Personal Security and Terrorism

Considering the Alternatives: Even though terrorism is a world-wide criminological issues, some researchers consider there is one aspect that is common to most acts of terrorism: the United States is the victim of choice. As such, it is probably safe to suggest that anything American, both domestic as well as international, is fair game for the terrorist. American citizens call fall prey to terrorist targets at home or abroad. In spite of growing expenditures for security technology, terrorist incidents will continue to increase. As the protective rings of security tighten around corporate offices, airline terminals, nuclear power plants, military installations and government facilities, terrorists are likely to become bolder. In the process, they are also likely to be less selective in their attacks. Therefore, the issue of personal security, especially when traveling abroad, becomes a critical issue of travel. Personal security means taking those steps necessary to ensure survival and safety from injury. This requires that a person plan ahead and develop a strategy of defensive countermeasures. Reducing personal exposure to danger is the goal of such tactics. This is not a static process, but a dynamic on-going planning effort. It should be kept in mind there is no system of one hundred percent foolproof protection. Yet, there are basic precautions which can reduce the opportunity for victimization. As many security practitioners point out, a major requisite for personal security is the development of a good plan of action. This plan must be supported by knowledge, training and practice of security techniques. In the process, every effort must be made to upgrade security when necessary. This means to adapt, improves and overcome obstacles whenever they arise.

Planning a defensive posture in response to terrorism is hampered by the inability to predict when and where terrorists will strike. The security conscious person will need to evaluate his or her individual risks. Such exposure depends upon one’s lifestyle, business activities, and other related interpersonal associations. In addition, other issues such as mode of travel, routes of travel, level of exposure, locations, residences, etc, are additional considerations. A preventive action plan involves paying attention to the environment. It requires constant high level vigilance. Precursors to an incident must be detected early. So, a personal early warning system must be implemented. This is primarily a mental process, or a tactical mindset. One must conscious focus and utilize his or her sensory abilities to maximum advantage. Making the effort to evaluate potential risks can be time consuming. Such efforts depend on how secure a person wants to be. Plus, a person must decide in advance the kind of response to make when a confrontation occurs. Each of us should always evaluate alternatives, given the situation at hand, and then act accordingly. Personal safety dictates doing whatever is necessary to ensure survival. Criminals are capable of being extremely dangerous. They are capable of committing acts of assault, rape, extortion, kidnapping, murder, as well as other crimes. Make no mistake, terrorism, transnational organized crime, and state sponsored criminal enterprises threaten the national security and safety of the United States.

Implement a Personal Security Strategy: Over the past few years, acts of terrorism have shown increased levels of activity. The annual growth rate seems to surpass previous years. Increased incidents show a range of global movement. According to one researcher, the targets over the past few years have included an array of locations and individual situations. Thus, persons associated with certain professions, geographic areas, target symbols, certain means of transportation, etc., have become targets for potential terrorist attack. In particular, the frequent traveler abroad to the high risk locations, or areas of known or suspected terrorist activity, is a high risk candidate. Such targets or symbols include, but are not in any way limited to, the following: perceived enemies such as the United States, and representatives of the United States government, embassies, airlines and airline terminals, trains and other means of public transportation, utilities and communication systems, hotels, schools, businesses and their corporate representatives, and many other types persons, places and things. We’re all potential targets.

Regardless of whether or not the threat potential comes from the political terrorist or the criminal terrorist, the possibility of violence and disruption always exists. In the planning process, it would be appropriate to begin by making an assessment of one’s risk potential, and decide if there is a high risk possibility of becoming involved in a terrorist incident. This effort involves anticipation of the criminal act, to the extent that a person understands that a terrorist act is possible, given the right set of circumstances. Initially, one might make a list of the personal lifestyle, associations and social status in order to ascertain the individual risk category. For example, a personal risk analysis list might include items such as: individual social status and public profile, previous history of exposure to threats or personal loss, the type of neighborhood, symbols of perceived enemies (e. g. representative of a large multi-national corporate entity), extent of travel and means of travel, personal lifestyle and the perceptions of others regarding personal wealth, family and home vulnerability, etc. Once a determination has been made as to risk potential, the individual begins to appraise those things necessary to enhance the personal security profile. Recognizing that certain actions will be needed to reduce personal exposure, not only for the individual, but also for members of the family, coworkers, etc., the action plan evolves into the implementation of steps required to foster protection and survival. Again, planning a personal security strategy is an ongoing process, which includes the evaluation, assessment, analysis and upgrading of one’s individual security profile. Along with such strategies, develop a tactical mind-set of personal security.