Crime & Terrorism

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom.

The threat of terrorism has become one of the most disturbing aspects of modern life. Acts of terrorism include bomb threats, bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, cyber attacks (computer-based), and the threat/use of chemical, biological and radiological attacks.

Targets for acts of terrorism have included airports, aircraft, military and police facilities, high-profile landmarks, large public gatherings, water and food supplies, and utilities.

Suicide attack is one of the most deadly and terrifying tactics of modern terrorists. Since the year 2000 many countries have found themselves suffering the effects of this growing terrorist modus operandi, including: Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Sri Lanka, India, Panama, Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Argentina, Croatia, Turkey, Tanzania, Kenya, Russia, Spain, Britain and the USA.

In addition, many more plots in other countries have been exposed and thwarted before the attackers were able to carry out their plans. The suicide bomber carries an explosive device to the target and, therefore, can ensure that the device is detonated at the optimal location and timing so as to maximise casualties and destruction.

One particularly horrific attack occurred on 1st February 2008 in Iraq, when insurgents attached explosives to two mentally handicapped women and detonated them remotely, killing over 70 people. The attacks on September 11th, 2001 showed that terrorists can even execute massive suicide attacks without explosives.

Few targets are as attractive to terrorists as civil aviation, owing to the fear and media interest that aviation attacks generate. Beginning in the late 1960s, increasingly robust layers of security measures were put in place in response to aviation terrorism. Yet, after four decades, the aviation sector was still vulnerable, as was demonstrated by the events of September 11th, 2001.

For hijackers, passenger aircraft offer higher concentrations of potential hostages in a more controllable environment than almost any other target.

For bombers, the pressurised environments of aircraft can intensify the effects of explosions to maximise casualties. A small explosion that might kill only a few people on the ground can kill hundreds in the air because it only takes a few ounces of high-explosive to destroy an aircraft flying at altitude.

In August 2004, two female Chechen suicide terrorists exploded IEDs on two domestic Russian passenger aircraft that had flown out of Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow, killing all on board both aircraft.

A tactic used on occasion by terrorists and criminals is to hide items inside an innocent person’s luggage in the hope that they will not show any signs of nervousness when they pass through security checks.

Another terrorist tactic is to give something, maybe a wrapped gift, to someone who is about to board an aircraft. An innocent-seeming object may actually be a bomb, illegal drugs, or other prohibited items.

As well as the threat from terrorists, there are also threats to civil aviation from criminals, the mentally ill, bogus refugees, and even people with revenge motives such as disgruntled ex-employees.

Even totally innocent people can be a threat by inadvertently carrying a potentially dangerous item in their luggage aboard an aircraft. There are huge numbers of potentially dangerous items, including firearms, IEDs, bladed items, toxic chemicals, highly inflammable substances, and other threat items according to ECAC, ICAO and EU prohibited items lists.