investi- oped an antiterrorism training pro-
Training initiated after 1995 con- gation and deterrence of criminal gram specifically addressing the
centrates mainly on preparation and activities associated with such indi- needs of state and local law enforce-
response. The Federal Emergency viduals strongly suggest a ment—an effort that has proven
Management Agency (FEMA) pro- multijurisdictional approach. The beneficial.
vides limited funding to state emer- training and adaptation of other suc-
gency management agencies. This cessful multiagency investigative CONCLUSION
funding is used primarily on orien- efforts apply in the investigation of Assessing the nationwide do-
tation training for first responders, terrorist groups and individuals. mestic terrorism threat is difficult.
including law enforcement agen- Additionally, a review of the legal Neither the movements nor the so-
cies. The FEMA training focuses issues surrounding privacy and in- lutions are defined easily. However,
mostly on the roles and duties of telligence guidelines and the adop- one fact remains—successful anti-
various responding agencies, stress- tion of formal intelligence, investi- terrorism and counterterrorism ef-
ing the need for emergency agen- gative case initiation, and forts require the full participation
cies to work toward a unified re- case-closing policies remain critical and cooperation of law enforcement
sponse. As part of this effort, some factors in any training effort. Issues at all levels. Critical ingredients to
states include limited discussions of surveillance assessment, as well success include coordinated plan-
of threat potential and awareness as an understanding of the psychol- ning, intelligence sharing, and a
issues. ogy and profile of an extremist indi- unified, informed response to ter-
While response to an incident is vidual or group, also remain impor- rorist threats. The prevention and
critical, prevention of the act re- tant. As with any complex criminal response to terrorist acts require
mains preferable. Antiterrorism activity, training becomes critical unified efforts.
(pre-incident) training involves for developing both an effective ap- While Americans should not
preparation and response consider- proach and a better understanding live in fear, they need to recognize
ations in an effort to prevent vio-
lence from occurring in the first
place. To maximize training time,
available courses should assist state
and local agencies in understanding
the nature of extremists and their
organizations to better assess their
potential for violence. Agencies
should disseminate useful informa-
tion concerning the history and evo-
lution of the right-wing extremist
movement. Additionally, law en-
forcement should become familiar
with current trends and activities to
make informed interpretations of
potential extremist activities.
Departments should discuss is-
sues concerning the various terror-
ism roles and responsibilities of law

March 1999 / 17
and respond to the threat that terror-
ism presents to the United States. Wanted:
“The United States is the target of Photographs
the future,” and “terrorism is a
greater threat to democracy than
communism or socialism ever
were”15 represent views articulated
by many individuals. All levels of
law enforcement must implement
effective antiterrorism efforts in
combating this threat to ensure the
safety of all American citizens and
their communities. After all, the
very foundation of democracy re-
lies on freedom from fear, terror-
T he Bulletin staff is
always on the lookout
for dynamic, law enforce-
ism, and terrorist activities.
ment-related photos for
possible publication in the
Endnotes magazine. We are interested
Kevin Riley and Bruce Hoffman, Domestic in photos that visually depict
Terrorism, A National Assessment of State and
Local Law Enforcement Preparedness (Santa
the many aspects of the law
Monica: Rand Corporation, National Institute enforcement profession and
of Justice, 1995). illustrate the various tasks
Ibid. law enforcement personnel
Mark Pitcavage, Ph.D., Common Law and
Uncommon Courts: An Overview of the
Common Law Movement (Tallahassee: Institute We can use either black-
for Intergovernmental Research, 1997). and-white glossy or color
Brent L. Smith, Terrorism in America: prints or slides, although we
Pipe Bombs and Pipe Dreams (New York:
State University of New York Press, 1994).
prefer prints (5x7 or 8x10).
Ibid. Appropriate credit will be
United States Code, Title 22. given to contributing photog-
Pico Iyer, “Lost Magic, Terror at the raphers when their work
Games,” Time, August 5, 1996, 21.
Richard Fairburn, “Labeling Terrorism,”
appears in the magazine. We
Police Marksman, July/August 1995, 41. suggest that you send dupli-
“Officials Bolster Action vs. Far Right” cate, not original, prints as
USA Today, March 5, 1997, Sec. Nation. we do not accept responsibil-
Ed Higgins, Threat Assessments and the
ity for prints that may be
Antigovernment Extremist, presentation at the damaged or lost. Send your
State and Local Antiterrorism Training photographs to:
Program, Colorado Springs, Colorado, April
1997. Brian Parnell, Art
Stephen Bowman, When the Eagle Director, FBI Law
Screams: America’s Vulnerability to Terrorism
(New York: Birch Lane Press, 1994). Enforcement Bulletin,
Ibid. FBI Academy, Madison
Ibid. Building 209, Quantico,
Ibid. VA 22135.

18 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Focus on Counterterrorism

Photo © Jeanetta Clark

Critical Incident
Management in the
Ultimate Crisis
By Joel Carlson, M.S.

