Improving Security on Transit Terrorism

Terrorism and counterterrorist activity is the real challenge of contemporary life for USA and many other countries in the world. Terrorism can be defined as “the use of violence to create fear in the larger audience in order to create change in that larger audience” (Garris, 2003). Due to the visual easiness of the attack’s performance, transit terrorism (the acts of terrorism that occurred in public transportation system) is one of the most crucial threats for everyday life of millions of people and one of the possible and sometimes the easiest ways for terrorists to cause a serious damage, panic and fear in society and, consequently, an effort to promote necessary political consequences. The task of improving security on transit terrorism includes some critical points. Care and suspicion can take place, but not prejudice and panic as openness of society and respect to human rights and private life should be safe. However, it is crucial to recognize the impossibility of complete elimination of the threat of terrorist attacks against public transportation system because of complexity of the issue; thus, the ways for the constant improving of security in public transportation should be prepared.

The rapid increasing of the terrorist attacks’ number can be observed clearly from the beginning of the 1970. The most of the attacks of buses in this decade were committed in Israel or against the citizens of Israel. This chain began on February 10, in Munich, when Arab terrorists killed and wounded some of the Israel citizens. It was the beginning - Israel was attacked in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. In 1979, Israel survived some attacks – both against buses (8 March, 16 April) and trains (4 March, 2 November, 19 November). It should be noticed that attacks against trains began in Great Britain, where explosions of the 1970th are believed to be connected to the IRA activity. These explosions began in the Victoria, Euston’s and King’s Cross station on September 8, 1973, and then happened on April 6, 1974 (Birmingham station), October 9, 1975 (Green Park subway station), March 4, 15 and 18 of 1976. Furthermore, in 1970, attacks occur in France (1974, 1977, 1979), Austria (1972, 1974), Netherlands (1975, 1977 – connected with the South Moluccan terrorists’ activity), Italy (1974, 1977).

Transit terrors continued in 1980th . In Israel, its beginning was on April 22, 1980 by a grenade in the bus, then, it was followed by the chain of mutual Arab-Israel terror attacks in 1983 and 1984. In 1985, Israel survived 14 attacks against buses. Hijacking and attacks against buses continued in 1986 (3), 1987 (1), 1988 (2) and 1989 (3). In the United Kingdom, IRA activity followed to further explosions, which began on January 27, 1981 (Belfast-Dublin railway line). One more attack occurred in 1981, followed by attacks  in 1982, 1986, 1987; moreover, in the period between1988 and 1989 more than 60 bomb attacks and threats were carried out, namely on the line Belfast-Dublin. In addition, it can be seen that in the decade, the list of the countries, where acts of the transport terrorism happened, enlarged considerably, not only with the number of European countries, but also with some Asian and American ones. Attacks were in France (1980, 1981(3), 1982, 1983 (3), 1984 (3), 1986 (2),1989), Italy (1980, 1984), Switzerland (1980, 1981 (2), 1985), China(1980, 1982,1989), South Africa(1981, 1985), India(1981, 1983, 1984 (2), 1985, 1987 (2), 1989 (2)), Pakistan(1981, 1986, 1987 (6), 1988(6), 1989(5)), Germany(1981, 1984, 1985, 1987 (2), 1988), Spain(1984(2), 1985, 1986, 1988), Canada(1985(2), 1989), Sri Lanka(1985, 1986 (2), 1988), Peru(1985, 1986, 1988 (3)), Mozambique(1985, 1987), Chile(1985 (2)), Japan(1985), Syria(1986), Philippines(1987),  Iraq(1987), Iran(1982), Thailand(1989). Therefore, vehicles and stations were obviously vulnerable targets to show the power of different terrorist organizations, which used the attacks for obtaining their political goals inside the countries or as one of the means for national liberation (Jenkins, 1997).

