Terrorists inflict fear. They are cunning and constantly changing to outwit their enemies. In their ever growing arsenal of minimizing identification, terrorists have taken a page from brutal serial killer Ted Bundy.
The notorious Theodore Robert Bundy was a promising law student who had good looks and charm. Yet, Bundy had a darkness within himself which propelled him to kill young women. Ted was a smart man who liked challenges, and so it was fitting that he chose a most difficult prey to hunt. Instead of killing prostitutes or runaways, Bundy set his sights on pretty, middle class college girls. This was more enthralling for the sadistic murderer. He knew that in order to catch his intended prey, he had to come up with a ruse which would make the girls let down their guards. Thus, he pretended to be injured when he approached them. He wore a cast. He made a big production out of being hurt so his victims would feel sorry for him. In this way, he could get close to the girls while raising less suspicion. Ted was very successful, and the girls paid a horrible price for being compassionate.
Terrorists have taken notice of the sympathy card, and they have smartly decided to play it. They believe in the mantra that people are fundamentally unaware of danger and likely to overlook security risks when dealing with the weak. And this strategy has worked for them. From using the disabled as martyrs, to disguising themselves as medical patients, to crossing into the U.S. illegally with fake Hispanic identities, terrorists study other successful predators and model their behaviors accordingly. Further, they study mass populace reactions and learn which buttons to push to garner pity.
In Iraq, terrorists have used handicapped children as suicide bombers. In fact, a child with Down’s syndrome was used to blow up a polling site in Baghdad. A bomb was placed around the child’s body, and he was marched to the polling location. His handlers then goaded him to walk to the target. But the terrified child paused. He became confused, and as a result, he turned and began walking to the terrorists who had sent him. The infuriated psychopaths immediately detonated the boy, furious that he had failed. At another time, terrorists used another Down’s syndrome child to throw grenades with the hope that U.S. soldiers would kill the boy. They believed that the disabled children would be able to get closer to their targets because people would be naturally less suspicious and even sympathetic to the injured.
In several instances, terrorists even have targeted children. 27 youngsters were killed in Iraq when al Qaeda used a suicide bomber to attack an area where U.S. soldiers were giving candy to Iraqi children. In another incident, a car bomb killed 30 at a hospital where U.S. soldiers were handing out toys and food for Iraqi children (Roggio, 2005). In Lebanon, Hezbollah put a rocket launcher on the roof of a building in which they had placed disabled children. The goal was to incite Israel to strike thus killing the handicapped (Israel Insider, 2006). And in yet another ploy, terrorists have been known to steal the toys from children so that they can booby trap cars with them. The hope is that gullible U.S. soldiers will see the toys and approach, looking to help children.
Along the same lines, terror groups have tried to use the guise of injury to pass security. Being in a wheelchair, wearing a cast, posing as gravely ill to “get treatment” in the States, and claiming asylum are all techniques employed by various groups. Mohammed Hammoud was one of 19 people indicted for global racketeering with money going to Hezbollah. Hammoud had slipped into the United States the way many would be terrorists had: he claimed asylum. Terror groups have used young people coming through the Caribbean with bogus passports and documents. Knowing they will be discovered, the youth are coached to act scared and claim that they are being persecuted (U.S. DOJ, 2006; Diaz & Newman, 2005). Being young and scared are tactics meant to throw security off.
There have even been cases of Middle Eastern individuals posing as Mexicans to cross the Southern U.S. border, knowing that the U.S. government is sympathetic toward illegal immigrants. This play on heart strings works to the advantage of terrorists who want to enter the U.S. illegally. Because many believe that illegal immigrants are merely people violating unjust laws for their life betterment, many look past the crime of being in the country illegally. This opens the door to not only those who are sex predators and killers, but obviously, it allows entry to would be terrorists as well. And once here, it can be relatively easy for an illegal immigrant to find work, even in allegedly secure areas of the U.S. government. For example, illegal immigrants have been discovered repairing U.S. Navy planes, preparing MRE for U.S. military, working as baggage handlers at LAX, working at a chemical weapons testing facility for DOD, working construction at several sensitive government locales including Buckley AFB, Cape Canaveral, Creech AFB, DOD Iowa Army ammunition plant, Ft. Bragg, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base-New Orleans, White Sands Missile range, and Y-12 National Security Complex (nuclear). Clever terror strategists such as Mugniyah surely have taken notice.
Islamic terrorists have been using many disguises to hide themselves. They hide in South America and work to convert indigenous people to Islam. They do so by using mirroring. Mirroring is the process of building rapport. To mirror, one mimics another’s movements and speech. Islamists have been basically saying that “you are just like us. You have been oppressed. We are your brothers, so you should convert to Islam.” They have been selling the notion that groups should throw off what they deem as imposed Caucasian Christianity. Some people in South America have accepted this and now work with al Qaeda and Hezbollah. These groups then look for aid which they can funnel to the terror groups.
And remember the influx of Chechens in the late 1990s? Because of the U.S. stance on Russia’s involvement with Chechnya, many refugees, often militant Islamists, flocked to the U.S. In fact, some with ties to al Qaeda moved to the United States. Chechens are light skinned, and many have blue eyes. Smartly, terrorists considered a knee-jerk reaction after 9/11 would include focusing on Middle Eastern men, so having the Chechen ties became strategic. Terrorists can be of any age and look like anyone. They are constantly in motion trying to further their causes, and as such, they will recruit people who do not fit any particular appearance profile.
Additionally, there is a concern with programs designed to assist with nuclear security. We have had projects to support nuclear nonproliferation in which visitors from foreign countries tour our nuclear facilities. Even people from states that sponsor terrorists are welcome. They learn everything from how the facilities work to how security is run, in specific detail. The argument is that by sharing our information, we can help these countries protect their nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists. One can see how a radical could easily infiltrate under the guise of trying to learn our security to protect foreign nuclear material. Similarly, terrorists can gain access to sensitive U.S. interests by getting jobs in companies overseas which support U.S. finance, hospitals, and transportation. Many technology centers have been moved to places such as India. Recently, Muslims have admitted using Hindu names and identities to escape what they perceive as discrimination against Muslims. Of course there is a risk of a radical Islamist infiltrating a company as a “Hindu Indian” to cause havoc on business sectors and even public health.
Islamic terrorists believe that they will be successful. Therefore, they will try anything. They will use the path of least resistance, and certainly if they can use the cover of being injured or appearing sympathetic, then they, like the infamous Ted Bundy can get close to their targets. There are innumerable vulnerabilities in the U.S. As a criminal profiler who has consulted with police and members of U.S. Military Intelligence, I see many similarities between serial murder and terrorism. Serial killers become whatever they need to be in order to get close to their victims. They have had jobs as doctors, police officers, military officers, pharmacists, and teachers. One can be sure, that if the lone serial killer is smart enough to get into these positions, a well financed terror organization can do the same.
Remember, people are not always what they appear to be.
From Dr. Schurman-Kauflin’s forthcoming book, “Disturbed: Terrorist Behavioral Profiles”.
The original article can be found at http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/