“I’ve learned that emergencies can only be

managed by people at the site. They can’t be
managed back in Washington.”1
T hese two observations also could apply to other
catastrophic events, including terrorist attacks,
that have plagued the United States for the past
several years. The International Association of Chiefs
of Police defines a disaster as an incident that threat-
“Expect the unexpected and be prepared to ens to or actually takes lives, causes substantial risk
adjust accordingly. The importance of limiting to property or the well-being of the community or a
those things that any executive should attempt segment of that community, or requires a commitment
to do in the time allowed, and the importance of of resources beyond those normally available.3 Such
carefully choosing one’s battles, is implicit in the incidents may become more frequent and deadly as
fact that some of the toughest of those battles criminals and terrorist groups exploit the availability
will be chosen for you.”2 of chemical substances, biological agents, and nuclear
materials to construct weapons of mass destruction.
—Government officials following the Reasons for accessibility include the increased
1979 accident at the Three Mile volume and types of substances produced, the failure
Island nuclear power facility. of security systems to protect the materials, the

March 1999 / 19
transfer of prohibited weapons to irresponsible • The U.S. Department of State is the lead agency
governments, or the proliferation of various materials in coordinating U.S. resources in response to a
to countries that previously did not perceive a need WMD incident in a foreign country should that
for sophisticated weaponry. government request such assistance.
The criminal use of chemical, biological, or • The U.S. Department of Defense provides spe-
nuclear materials could result in a disaster unparal- cialized technical resources to assist in the
leled in U.S. history and test the government’s ability mitigation of WMD devices or the consequences
to avoid panic, disorientation, and loss of confidence of their misuse, to supply logistical support to
in ensuring the public’s safety. The specter of terrorist other federal responders, and to furnish additional
acts with catastrophic consequences remains of great assistance as defined by the situation and directed
concern to those individuals charged with combating by the President.
such attacks. Leaders in the public emergency re-
sponse and management sectors may face situations • The U.S. Department of Energy provides techni-
that could consume their processes, procedures, and cal and scientific assistance to locate hidden
capabilities. Emergency personnel nuclear material; to diagnose a
may exhaust their experience, suspected, improvised nuclear
devotion, training, and capability device; to plan the disablement of
attempting to protect the public
from potentially catastrophic and
devastating consequences. What
critical incident management
“ ...a presidential
directive designates
a nuclear yield or radiological
dispersal device; and to advise
local authorities on the hazards
and effects.
procedures are available for the FBI as the • The Public Health Service and
dealing with such incidents? lead agency of all the Centers for Disease Control
federal resources. and Prevention respond with
UNDERSTANDING technical and scientific personnel
Within the federal government,
systems exist that will respond to
assist local, county, and state
” and equipment to assist in the
mitigation of the health concerns
that could arise from various
aspects of WMD misuse.
governments in mitigating the impact of a threat or • Other federal agencies will respond with person-
actual misuse of weapons of mass destruction nel and resources if the threat or attack requires
(WMD). their unique resources or jurisdictional authority.
• The FBI serves as the lead federal agency for Because criminal misuse or the threat of misuse
resolving a crisis perpetrated by a malevolent of chemical, biological, or nuclear materials on a
element in a WMD incident occurring within the domestic target poses the ultimate management
United States and its territories. challenge for public safety agencies and government
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency leaders, these federal responders will complement,
(FEMA) supports the FBI by coordinating and in many cases supplement, the resources of cities,
consequence management (e.g., evacuation counties, and states. While managing this multiagency
planning or search and rescue efforts) of a WMD response proves difficult, good planning, practice, and
incident. However, because crisis and conse- patience make it achievable.
quence management may occur at the same time
and require close coordination, the FBI remains MANAGING THE CRISIS
the lead federal agency until the attorney general Generally, two ways exist to manage a crisis. One
transfers that role to FEMA. involves ignoring the need to define a command

