Class Hypothetical Exercise
This is a hypothetical exercise for a university course on terrorism.
As the operational leader of Al Waas terror group, I am in charge of organizing an attack to the United States of America. I have devised a well thought out plan that will succeed if approved and properly implemented. One of my roles, as requested by the leader of the terror group, was to identify a perfect target that if attacked will hurt the United States of America and its citizens hard. Other roles were to identify the right venue of attack, the right time, materials required and also elaborate how the operation would run. The request to plan the attack came as a result of the Government of the United States attacking members our group camp and killing all people in the camp earlier this year.
After being mandated to head the attack, the first consideration was on the best venue to hit the United States. There were many options available and after vigorous analysis of all the possible scenes, the Grand Central Terminal in New York City was chosen as the most appropriate target due to two main factors: firstly, the terminal security is weaker compared to other social sights like football stadiums and large government buildings (Hoffman, 2013, p. 105-113). Secondly, the terminal acts as the largest rail terminal in the country means that at any time, the terminal holds a lot of people. The terminal would therefore, be appropriate for any type of attacks including suicide bombing and chemical poisoning. I believe that attacking one of the busiest transport terminals in the United States shall be the most effective way of teaching the government of the United States and the citizens a lesson.
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Relevance of the Attack to Our Objectives
Our group’s main objective is to avenge the attack that the United States army did in our camping base in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of all the people at the sight. We assert that those responsible have to pay for their actions. By targeting the citizens, we will hit two targets at once: it will kill those who voted in the government that killed people from our group and at the same time we shall prove to the government of the United States of America that they can also be attacked. The vengeance objective is as a result of our own principles that we are our brothers’ keepers and if anyone comes between us, we shall not hesitate to revenge. The vengeance falls in line with our campaign against the government of the United States of America insistence on interrupting the group’s fight for democratic governance in our country and the whole world. The United States government continuously supports our rival groups and targets our leaders (Hoffman, 2013, p. 129-133). The attack will serve as a warning to the government that our affairs should not be interfered with. By overwhelming the country using the attacks, we shall have accomplished the above objectives.
Our main tactics is to use suicide bombers, whom we have already identified and selected. The motivation behind settling for the tactics is because it remains to be the most undetectable way that can be used. Bombs will be planted on the bodies of the volunteers on the day of attack. Suicide bombing will also reduce the associated risks when planting the bomb. The other reason is due to strengthening of security systems of the United States that has made sneaking in such dangerous materials through security checks difficult (Hoffman, 2013, p. 156-163). The thorough security checkups made us abandon our initial plan of carrying bomb parts and assembling them on the territory of the country (Abrahams, 2008, p. 79-83). To ensure that the plan is perfect and undetectable the use of human weapon was our best option.
One of the main motivating factors is that our suicide bombers volunteered to die fighting for the rights of the group. Their sacrifice has proven unity in our group and succeeding in the attack is the best reward we can give to the heroes. The volunteers were guided by the beliefs in holy war and also, some wanted to revenge for the death of their family members who died in the Afghanistan attack. The number of volunteers was overwhelming and we had to choose ten from many who wanted to go to the mission. The planning committee believes that their motivation and training will result into one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the United States of America (Abrahams, 2008, p. 83-86). By considering security, convenience and cost factors, the planning committee unanimously agreed that suicide bombing was the most appropriate tactic.
Need for Logistical and Financial Help
The planned attack will require both logistical and financial help from the organization. Firstly, we plan to send a delegation that will survey, spy and study the operations of Grand Central Terminal for the purpose of identifying weaknesses of the security system. We plan to send five well trained spies on a three week study program of the terminus and its potential security loopholes. The spies will define location of cameras and other strategically important objects; for this purpose our spies will be accommodated in a hotel near the rail terminus. Transport costs for the suicide volunteers will also be needed, as well as a compensation package for their relatives. The operational division is planning on setting up an operational base in a house that we purchased in a safe and undetectable place near the terminus. The base will contain communication equipment such as computers, internet cables and cell phones to ensure free flow of information during the operation. After considering all the above operational costs, a budget requiring approximately $3 million was prepared. The money will ensure that the attack will take place smoothly as planned.
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Our division also requests for logistical support in terms of concealing our equipment in the United States. Firstly, we require equipment that shall be used in the attack such as guns, bombs, cell phones and computers. Our section will require the organization to purchase and deliver them three days before our day of departure. The country airline terminuses have vigilant and well established security systems, thus, air travel would not be appropriate. We have agreed to fly to Mexico where security system is weaker than that of United States and then use road transport to enter the United States. To ensure success of the transportation plan, we will require the organization to use their links with the local Afghan administrators and those of Mexico to ensure that that our equipment sneaked in will not be subject to any search. The cell is also requesting for assistance during our escape from the United States. The group has planned to escape immediately after the attack and head to Mexico in a hiding owned by the organization. This building will act as our hiding place until everything has cooled down. We, therefore, request that the organization liaise with the Mexican safe house administrators to enable us have its access after the attack. The group also requests for air travel from the Mexican border after the escape to ensure that we escape the scene faster.
