Date: July/August 2002
Source: International Horizons
Abstract: Several individuals board a MARC train in Baltimore. The only existing security procedure -- showing a single picture I.D. to purchase a ticket -- was concluded, but in this case the I.D. was used to purchase all of the tickets.
Upon arriving at Union Station the individuals leave several "dirty" suitcase nuclear bombs on-board the train in storage bins and place several more in lockers at the station. Upon detonation, immediate death and destruction occur in a limited area. Catastrophically, however, Union Station and all of surrounding Washington, D.C., for several miles must be evacuated for several hundred years (U.S. Department of Energy information on radiation impact).
A commuter ferry carrying 300 passengers to work in San Francisco could easily be the target of a terrorist attack, as could a Chicago Transit Authority bus terminal handling thousands of commuters daily. Such a blow would in minutes kill and injure many, but the collateral impacts would paralyze the transit system and as a result the entire San Francisco or Chicago metropolitan area. Impacts would be felt throughout the nation.
The intent of terror is to disrupt and destroy directly, and to produce collateral consequences. While terrorist acts result in destruction, the prolonged impacts can be much more extensive.
The 1995 Sarin gas release by terrorists in Tokyo subway facilities killed 11 and injured more than 5,500 people. Approximately 60 percent of the victims treated had post-traumatic stress disorder that persisted for longer than six months. A major lesson learned was the "the importance of cooperation among multidisciplinary professionals in managing and overcoming incidents of this magnitude ("Sarin Poisoning on Tokyo Subway." Southern Medical Journal 90:587-593, June 1997)."
Terrorism works, in part, because of the psychological effects -- particularly fear -- that can immobilize individuals and make entire populations feel vulnerable.
The awakening of September 11, 2001 put America's vulnerabilities and weaknesses into sharp perspective. These vulnerabilities will remain critical as long as our responses and strategies fail to address prevention.
Vulnerability and Prevention
Vulnerability exists when preparedness to prevent and the ability to react to terrorist threats do not. The ability to respond includes disaster preparedness and crisis management. However, this only represents the reactive component of preparedness. Prevention is the necessary co-equal requirement to be established.
The balance is defined through universal cooperation in real-time, incorporating shared, valid information, open communication, consistent education and resources management. Unique systems already developed by International Horizons Unlimited and Accountability Initiatives, LLC embody all of these elements.
America's mass transit systems are highly vulnerable because we are not proactively prepared. The first step is to access the transit industry by answering several fundamental questions:
- How vulnerable are we?
- Can terrorism attacks be prevented?
- Are we prepared to respond?
- Are we prepared to establish a comprehensive strategy and innovative private sector/governmental cooperation that focuses on prevention, protection, preparedness and response? Managers of mass transit systems must be proactive in planning and developing preparedness for terrorist acts.
This Planning Should Include:
- A thorough assessment of the wide-scope of functions performed by the mass transit system
- An assessment of personnel, hiring practices and monitoring approaches
- An assessment of equipment inventories, condition and maintenance systems
- An assessment of all potential vulnerabilities to terrorist threats of the systems and equipment that could and would result in injury, death, cessation of function, disruption of daily activities, impact on other systems and entities, short- and long-term disruption of service, economic instability and diversion of resources
- An assessment of the security needs and approaches in place and those needed to protect vital and vulnerable components
- An assessment of emergency support available in the facilities and in the surrounding communities
- The establishment of preparedness goals that include prevention, protection, intervention and response
- The implementation of a program for personnel hiring and monitoring that is consistent with the preparedness goals.
- The implementation of a program for heightened facility and equipment maintenance and monitoring
- The development of checklist evaluations to support frequent monitoring of the preparedness goals for personnel, facilities and equipment, with periodic assessment of the results and the implementation of necessary changes
- The implementation of a strategy for the orderly evacuation of customers and personnel from facilities.
- The implementation of programs for the education of all personnel at all levels to include monitoring for educational effectiveness and regular re-enforcement and updating.
- The establishment, implementation and testing of all primary and backup systems
Practice, then Practice Again
An ongoing process that includes planning, followed by practice through scenarios with subsequent assessment and effective communication to the participants, and updating and improvement, supports the prevention goals. This process must be repeated over and over again. All functions performed as part of the plan must be documented on a daily basis.
The plan functions must become routine parts of every day. All personnel must be included in the planning and implementation process, and must be educated to be trained observers and to report suspicious behavior and findings. Preparedness for mass transit and other infrastructure components is accomplished through the cooperation of governments, agencies and entities at all levels (local, regional, state, national and international) and the private sector. A primary goal is to establish a coordinated information repository capable of producing data integration (using horizontal data integration technology) in real-time to support effective planning, prevention and interventions. Incorporation of a unified effort to integrate information from multiple sources simultaneously for analysis and appropriate action(s) is essential.