20 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

structure before a crisis occurs and then being forced different venues across the United States. However,
to create such a structure during the incident. This an application of ICS to accommodate different levels
route requires that onsite command or management of response represents an alternative to this maze of
personnel create a working incident structure while potential pairings of responding agencies. Through a
simultaneously attempting to manage the crisis. The well-developed ICS, state and local governments can
risk of creating additional crises in the midst of alert their state, local, and county response agencies
managing one is almost guaranteed. The second and deploy them under the predefined ICS, thus
option involves defining the incident command, ensuring that a unified command and response team
coordination, communication, and operational immediately begins to address the crisis and its
direction. consequences.
The unified command and control of the incident,
the setting of strategic and tactical goals, and the The Joint Operations Center
integration of resources from all responding agencies In response to a domestic misuse of weapons of
determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the mass destruction incident, a presidential directive
government response. Therefore, the most pressing designates the FBI as the lead agency of all federal
question for emergency man- resources. To facilitate this
agement professionals is how responsibility, the FBI em-
they can direct resources from ploys a joint operations center
many agencies of different (JOC), a concept similar to
disciplines at all levels of that of the state-level ICS.
government in a meaningful This center coordinates
and coordinated way to address interagency operational and
a potential technical disaster support needs of the deploy-
and maintain the confidence of ment and manages joint
the citizens who may become agency public information and
the victims. At the same time, media interaction. The federal
these professionals face addi- agencies that respond to such
tional crisis management incidents have worked with
difficulties, including changing the FBI in exercises and drills
management objectives, based on the JOC concept.
differing value systems, politi- Commanders from the various
cal harassment, too little data, too much data, poor responding federal and state agencies converge as a
data-handling methods, little planning, insufficient joint operations command coalition to address critical
time to learn, confusion, and fatigue.4 What should decisions regarding incident resolution. The FBI
these crisis managers do? designates a special agent in charge (SAC) to convene
and head this command group. The SAC may recom-
The Incident Command System mend technical and scientific actions with potential
The Incident Command System (ICS), which catastrophic consequences to higher federal authority
many fire, police, and emergency management as required. The SAC also maintains a direct line of
agencies have used since its inception in 1970, may communication to the FBI director and the attorney
hold some of the answers. The ICS requires planning general. The critical interfacing and coordinating of
and practice on the part of the participating agencies. state and local operations with federal operations, and
Unfortunately, it is impossible for the various emer- vice versa, occur through the various elements of the
gency response agencies at all levels of government to JOC. A close working relationship of all levels of
develop and practice plans with one another to government in this type of crisis management is not
address the uncountable scenarios in the thousands of an option; it is essential.

March 1999 / 21
The ICS and JOC Interface Predetermination of roles and responsibilities, crisis
How does the JOC interface with the state and training and exercising of personnel, and a desire to
local ICS? Unification of command and integration of prepare for the unfathomable will permit this melding
operations is critical. Specialized federal technical of FBI and local crisis management resources. A
and scientific resources can rely on the FBI, including federal report emphasizes this point in two state-
its personnel with whom they have practiced, for a ments: “Unified avoid
single format of decision making that remains the chaos and coordinate tactical activities” and “[t]he
same no matter which community hosts the incident. issue of who is the primary agency in charge is not to
The local FBI office where the incident occurs holds be determined on the emergency scene.”5
the key to managing deployed federal personnel and
resources and organizing the JOC. Already familiar
with state and local resources, these FBI offices must Preparation for managing a weapons of mass
become acquainted with the ICS response plans for destruction incident first requires an appreciation of
those states or communities within their regions. This the magnitude of the potential consequences. When
melding of command and control all involved responding agencies have that awesome
resources builds a bridge between outcome in full focus, they will
the federal JOC and the state ICS. understand the truly essential
elements of planning, training,

Moreover, the responsibility
for initiating familiarization cooperation, liaison, resource
briefings and training programs at definition, and coherent public
Crisis managers policy implementation. Therefore,
all government levels in this type cannot wait for...
of crisis management rests equally crisis managers cannot wait for
an incident to occur such an incident to occur to perfect
with state and FBI officials in the
to perfect a process a process for handling the next
various regions. The designated
incident commanders of the state for handling the one. They must manage the first
or local ICS and the SAC of the next one. event intelligently and with a
JOC should work together through meaningful application of re-
exercises and drills prior to a real
test of their capabilities. The
success of melding federal techni-
cal and scientific resources, which are unknown to Endnotes
” sources and leadership at all levels
of government.

“Crisis Management: 10 Key Lessons from the Three Mile Island
local and state responders, with state and local Experience,” Public Affairs Review (1985): 26.
personnel and resources will occur only through the 2
management skills of the state ICS incident com- 3
Critical Incident Management course, International Association of
manders and the SAC. For example, the management Chiefs of Police, Alexandria, VA, 1991.
Robert Kupperman, Facing Tomorrow’s Terrorist Incident Today
of the Oklahoma City bombing incident illustrates (Washington, DC: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1977).
how the meaningful use of multiagency resources 5
Report of the Joint Fire/Police Task Force on Civil Unrest
succeeded because of planning, preparation, and joint (Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S.
alliances. The former Oklahoma City chief of police Fire Administration, 1994).
noted the importance of establishing relationships Mr. Carlson, a certified protection professional of the
with federal authorities and the local fire chief before American Society for Industrial Security and retired FBI
a crisis because of the difficulty in doing so once the special agent, currently serves as a member of the techni-
crisis begins. The federal and local response will cal staff working on counterterrorism and criminal use of
become a unified incident command at the time of a nuclear materials issues at Sandia National Laboratories
crisis only with cooperation and preplanning on a in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Carlson is a member of
local level between state ICS and FBI commanders. the IACP.