Communication with the Cell and Leadership
Our communication system will be based on safety first principle that is held by the organization. Establishing secure communication lines will be one of the first tasks before the operation begins. Our group, with the help of the organization, plans to establish a secure communication network and ensure that every member participating in the attack has an earpiece. We shall also establish a communication base in the organization headquarters in Afghanistan to ensure that updates on the operation are availed to the heads of the terror group. We have already devised an encrypted the system of communication. Safe communication will ensure that our plans are carried out efficiently and at the same time ensuring that the authorities do not intercept our communication. We shall also use encrypted internet communication to send messages to the headquarters and we have ensured that the network fire walls are strong enough to reduce information leakage. The group will be led by me as the cell operational leader; I will also be assisted by the assistant manager. We shall be responsible for giving out orders as directed by the higher offices based in the headquarters.
After considering all the prior activities of the organization, we have settled on 20 operators who will travel to the United States to oversee the operation under my leadership. Ten of those will be the volunteers for suicide bombing and the rest will be the support crew that will be based in the rented room in New York. The operational plan will also require staff located in the headquarters back in the country to act as a link between those based in the United States and the ones in Afghanistan. The group that will travel to the United States will include two computer professionals who will apply their computer skills to hack the rail systems and disable the security system of the terminus. The staff will also have two operational managers who will ensure the plan timing is not distorted. Operations managers will ensure that all activities planned are done at the right time. The travelling party will also include two sharp shooters that will form a back-up plan if the terminus security system notices a breach. They will be based on a rented room directly opposite to the terminus with a clear view of the terminus. They will be armed with automated sharpshooting guns and ready to deal with security enforcers in case our plan goes wrong. Our driver will foresee our escape to Mexico through a different route than the one used when entering the United States. The rest of the crew will act as support staff whose tasks will be as instructed.
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Timing of the Attack
The attack is scheduled to happen on April 26, 2014. The date was arrived at after considering preparation time and the probability of having a high number of people. Firstly, after our cell was informed of their responsibility to plan the attack, a period one month was chosen as the preparation time. Therefore, the group had to set a date that was approximately one month after the strategy meeting. Secondly, we considered the best time when the security is usually relaxed and the weekends are a perfect example. During the weekends, most of the security systems are usually not vigilant and this offers loopholes in security. The group that will be investigating will focus on the level of security in the terminus during the weekends and we shall base the attack on their report. Thirdly, weekends provide the most travelling times for the United States citizens. Therefore, the weekends are the time when most of the people travel meaning that on that day the terminus will be busy because many people will be using it for travel purposes. As our aim is to ensure the attack hit as many people as possible, there would be no better day than Saturday. The attack is scheduled to take place at 12 noon local time, a time when two trains arrive in the terminus. The choice of the weekend is also driven by the fact that the government systems will not be active; therefore, their response time will be longer, thus, giving us enough time to execute the attack and escape.
Description of the Attack
On the day of the attack, the attack group will be divided into two. The first group will be the control group that will be located in a rented room opposite the Grand Terminus Station. The other group will be the perpetrators who will include suicide bombers and an extra person to cause a distraction at the main entrance of the terminus. We shall all have a week of training on each person’s responsibility to ensure perfection and at the same time communicating with the headquarters to inform our leaders on the progress. A computer system which will be used to hack the systems of the terminus and communication will be located in the rented room. The preparation will be capped by fixing the bombs on the volunteers’ bodies and training them on their conduct to evade suspicion. All other participants will be briefed on their roles and positions for coordination. Diagrammatic and architectural presentation of the terminus will be used to illustrate the operation and answer any issues that could be raised by the members of the crew.
The attack has been organized in three phases that will perform attacks on the main concourse, the souvenir shops and the Vanderbilt Hall. Two attacks will happen simultaneously and the third one will happen after one minute of the preceding attacks to ensure that the culprits are as many as possible. The first two attacks shall target the souvenir shops and the main concourse. We shall delegate six of our suicide bombers to perform the task with three being based in the shops and the other three based in the main concourse. The next attack shall be the main one and the rest three suicide bombers will be based in the Vanderbilt Hall waiting for the first attack to happen and then follow up after one minute. Preceding the attack, a delegated staff will first cause a scene in the main entrance of the terminus to act as a disruption for the security agents. It will, therefore, be possible for our suicide bombers to easily enter the subway and they will also have enough time to hold their positions.
This will happen twenty minutes before the attacks to ensure that time is enough for the suicide bombers to hold their positions. By this time, our computer professionals will be busy hacking all the systems in the terminus to act as a safe way of our escape since the control group will be based in a room in the building opposite the terminus. After everything has settled down, all the suicide bombers will be positioned and our controllers will be ready to launch the bombs. We estimated that the time range between the bombers positioning themselves and the security procedures returning to normality will be 18 minutes. At exactly 12 noon, the bombs will be launched starting with the first two in the shops and the main concourse and then a minute after, the bombs in Vanderbilt Hall will be launched. The logic behind the successive blasts is that after bombing the shops and the main concourse, people will run towards Vanderbilt Hall for escape and after one minute, the Vanderbilt Hall will be full of the escapees, a perfect time for the second explosion to happen. Therefore, the bombing will affect as many people as possible.