Prevention is the critical element, offering the best strategy for mass transit and infrastructure protection (International Horizons, 2002).
Date: January 2003
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation
Abstract: In order to provide a better understanding of how transportation is both affected and utilized in an emergency situation, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) commissioned a series of four case studies examining the effects of catastrophic events on transportation system management and operations. Each of the case studies examined a specific event and the regional response. The events included terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001; an earthquake in the Los Angeles region; and a rail tunnel fire in Baltimore.
This cross cutting study summarizes the surface transportation activities associated with four catastrophic events and the lessons learned from each. Each of the events resulted in substantial, immediate, and adverse impacts on the transportation system, and each has had a varying degree of influence on the longer-term operation of transportation facilities and services in its respective region.
The case studies have provided material for a series of Transportation Response and Recovery Workshops developed by the FHWA and held in major metropolitan areas around the country.
This document has two main sections. The first section provides an overview of each of the four case studies. This overview includes a chronology of key events on the day of and days after the disaster, a description of the affected area, a description of key decisions taken by agencies, and a brief description of conditions in the months following the event. The four case studies are:
- New York City terrorist attack on September 11, 2001
- Washington, D.C. terrorist attack on September 11, 2001
- Baltimore, Maryland Howard Street rail tunnel fire on July 18, 2001
- Northridge, California earthquake on January 18, 1994
The second section discusses findings that cut across the four case studies. Each of the four events presented transportation and emergency response agencies with a different set of challenges in dealing with response and recovery. This section includes an assessment of the following key questions:
- How well were the key participants prepared?
- What happened and who took action?
- What aspects of the emergency response worked well and why, and what aspects did not work well and why?
- What role did technology play in these aspects with respect to transportation emergency response and recovery?
- What was learned, what could be done differently, and what can be incorporated into the disaster planning process?
In conclusion, each of these catastrophic events has produced lessons to be learned that are applicable to every region within the country.
The need for advance preparation and planning was evident in each of the four case studies. New York and Los Angeles were somewhat better prepared to handle its disaster because of their reaction, and response to past events. New York City learned valuable lessons from such varied events as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1999 Queens electrical blackout and the threatened 1980s transit subway strike. The Los Angeles region had been subject to numerous natural disasters- earthquakes, forest fires, and mud slides- as well as human events such as the riots following the Rodney King verdict. The Washington, D.C., region has identified shortcomings in its advance preparations for the region and has produced an inter-governmental agreement to improve the Washington region’s handing of transportation emergencies.
Catastrophic events require a coordinated response among various state, local, and federal agencies. It is important to have an established chain of command in place and framework for response such as the Incident Command System (ICS) developed in California in the 1970s. The events of September 11 pointed out a number of weak links in the institutional coordination structure in both New York City and Washington, D.C. It is important that this serves as a wake up call to regions across the country to better integrate safety, health, and transportation agencies into a coordinated response plan.
The Baltimore event showed the need to ensure that those response plans incorporate private industry. Private carriers transport the overwhelming majority of the freight shipped throughout the country on rail, water, and roadway. It is important to include these major shippers in designing response and communications plans.
Communications has both a personal and technical aspect to it. It is important for decisions made by officials to be clearly and quickly disseminated within an agency and to the general public. The press plays a crucial role in this dissemination of information as shown in each of these four case studies. One area of communications failure that occurred in each of the four cases involved working with a technology that failed at crucial times. In California, landline telephones were knocked out by the earthquake and cell phones failed to work in the canyons north of the city. In New York City and Washington, communications networks were overwhelmed by demand and the failure of interoperability among emergency responders hampered relief efforts.
Technology can play a crucial supporting role in aiding transportation decision-makers. It can help agency personnel make better-informed decisions as events unfold. It allows agencies to better coordinate responses with other agencies. And it allows agencies to distribute real-time information to people so that they can make individual decisions on when and how to travel. A prime example of this is the IRVN network that allows 13 transportation control centers within the New York region to share live video feeds among the member agencies and the public to view video feeds of major transportation nodes to aid in individual decision-making.
Redundancy within the system allows for parts to be disabled and the whole to still function. The four case studies pointed out the need for redundancy in the regional transportation network, in personnel, in communications technology, in utilities and in control centers.
Building redundancy into a system costs money. Money that at times can be seen as an inefficient use of resources, until it is called upon in an emergency. There is a need to educate the public and policy makers that expenditures to ensure redundancy are worthwhile and even necessary in preparing for emergency response (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2003).