22 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

World Trade Center
in New York City

The Joint Terrorism

Task Force
A Concept That Works

O n February 23, 1997, a 70- FBI-New York City Police Depart- interviewed several people who
year-old Palestinian vis- ment Joint Terrorism Task Force could help track the subject’s move-
ited the observation deck (JTTF) responded. Task force in- ments while he lived in that state,
of the Empire State Building. vestigators rushed to the scene to fulfilling the residency require-
Shortly after arriving, he opened assist the local investigators. The ments he needed to purchase the
fire with a handgun that he had le- task force command center opened, weapon. This information, together
gally purchased just 1 month after and the numerous agencies that with the information supplied by
arriving in this country. He killed 1 comprise the task force immedi- the task force command center, al-
person and wounded 7 others before ately began working to ascertain the lowed investigators to quickly iden-
killing himself. A search of his shooter’s identity, his origin, and tify the shooter and, more impor-
clothing revealed a long rambling whether he had any ties to orga- tant, determine if the incident was
letter that expressed anti-U.S. and nized terrorist groups. an act of international terrorism.
anti-Israel sentiments, along with a Within hours, the command The task force concluded that
Florida nondriver’s license identifi- center had answers to these ques- the individual seemed mentally un-
cation card and a receipt for the tions. The FBI dispatched its Legal stable, expressed hatred of Israel
weapon. Attaché in Israel to the Gaza Strip to and the United States, had no con-
Immediately upon receiving interview the subject’s family. The nection to any organized inter-
notification of this crime, the FBI and local police in Florida national terrorist group, and had

March 1999 / 23
committed the attack alone. The addressing the complex problems groups and individuals target-
speed with which the JTTF arrived inherent in terrorism investigations. ing or operating within the
at this conclusion remains a testa- Originally the JTTF began with New York metropolitan area
ment to the effectiveness of a joint 11 members from the NYPD and 11 for the purpose of detecting,
task force concept. Had the JTTF FBI investigators. Today’s task preventing, and prosecuting
not been in place, the investigation force, 1 of 16 nationwide, includes their criminal activity.
may have taken days or weeks, more than 140 members represent-
rather than hours, to conclude. ing numerous federal and local Integration of Agencies
agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals The key to the success of the
History of the JTTF Service, the U.S. Department of JTTF concept remains the melding
In 1979, the New York City Po- State’s Diplomatic Security Ser- of personnel from the various law
lice Department (NYPD) first used vice, the Bureau of Alcohol, To- enforcement agencies into a single
the concept of combining federal bacco and Firearms, the Immigra- focused unit. All members of the
and local law enforcement capabili- tion and Naturalization Service, the JTTF must think and perform as a
ties due to an overwhelming num- New York State Police, the New team.
ber of bank robberies. Because the York/New Jersey Port Authority This concept best uses the indi-
concept proved valuable, adminis- Police Department, and the U.S. vidual skills and expertise of each
trators eventually applied it to the Secret Service. JTTF member. The benefits of this
counterterrorism program. Prior to All agencies participating in the integration are innumerable. NYPD
the establishment of the JTTF, an ad JTTF sign a formal memorandum members bring the insight that
hoc task force of local and federal of understanding that clearly states comes from years of living and
authorities would form to investi- the task force’s two objectives: working with the people in the city.
gate each new terrorist case. • reactive: to respond to and These members typically have ad-
The idea behind the establish- investigate terrorist incidents vanced through careers from uni-
ment of the JTTF was a simple one. or terrorist-related criminal formed precinct patrol to various
Once established, the task force activity; and detective duties before being as-
would remain in place, becoming a signed to the JTTF.
• proactive: to investigate
close-knit, cohesive unit capable of The FBI special agents bring
domestic and foreign terrorist
vast investigative experience from
assignments all over the world. The
FBI Legal Attachés remain of par-
ticular benefit to the task force.

“ The key to the

success of the JTTF
concept remains the
melding of personnel
These special agents, assigned to
U.S. embassies throughout the
world, provide initial law enforce-
ment information on JTTF interna-
tional terrorism cases.
from the various Each of the other participating
agencies similarly contributes its
law enforcement own resources and areas of exper-
agencies into a tise to the JTTF. The integration of
single, focused unit. the many agencies, each bringing its
own unique skills and investigative

Deputy Inspector Martin, New York City Police Department, serves on the
FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. He is a member of the IACP.
” specialties to the task force, makes
this unit formidable in combating

24 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Despite the obvious benefits of 204 witnesses and more than 1,000 United States. The suspect and his
the JTTF, measuring the success pieces of evidence. A jury con- associates had hoped to kill up-
and effectiveness of the unit is not victed the four defendants on March wards of 35,000 innocent people.
always as clear when judged by tra- 4, 1994, in federal court on all 38 The excellent work accomplished
ditional standards. Law enforce- counts against them. On May 25, by the JTTF in investigating and
ment officers who work on terror- 1994, a judge sentenced each of the successfully resolving the case dis-
ism-related investigations can labor four defendants to 240 years in pelled the sense of vulnerability the
for months without producing the prison and a $250,000 fine. On Feb- terrorists had hoped to instill.
usual results often used to judge the ruary 7, 1995, authorities in Paki-
efficiency of a functioning detec- stan arrested the prime fugitive Terrorist Groups
tive squad (e.g., numbers of arrests, wanted in connection with the As the World Trade Center case
cases cleared, cases closed). Super- bombing and subsequently ren- unfolded, investigators uncovered a
visors monitoring the productivity dered him to U.S. authorities. This second, potentially far more deadly
of the JTTF initially might not be suspect, the mastermind behind the plot—a threat posed by a radical
impressed with the numbers pro- bombing, was sentenced to 240 Islamic terrorist group. It soon be-
duced, but such numbers can be de- years in prison on January 8, 1998. came apparent that this group
ceiving. Opinions of the capabili- planned to strike out against the
United States, and intended to com-