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Immediately after the second blast happens, our escape plan will take place. Firstly, we will destroy all the machinery and equipment used in the operation such as computers and any other materials that could be used as evidence. The destruction process will take approximately three minutes after which the group will meet the driver at the back side of the house. The planning committee has approximated that the minimum response time for the authorities after the blast is three minutes and, therefore, the three minute destruction time will be enough without risking being found by the authorities. The driver, who is already instructed on the best way to follow, shall move at a speed that will not arouse any suspicions of road inspection units. It will be a long journey back to Mexico and due to our fast escape plan the authorities will not be able to intercept us even after securing a perimeter because we shall be already out of the vicinity. Our group considered all the routes and chose the route that usually does not have regular road checks.
We chose the route along the coast line and also accommodated for any routine checks on our way by having fake American Passports with us. We strictly decided not to carry with ourselves any item that could raise the suspicion of the authorities in case of a check. At the Mexican border we will switch to airplane waiting for us courtesy of the organization. The plane will take us to the Mexican warehouse of the terror group where we shall stay until things have cooled down. The road escape from the United States will be risky due to regular checks, but our agreement not to carry anything that could act as evidence will work on our favor. Mexican authorities do not have strict border security inspections meaning that travel to the safe house will be less risky (Kydd, 2006, p. 66-70). The return to Afghanistan will depend on how fast the attack wave will wade. Flying from Mexico to Afghanistan will not be difficult because the organization has strong links in administrations of both countries.
Cost to the Group
After analysis and considering the cheapest possible methods of our operation, we have identified areas where we can use organization facilities to minimize costs. Firstly, computers, cell phones and guns that will ensure effectiveness of the operation do not need to be outsourced. The organization has all the equipment which allows saving a considerable sum of money. Transportation from Afghanistan to Mexico can be facilitated by the organization by the use of the group driver if it will be available (Kydd, 2006, p. 53-57). This will also reduce the risks of checkups at entry points. Transportation to and from the Mexican-United States border can also be facilitated by the organization with the use of the driver based in Mexico. After quantifying the infrastructural support, we estimated a total cost of $1.3 million. It is a considerable amount, but compared to the costs that would be incurred if the infrastructure was outsourced, the amount is fair. We cannot risk using the organization equipment in the United States due to their security systems; therefore, outsourcing will be the best option.
United States Government Reaction to the Attack
The possible reactions from the United States government can be classified as immediate or gradual. Firstly, immediate reactions will involve rescue operations on the victims of the attack. All rescue efforts including personnel and recovery infrastructure would be applied to save lives as much as possible. The other immediate efforts would be concentrated on capturing the attackers; therefore, cordoning all the buildings and infrastructure near the Grand Terminus would be enacted to reduce the probability of escape of the attackers. The reactions would include attack on any suspected terror base either in the United States or outside the country. Another immediate reaction would be arrests of any suspected individuals who would impede the investigation process. To help in the investigations, all the international activities such as international travel through air, rail, road and water would be halted and all the entry pints of the country would be closed (Jones & Libicki, 2008, p. 99-104). Possibly, a state of emergency would also be declared for the purpose of limiting movement. Any movement inside or outside the country would be restricted to ensure that the attackers do not escape the country.
The gradual strategies will be aimed at long-term solutions to terror attacks. Firstly, the government would seek explanations from all the security agencies concerned with combating terrorism on the status of the attack. The Senate would also interview the leaders of the agencies to find answers on how the attack could happen under their watch. After interviews and determination of the reason of poor intelligence and incompetence of the security agencies, the government would seek to review the agencies especially the ones with responsibilities of gathering intelligence information such as the Central Intelligence Agency. As a result, some leaders of the agencies found incompetent would be demoted. The government would also revise its security guidelines to ensure that every place has enough security and the systems are also strong to prevent any hacking. The government would also embark on tightening the security of all social and other vulnerable areas to prevent such attacks in the future (Jones & Libicki, 2008, p. 129-133).
Ataskforce would also be created to perform deep investigations on the causes of such attacks and possible solutions. The above measures are only the internal reactions of the government. The United States government would also advocate more international policies to be put in place to combat terror (Cronin, 2011, p. 39-44). As a measure to reduce terrorism instances in the country, measures such as restrictions in visa applications would be noticed; undoubtedly the suspected leaders of terror groups would be banned from entering the USA. Assets of suspected terror group leaders would most probably be frozen. Lastly, the United States government would increase its external intelligence especially in those countries alleged to house terror groups (Cronin, 2011, p. 46-49). In conclusion, the government would take all measures possible to ensure that such attacks never happens on United States of America soil or any property of the government in another country.