Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Know your suicide bombers, and know what to do about them

Someone thought he had seen the "suicide bomber checklist" online. Here is part of a training key put out by the International Association of Chiefs of Police:

Following is a checklist for observing, reporting, responding and investigating suicide bombing incidents. It is not designed as acomprehensive or complete list of all considerations in these areas but is suggestive of the types of common concerns that may affect police and other emergency service responders. A noted authority on terrorism 1states that Israeli authorities and psychologists have carefully developed behavioral profiles that might help security personnel identify a potential suicide bomber. The following are among the most obvious signs of such persons according to this source. Such profiles are valuable not only for law enforcement personnel but for all persons who work in security or related fields in facilities or other locations that are potential targets or, where intelligence indicates an elevated risk of a terrorist attack.

[. . .]

• The wearing of heavy clothing, no matter what the season. Long coats or skirts may be used to conceal explosive belts and devices.
• An unusual gait, especially a robotic walk. This could indicate someone forcing or willing himself or herself to go through with a mission.
• Tunnel vision. The bomber often will be fixated on the target and for that reason will look straight ahead. He or she also may show signs of irritability, sweating, tics, and other nervous behavior. (The Al Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam, who was captured at a border crossing in Washington state while driving a car filled bomb-making materials, caught the attention of authorities because of his excessive sweating, furtive eyes, and other nervous movements.)
• The appearance of being drugged. The suicide truck bomber who attacked the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 had been drugged before the attack and was tied to the seat of his vehicle.
• Signs of drug use—including, for example, enlarged pupils, fixed stare, and erratic behavior.
• Bags or backpacks (used to carry explosives, nails, and other shrapnel). The bomber generally holds his or her bag or backpack tightly, sometimes gingerly, and may refuse to be separated from it.
• A fresh shave—a male with a fresh shave and lighter skin on his lower face may be a religious Muslim zealot who has just shaved his beard so as not to attract attention, and to blend in better with other people in the vicinity.
• A hand in the pocket or tightly gripping something—this could be someone clutching a detonator or a trigger for an explosive device. Such triggers, which may be designed in the form of button, usually are rather stiff so that they may not be set off accidentally. (One Israeli acquaintance described how he and several guards shot a would-be bomber numerous times, but found his twitching finger still on the button—and still posing a danger, thereafter.)
• Evasive movements. It seems obvious that anyone who tries to avoid eye contact, or to evade security cameras and guards, or who appears to be surreptitiously conducting surveillance of a possible target location, may be a bomber.

This is from Part II and gives advice on what to do when a suicide bomber has been postitvely identified:

Lethal force is justified if the suspect represents a significant threat of death or serious injury to an officer or others. Federal laws and rulings are better attuned to the type of national security threat that suicide bombers represent from both a criminal and civil liability perspective. Officers should be reminded that the law does not require that the threat of death or serious injury be imminent, as is sometimes noted in police use-of-force policies. This point is very important in any deadly force encounter, but even more so when one is dealing with explosive devices capable of widespread death and destruction. One need not wait until a suicide bomber makes a move or takes other action potentially sufficient to carry out the bombing when officers have reasonable basis to believe that the suspect has the capability to detonate a bomb. The threat of such use is, in most instances, sufficient justification to employ deadly force. An officer need only determine that the use of deadly force is objectively reasonable under The circumstances.

• If lethal force is justified or authorized, aim for the head. Police officers are trained to fire at center body mass. Using this tactic against suicide bombers is inappropriate for two reasons. First, it may only wound the bomber, and a wounded bomber may still detonate the device. While suicide bombers are not known to wear body armor, it has happened. Second, if a round hits the explosive device, it may detonate. Some explosives, such as smokeless powder, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP)—a highly sensitive primary explosive manufactured from common chemicals such as acetone, peroxide—and acid (used by Palestinian bombers), and those that contain nitroglycerine, are sensitive to heat, shock, and friction. Hence, if lethal force is justified, all shots should be aimed at the bomber’s head—specifically, at the tip of the nose when facing the bomber, at the point of the ear canal from the side, or about one inch below the base of the skull from behind. An accurately placed head shot will terminate the bomber before he or she can take action to detonate the explosive device and will not accidentally set off the device. A fragmenting, high-velocity shot from a firearm such as an AR-15 at any of the above mentioned areas is ideal for immediately terminating the threat. When using lethal force, remember to fire from cover to avoid the effects of a potential explosion. In some instances an officer or officers may attempt to hold down a suicide bomber without success. Under such circumstances, take the head shot by placing the pistol directly to the bomber’s head in one of the aforementioned locations. Under no circumstances are tasers or other electrical discharge devices to be utilized against a bomber, as the charge they deliver may detonate the explosive device