ties of the task force changed
rapidly and dramatically on a day in mit these acts in the New York City
February 1993. area. Investigation by the JTTF re-
The World Trade
...the task force would vealed that these individuals were
remain in place, making explosive devices and in-
Center Bombing tended to use them on such targets
On Friday, February 26, 1993, a
becoming a close-knit, as the Lincoln and Holland tunnels,
massive explosion occurred in the cohesive unit capable the United Nations headquarters
public parking garage of the World of addressing the building, and the federal building
Trade Center in New York City. As complex problems that houses the FBI New York Field
a result of the explosion, 6 persons inherent in terrorism Office.
were killed, and more than 1,000 investigations. On June 23, 1993, JTTF mem-
injured. The site of the blast became bers raided the group’s safe house

one of the largest crime scenes in and found its members making
NYPD history. Estimates showed bombs they planned to use during
property damage in excess of one- simultaneous attacks on the four
half billion dollars. The sense of The quick action taken by the targets. As a result of this investiga-
fear and panic in the city was pal- JTTF did much to allay fears and tion, the JTTF made 15 arrests be-
pable. Indeed, many in law enforce- return a sense of normalcy to New tween June 24 and August 23, 1993.
ment thought of this investigation York City. The World Trade Center The arrests prevented the group
as the “case of the century.” bombing will be remembered as the from carrying out acts of planned
The JTTF stepped into the gravest attack of international ter- terrorism, including murders and
maelstrom and helped restore calm rorism to occur directly on Ameri- bombings. The arrests also in-
to the city. Within a month of the can soil. As part of the plot to strike creased confidence in the ability of
blast, the JTTF apprehended four at the United States, these interna- law enforcement, working in con-
individuals responsible for the at- tional terrorists intended to disrupt cert on the federal, state, and local
tack. The suspects went on trial on the dynamics of daily life, com- level, to protect the lives and busi-
September 13, 1993. The trial lasted merce, and finance in one of the nesses of the residents of New York
6 months with the presentation of most heavily populated cities in the City.

March 1999 / 25
World Trade Center
in New York City

Five of the 15 defendants plead- safety of U.S. civil aviation was Long Island to several foreign coun-
ed guilty or became government called into question. The sense of tries. Investigators recovered ap-
witnesses. Ten of the defendants fear grew among some air travelers. proximately 1 million pieces of the
went on trial in federal court on Once again the JTTF ran the aircraft (about 96 percent of the
January 9, 1995. On October 1 of investigation. From the start, the plane), which bomb technicians and
that year, a jury found all 10 defen- FBI and the other members of the laboratory personnel visually in-
dants guilty of a total of 25 criminal JTTF worked in tandem with the spected. All 230 victims were re-
charges. On January 17, 1996, the National Transportation Safety covered and subsequently identi-
defendants received sentences Board. The FBI handpicked special fied. Experts performed exhaustive
ranging from 35 years to life plus 65 agents from terrorism squads to analysis and explored all avenues of
years. work on the investigation. Local potential criminality to determine if
law enforcement contributed re- a bomb or missile could have
Additional Successes sources, as well. The JTTF at- caused the explosion. The JTTF
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight tempted to determine whether a pursued every lead it found in this
800 crashed off the coast of Long criminal act brought down TWA case. In the end, no evidence indi-
Island, New York, killing all 230 Flight 800. cated that a criminal act caused the
people aboard the plane. Although A 16-month exhaustive investi- incident.
ultimately determined not to be an gation followed. In that time period, The JTTF concept again proved
act of terrorism, initial speculation investigators from the JTTF con- its worth. Months of delay in assem-
centered on terrorism as one pos- ducted more than 7,000 interviews bling a team and initiating liaison
sible cause of the crash, and the that spanned from the shores of contacts with federal agencies were