Title: Small-Scale Terrorist Attacks Using Chemical And Biological Agents
Date: May 20, 2004
Source: CRS Report for Congress
Abtract: This report addresses the potential terrorist use of C/B agents, including toxins. The focus of this report is on small-scale, targeted chemical and biological attacks. In this framework, manufacture and dissemination of modest amounts of material, able to cause significant casualties in a building, subway station or other enclosed space, rather than on a citywide scale, are discussed.
This approach attempts to analyze the threat posed by various agents if used by small, non-state-sponsored terrorist groups that may lack the technology, expertise, or logistical capability to mount a large mass-casualty attack....In order to compare the impact of different C/B agents, the target is assumed to be the same in each case: a medium-sized enclosed space, such as an office building or subway station...Other experts have cited historical natural outbreaks on public transportation, such as trains, as evidence that individuals with diseases in the contagious stage have been able to travel and infect others (CRS Report for Congress, 2004).Title: Terrorism, Transit And Public Safety Evaluating The Risks
Date: December 2, 2005
Source: Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Abstract: There are several reasons that people react particularly strongly to terrorist attacks. Such attacks are designed to be highly visible, producing intense media coverage. The fact that the harm they cause is intentional rather than accidental makes them particularly tragic and frustrating.
And they raise fears that such attacks may become more frequent or severe, so risks may increase in the future. For these reasons, it is unsurprising that transit terrorism tends to instill more fear than other risks that are actually much greater overall.
That is exactly what terrorists intend. This is not to suggest that transit terrorism risks are insignificant and should be ignored. On the contrary, transit terrorism is a serious threat that harms people both directly, through injury and property damage, and indirectly by creating fear and confusion. Strong action is justified to protect transit users’ safety and sense of security.
When terrorist attacks occur, responsible leaders rightfully recommend that people return to their normal habits, including public transit travel. Cities repair their public transit systems and people use them, both for practical reasons and to show they are not intimidated by terrorism (Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2005).
Title: Unconfirmed Report Of Terrorists Plotting To Attack New York Transit Systems
Date: November 25, 2008
Source: FBI & DHS
Abstract: (U//FOUO) The FBI has received a plausible but unsubstantiated report indicating that al- Qa’ida terrorists in late September may have discussed targeting transit systems in and around New York City. These discussions reportedly involved the use of suicide bombers or explosives placed on subway/passenger rail systems.
(U//FOUO) We have no specific details to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning, but we are issuing this warning out of concern that such an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season.
(U//FOUO) We have no further information on the threat at this time; however, we are working closely with the US Intelligence Community, State and Local Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Officials to vet and corroborate this reporting and will continue to investigate every possible lead. We will provide updates as we obtain further information.
(U//FOUO) We remind recipients to remain vigilant during the holiday season and report suspicious activity to authorities immediately.
(U) DHS encourages recipients of this document to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to DHS and/or the FBI. The DHS National Operations Center (NOC) can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9685 or by e-mail at NOC.Fusion@dhs.gov. For information affecting the private sector and critical infrastructure, contact the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC), a sub-element of the NOC. The NICC can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9201 or by e-mail at NICC@dhs.gov. The FBI regional phone numbers can be found online at http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm. When available, each report submitted should include the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people and type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact (DHS & FBI, 2008).
Title: Explosives And Incendiaries Used In Terrorist Attacks On Public Surface Transportation: A Preliminary Empirical Analysis
Date: March 2010
Source: Mineta Transportation Institute
Abstract: This report provides data on terrorist attacks against public surface transportation targets and serious crimes committed against such targets throughout the world. The data are drawn from the MTI database of attacks on public surface transportation, which is expanded and updated as information becomes available.
This analysis is based on the database as of February 20, 2010. Data include the frequency and lethality with which trains, buses, and road and highway targets are attacked; the relationship between fatalities and attacks against those targets; and the relationship between injuries and attacks against them.
The report presents some preliminary observations drawn from the data that can help stakeholder governments, transit managers, and employee to focus on the ways the most frequent and/or most lethal attacks are carried out as they consider measures to prevent or mitigate attacks that may be considered likely to happen in the United States (Mineta Transportation Institute, 2010).
Title: DHS Mass Transit And Passenger Railroad Systems Terrorist Attack Preparedness Info Regarding A Realistic Threat
Date: February 19, 2012
Abstract: (U//FOUO) Terrorist attack tactics used against mass transit and passenger railroad systems abroad provide insights that can assist law enforcement officers in securing these critical infrastructure assets. The chart below highlights common tactics noted in attempted or successful use of explosive or incendiary devices against mass transit or passenger railroad systems in attacks conducted between March 2004 and November 2009. The information about these attacks provides insights into device type, selection, and construction and can help law enforcement identify patterns and develop protective measures. Analysis shows terrorists have timed attacks during periods of peak ridership; used multiple, coordinated, drop-and-leave devices in identical or similar baggage; and placed devices inside rail cars to cause casualties among passengers (DHS, 2012).