Today, (21 December), is the 26th anniversary, of the Pan Am Lockerbie disaster on 21 December 1988, when a Libyan terrorist bomb blew a Boeing-747 out of the sky over the Scottish town of Lockerbie!
This barbaric, murderous act killed 243 passengers and 16 crew aboard Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 on the ground.
Lockerbie was the precursor to 9/11, a warning to the world to get serious about security, but nothing has really changed on airports since then! Plastic explosive can still get past scanners undetected. Airport security remains slack in Australia and elsewhere. There have been 300 breaches on Australian airports to date this year. A Senate Inquiry is about to get underway.
Much more can be done to mitigate risk, following the terror attack, in Martin Place, Sydney, which claimed two lives on Monday 15 December 2014. Barrister and mother of three, Katrina Dawson and Lindt Chocolate Café Manager, Tori Johnston, were the innocent victims of this ‘lone wolf’ attack.
Australian PM Tony Abbott, US President Barack Obama, UK PM David Cameron and Canadian PM Stephen Harper all have mandates to greatly enhance INTEL gathering. They can end massive reliance on technology tools and old hat stovepipe security methodology, by training and engaging the workforces on critical infrastructure sites and involving citizens on how to mitigate and report terrorism.
The missing component from Australia’s National Security mix is ‘HUMINT’ – human intelligence/intervention – used in varying forms by the CIA, Israel, UK and Singapore. Technology only ever consists of tools, which can never work at peak performance, without human intervention, as stressed by two key advisors to the CIA.
The interoperability between Australian Federal and State Departments and agencies has been in place since before the opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It resulted in high risk passengers on international watch lists, being identified, denied entry for the Games and turned around at Australian airports.
Dedicated, highly skilled, hard-working people in Australian Federal and State Government Departments and agencies are extremely frustrated, because their areas of expertise are severely under resourced. Recommendations made by former PM John Howard’s three year, ‘2005 Wheeler Inquiry’, were only ever partially adopted. The world has moved on since 2005.
Throwing another Aust$630 million at the Australian Federal Police and technology sounds good, but is simply more of the same Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government’s ‘big announcement’ initiatives to counter terrorism. A total of 80 electronic profilers, in smart CTO (Counter Terrorism Officer) uniforms, on Sydney and Melbourne airports, will still miss the red headed, radicalized Muslim teenager, who flew out of Sydney to fight in Syria. Others have left for Syria via less resourced airports including Perth.
The Martin Place madman was cunning. He had a plan and fitted the profile of a suicide bomber; unnaturally calm in a state of extreme serenity, knowing he would die. This is a phenomenon accurately described by Homeland Security Asia/Pacific, on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’, last Monday night, during the siege.
Australia has been sucked into a false sense of security because there were no terrorist incidents at the G20 – as predicted prior to the Summit! Home-grown ‘lone-wolf’ terrorist attacks, Al Qaida sleeper cells and Aussies returning from fighting in Syria and Iraq are the real threats.
Who remembers what preceded the Martin Place siege, which cost the lives of two extremely brave, innocent hostages, in the early hours of Tuesday 16 December 2014?
Australians must never forget ‘Fake Sheikh’ Man Haron Monis, was a terrorist out on bail for multiple offences, who slipped under the radar! There are other highly dangerous, radicalized Australians at large in the community, as more arrive home via our airports, with frontline and bomb making experience.
All politicians can get a grip on ‘HUMINT’, ignored by successive Australian Governments. It is easy to familiarise themselves with the readily available, HSAP-developed, UN ICAO compliant ‘HUMINT’, first created for airport workforces.
The AVSEC-1-ALERTTM system can help mitigate risks on all designated ‘Places of Mass Gathering’ including sports arenas, with a Test Cricket series underway and the Australian Open tennis tournament just weeks away; Houses of Parliament, Lucas Heights nuclear facility; as well as airports, seaports, bus and rail terminals. The entire Australian population can be embraced to adopt the key elements of this program to create heightened public safety, security awareness and reporting procedures, known during WW2 as ‘Civil Defence’!
It took a ‘HUMINT’ notification to police by a Boston resident, to catch one of the Boston terrorist bombers hiding in a boat in his backyard – not the efforts of 4000 US police, intelligence and defence personnel searching for him.
New South Wales Police were alerted to the potential attack in Martin Place, by an observant woman, who intuitively became suspicious enough to immediately phone-in the situation! This heroine deserves the highest honour the nation can bestow on her. Without her prompt ‘HUMINT’ action, this terrorist attack may have claimed more victims!
No law enforcement agency in the world can guarantee to protect its citizens from a terrorist attack. Every citizen needs to be vigilant and part of the mitigation process.
ROGER HENNING MAIPIO
Director – Global Operations
Homeland Security Asia/Pacific Pty. Ltd.