26 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

avoided because the mechanisms Emergency Service Unit (ESU), en- Conclusion
already existed. The members of the tered the house and safely contained Since its inception, the FBI-
JTTF took great pride in the thor- the canister. Because no facilities in NYPD JTTF has remained on the
oughness of their investigation and the city existed to safely perform forefront of the war against terror-
in allaying the fears of the Ameri- the tests needed to identify the con- ism. The World Trade Center
can public that terrorism caused this tents of the canister, the ESU trans- bombing proved that Americans
tragedy. ported the canister to the NYPD’s could not view terrorism as a
The year 1997 proved to be a outdoor range in the Bronx. The malady that affected only other
busy one for the JTTF, providing JTTF followed established proce- countries. That attack, as well as the
new examples of the benefits the dures and contacted the U.S. Army Oklahoma City bombing and the
task force concept brings to investi- Technical Escort Unit in Aberdeen, bombing at the 1996 Summer
gations. In addition to the Empire Maryland, which immediately Olympics, awakened Americans to
State Building shooting, the year dispatched a team to the Bronx the fact that terrorism had come to
witnessed a terrorist threat in New location. the United States.
York from an unconventional Today, 16 JTTFs stand ready to

weapon. In March 1997, the suspect deter, counter, and respond to acts
of a mail-order fraud case invited of terrorism. The FBI-NYPD JTTF,
the investigating detectives into his as well as the others throughout the
residence. The cluttered house con- ...the JTTF country, remain dedicated to fight-
tained a large cache of chemicals, remains on the ing terrorism and eliminating the
gasoline, and fuel additives. The forefront of the fear and panic that terrorists rely
suspect told investigators that he war against on to advance their causes. The
used these products to make “super combining of federal, state, and
fuel” for the model airplanes that he
local law enforcement resources

raced. However, he offered no ex- has resulted in effective maximiza-
planation for the far more ominous tion of resources, the provision of
canister clearly marked “Sarin Gas” sophisticated investigative and
that the detectives also found in the Once the technical escort team technological resources, and link-
house. They immediately exited the contained the canister in its own age to all federal government re-
house and called for hazardous ma- cylinder, they boarded a military sources in the United States and
terials support personnel. aircraft, which flew the team and worldwide. The participating law
Sarin gas is a highly toxic their potentially deadly package enforcement agencies, working as
chemical nerve agent. On March back to Aberdeen. Tests performed one, provide the needed know-
20, 1995, a Japanese terrorist group there revealed the canister to be ledge, skills, and resources essential
dispersed Sarin gas in three Tokyo empty. The suspect had told investi- for law enforcement agencies to
subway lines at the height of morn- gators the truth—that he had la- succeed in fighting the menace of
ing rush hour. Twelve people died beled the canister Sarin gas as a terrorism.
as a result, and 5,500 people re- joke. He was arrested on numerous
quired medical treatment. theft charges, the neighborhood re- The author gratefully acknowledges
Fearing that they had discov- turned to normal, and police, fire, NYPD Lt. John Haughie, Detectives
ered a potential weapon of mass de- and city officials breathed a sigh of Thomas Corrigan and Louis Napoli,
struction, the JTTF responded and relief. The incident proved a good FBI Special Agent John J. Liguori,
conferred with ranking police and exercise for everyone involved and and all of the members of the JTTF
emergency management personnel served as another example of the for their significant contributions in
preparing this article.
on the scene. The NYPD’s elite contacts and services the JTTF can
hazardous materials team, the provide.

March 1999 / 27
Police Practice

Bomb Threat
A Primer for the
First Responder
By T.C. Fuller

A group of business people returning from

lunch notices an unattended briefcase in the
entryway of their building. Having heard about bombs
for a bomb squad. After the officer learns that the
nearest bomb squad is 250 miles away and will not be
available for at least 4 hours, he informs the building
left in such circumstances, one group member calls manager who becomes upset and demands that some-
the local police and reports the suspicious briefcase. thing be done to resolve this major inconvenience.
An officer arrives at the scene and observes a Faced with the distasteful duty of listening to the
growing crowd of onlookers standing in the lobby, irritated manager for the next several hours, not to
eyeing the briefcase, and carrying on a spirited debate mention agreeing with the manager’s assessment that
about who might have left it and whether they should the briefcase probably contains nothing dangerous,
be concerned. The building manager arrives and tells the officer decides to take matters into his own hands.
the officer that it is probably nothing and asks how He gingerly picks up the briefcase and moves it out-
long it will take to resolve. Unfortunately, the side to lessen the inconvenience for the office work-
officer’s ensuing actions are dangerously incorrect ers and to make it more accessible to the bomb squad.
and the direct result of a preventable lack of proper Such a scenario should sound somewhat familiar
training. to anyone in the law enforcement community, espe-
After cautioning everyone to stand back, the cially those serving on bomb squads. Variations on
officer approaches the suspicious briefcase and this theme happen almost every time someone finds
examines it, looking for anything that might provide a a suspect package, particularly if they find it in an
clue as to what it contains. Without the proper train- inconvenient location. In this example, the officer
ing, however, the officer really has no idea what he is safely resolved a potentially dangerous situation;
looking for or what to do if he finds something. After however, without proper training, the officer may not
a cursory examination, the officer walks about 20 feet be so successful, or so lucky, with the next suspect
across the lobby and uses his handheld radio to call package.

28 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

TRAINING FIRST-RESPONDING OFFICERS greater the distance the better. Officers should re-
Today, society demands much from its law member that bomb squad personnel, with the benefit
enforcement officers. As a result, time for training of specialized training and equipment, will not
becomes a premium, constantly competing with the approach a suspect package until one of them has
need for officers to remain on the street. Therefore, donned a bomb suit and helmet, and they have
very few officers ever receive any training on how to gathered as much initial information as possible. If
identify and react to suspect packages. However, with officers must approach suspect packages, they should
the increase in dramatic bombings in the United try to take the same path as others who may have
States and abroad over the last few years, most approached the packages before their arrival. The
departments should find the time to train their officers same caution remains when officers depart the area.
in handling such situations. Further, because first- Most important, officers should never approach
responding patrol officers encounter these packages suspect packages solely for taking photographs. While
more often than any other law enforcement member, photographs of these packages are valuable to bomb
this lack of training becomes a squad members, they rarely receive
serious safety issue when these photographs and, consequently, do
officers suddenly face their first not expect them.
Additionally, because suspect

suspect package. Without proper
training, these officers and the packages can prove harmless,
civilians they attempt to help could The most important contain an actual device, or lure
become victims of these devices. rule in handling officers into an ambush, officers
However, if first-responding suspect packages must remember the “street smarts”
officers have received even the and survival tactics that they
remains: DO NOT employ every day in their normal
most rudimentary training in basic
TOUCH the police duties. First responders—
immediate reactions, they can
greatly reduce or eliminate any package. law enforcement officers,
firefighters, emergency medical

danger presented by these devices.
The fact that officers discover workers, and bomb disposal
suspect packages that have not personnel—have been the targets
detonated prior to their arrival of bomb threats and IEDs in
constitutes a victory for law enforcement. At this foreign countries for several years. While instances of
point, officers armed with basic knowledge about secondary devices placed specifically to target first
handling suspect packages can initiate an organized, responders have not become as common in the United
professional response to lessen the danger to them- States, officers must remain vigilant to this potential
selves and to innocent bystanders. Most important, threat whenever they encounter suspect packages.
these informed officers know that no way exists for
determining what will detonate an improvised explo- Clear the Area
sive device (IED) until it has been examined. There- In handling potential bomb situations, officers
fore, their only safe course remains to assume that the should evacuate the area immediately and ensure that
device could detonate at any time for any reason. no one reenters. Establishing an initial “exclusion
area” of a 300-foot radius constitutes a good rule to
Hands Off the Package follow. Officers can adjust the size of the area, if
The most important rule in handling suspect pack- needed. They should consider the physical size of the
ages remains: DO NOT TOUCH the package. If at all package and the surrounding area. For example, a
possible, officers should not approach suspect pack- suspicious paper sandwich bag in the empty gun
ages; they should observe them from a distance—the vault of a National Guard Armory may indicate that

March 1999 / 29
officers probably could lessen the distance because and medical emergency personnel arrive, bomb squad
the package is small and the surrounding area con- members will not approach a suspect package because
tains little, if any, dangerous material. Conversely, they may need these services themselves if the device
officers encountering a suspicious 24-foot moving detonates.
van in the center of an urban metropolis should
increase the exclusion area appropriately. In this case, Turn Off the Radios
such materials as glass from nearby buildings can Officers should curtail all radio use within 300
become incorporated into the blast, creating lethal feet of a suspected IED. Because all devices have a
secondary fragmentation that increases the destructive fuse, and some employ an electric firing system, using
capability of the IED. Therefore, radio transmitters near such a
suspect packages, regardless of device risks providing it with
their size, found near potentially enough electromagnetic energy to

dangerous materials usually detonate. After bomb squad
require a larger exclusion area. For members conduct an initial recon-
example, officers discovering a Along with clearing naissance, they can provide
small suspect package next to a the area, officers officers with guidelines about
large propane tank obviously should alert fire using radios at the scene.
should expand the 300-foot and emergency
exclusion rule. Officers must use Investigate the Scene
medical personnel. After officers have cleared the
their common sense and remain
alert to the many variables at the area and alerted emergency
scene of suspect packages.
Moreover, during an evacua-
tion, officers must plan the routes
that individuals will use to leave the area. Officers the

evacuated area.
they should initiate a
investigation of the
careful not to reenter
point, the area involved
must ensure that escape routes do not bring these has become a potential crime scene and officers
individuals close to the device. Also, officers at the should treat it as such. Patrol officers initiate crime
scene should request as many additional officers as scene investigations every day, and the standard rules
needed to clear and secure the area. Because these apply to the scenes of suspect packages or IEDs.
scenes prove highly visible and attract many onlook- Some measures, however, warrant special mention.
ers, including the media, getting individuals out and As soon as possible, officers should identify and
keeping them out of these areas remain vital to segregate witnesses and interview individuals who
ensuring their safety. actually saw the device. They should have witnesses
describe the suspect package in detail, including
Alert Emergency Personnel sketching the device. Because bomb squad members
Along with clearing the area, officers should alert will want to speak with these individuals, they should
fire and emergency medical personnel. Officers stay near the scene. However, officers need to keep
should give these support units explicit instructions all witnesses apart from each other to prevent them
on how to approach the scene and where to wait. In from exchanging crucial information. Because every
case the device detonates, officers must keep these detail, no matter how trivial it may seem, proves
units far enough away so that they do not become vitally important to bomb squad members, officers
incapacitated, yet close enough to respond rapidly. should maintain the integrity of the eyewitness
Also, officers and bomb squad members must main- accounts.
tain dependable communication with these personnel, Additional questions officers should ask wit-
even face-to-face contact, to ensure that all involved nesses include many similar to those they would ask
services understand the situation. Moreover, until fire at other crime scenes.

30 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

• Has someone recently threatened the area or CONCLUSION
anyone associated with it? Handling suspect packages remains one of the
• Does anyone have a grudge to settle that might most hazardous law enforcement duties. Because
manifest itself in such a manner? patrol officers usually are the first to arrive at the
scene of these packages, they need adequate training
• Who found the package? When?
in how to identify and react to these situations.
• Has anyone approached the package? If so, by When dealing with suspect packages, first-
what route? responding officers should observe the “assume the
• Has anyone touched the package? worst and hope for the best” rule. If these officers
assume the worst and act accordingly, they can re-
• Does anyone have any suspects?
duce the risk of injury or death to themselves and
• Do any of the suspects identified in the initial those around them. By employing such safeguards as
investigation have the knowledge to build such not approaching the suspect package, clearing the area
a device? surrounding it, alerting emergency personnel, not
To aid in their examination of suspect packages, using their radios near the area, and initiating a
bomb squad members will appreciate any information preliminary investigation of the scene, first-respond-
that first-responding officers can obtain. Further, once ing officers can resolve these potentially deadly
the squad renders the suspect package safe, investiga- situations effectively and, most important, safely.
tors conducting the follow-up investigation also will
Special Agent Fuller serves in the Burlington, Vermont,
value this initial information, which may provide
Resident Agency of the FBI’s Albany Division.
many of the answers they need.

Subscribe Now

March 1999 / 31
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Author Guidelines

GENERAL INFORMATION are exceptions.) The Bulletin follows the The

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin is an New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to
official publication of the Federal Bureau of Style and Usage. Potential authors should
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32 / FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

The Bulletin Notes
Law enforcement officers are challenged daily in the performance of their duties; they face each
challenge freely and unselfishly while answering the call to duty. In certain instances, their actions
warrant special attention from their respective departments. The Bulletin also wants to recognize
their exemplary service to the law enforcement profession.

Officers David
Ross and Larry
Lescure of the
Waverly, Tennes-
see, Police Depart-
ment responded to
a report of a 14-
year-old boy
trapped in a rain-
swollen creek. The
Officer Ross Officer Lescure boy and his 13- Sergeant Norwood
year-old cousin
were playing on a utilities crossing when rushing water swept Sergeant Wayne Norwood
the boy into the creek. The force of the water took the boy down- of the St. John the Baptist
stream, where his foot became stuck in a fallen tree. His cousin Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s
ran to a nearby house and obtained a rope, which he threw to the Office responded to an accident
boy who tied it around his body. Upon arrival, the officers saw involving a vehicle that had gone
the boy’s head begin to slide beneath the water. They immedi- over an embankment and
ately waded into the creek, freed the boy by removing his shoe, crashed into a swamp. Sergeant
and carried him to safety. The selfless actions of Officers Ross Norwood, who has years of
and Lescure, along with his cousin’s quick thinking, saved the diving experience, arrived at the
boy’s life. scene. Although he did not have
his diving equipment with him,
he immediately dove into the
murky water, which contained
snakes and alligators. After sev-
While on patrol late one evening,
eral dives, he located the vehicle
Deputy Jack Peterson of the Sevier
and pulled the driver out of the
County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office received
water. Tragically, the driver had
a call about a possible suicide. Deputy
died as a result of the crash, but
Peterson located the distraught female at a
Sergeant Norwood’s valiant
local park. She was sitting in her vehicle
efforts were greatly appreciated
with the doors locked. She had a can of
by the victim’s family.
white gas in one hand and a cigarette
lighter in the other and stated
that she was going to set herself
Deputy Peterson on fire. Deputy Peterson immedi-
ately smashed the drivers’ side Nominations for the Bulletin Notes should be based
on either the rescue of one or more citizens or
window with his flashlight and took the woman into arrest(s) made at unusual risk to an officer’s safety.
custody. She was transported to a local hospital as was Submissions should include a short write-up
(maximum of 250 words), a separate photograph of
Deputy Peterson, who received injuries to his right each nominee, and a letter from the department’s
hand from the broken glass. Deputy Peterson’s quick ranking officer endorsing the nomination. Submis-
response thwarted the suicide attempt. sions should be sent to the Editor, FBI Law Enforce-
ment Bulletin, FBI Academy, Madison Building,
Room 209, Quantico, VA 22135.