The story of the transit terrorism in 1990th and 2000th can be described by some horrible attacks in the largest cities of the world, when the weaknesses of existing security systems in public transport were obviously shown. Despite the fact that a large part of the attacks was made against buses, and thereby the possibility of terroristic act hypothetically exists even for a small town, it should be noticed, that attacks in a big city with the large transport systems seem to be more logic. Big cities, especially capitals, are between the preferable aims because of the essential media effect, stronger political influence, and because these cities are the suitable aims for the enemies - for inner as well as for outer, which every powerful state has in a great number. This statement proves a fact of powerful attacks against the largest cities of the world, which happened during the period after 2000.

The first one in this chain was the attack in Tokyo subway. It was the first usage of poisoning gas in the underground. The members of religious cult Aum Shinriquo released sarin that led to the death of the 11 passengers and illnesses of thousands of others. The main factor was that subways are vitally important for Tokyo, where millions use these lines everyday as cars are overcrowded everyday. That is why the attack occurred in the morning, when more than a thousand people were in the contaminated coaches (Jenkins &Gersten, 2001). It should be noticed that the police was not ready to such a situation, and the character of Tokyo’s subway work did not allow avoiding the attack. The main measures after attack were the following: security cameras were installed on all stations; new patrols of special security guard train were created to detect a suspicious activity and objects.

Then, Paris suffered from the terrorist attack of the Armed Islamic group. This bombing campaign (July 1995 – December 1996) was connected with the civil war in Algeria. Bombs were mounted under the sittings (bombing at St. Michele station – 7/27/1995). The measures after the attack were: placement of barriers to protect vital systems, installation of CCTV system, improvement of smoking evacuation system, devices to prevent placing the bags under the seats were installed, and fireproof materials for redesigning the trains were used.

In 2004, attacks on subway system in Madrid were executed on March 11, 2004 (200 fatalities and 1800 injures). After that, the usage of security dog service began, as well as X-ray machines, fixed and mobile scanners purchasing were made.

The attack in London, occurred on July 7, 1995, was performed by suicide bombers (the first case in Europe). This was the new task, when terrorist do not leave the bag with bomb. This attack showed the necessity to develop CCTV system, which helps to recognize a suspicious behavior, as well as scanners for concealed weapons.

These examples show that the main efforts in combat with the terrorism should be concentrated in the places, where the likelihood and effect of the terrorism are higher and have a greater impact on the economics and politics. It seems certain that if about one third of all transit trips occurred in metropolitan area of New York, a corresponding part of the efforts and facilities should be focused on this place. On the one hand, it is reasonable and in accordance with the significance and weight of transporting systems of New York, as well as other great cities.  Besides, the rationality of this proportional concentration, focusing the main effort on the greatest metropolitan systems, would have additional effects. As it was stated earlier, a terrorist attack is a public act; therefore, it should be done with the most media effect and in the most harmful and fearing way. The difficulties in performance of such attacks in an easy way surely do not eliminate the possibility of these acts, especially, when there is usage of suicide bombers, but it can essentially reduce these risks. Therefore, if risks are the function of threat environment and target vulnerability, by decreasing one of the factors, there is a chance to decrease the risks level (Staes et al., 2006). The possibility to change the level of threats is arguable, but vulnerability can be changed by improving such aspects as facility characteristics, security force type, physical security measures, access and egress routes, additional security availability and emergency responder resources, communications and some other aspects. Then, the decrease of attacks’ number in big cities may lead to terrorists performing them against lesser targets, but the human losses would be reduced, and, taking into account that the main purpose of every terrorist act is to attract the public attention and scare people, this fact can indirectly decrease the number of attacks.

For the beginning, the key targets and aims of terrorists should be marked. Terrorists try to make changes in society, obtain some political goals by fearing people. People who are killed in result of terrorist attacks are not targeted specifically, the targeting is indirect. “Terrorism is (1) an intentional and (2) rational (3) act of violence to (4) cause fear (5) in the target audience or society (6) for the purpose of changing behavior in that audience or society” (The nature of terrorism, 2012). Being a public act, the mere fact that people were killed makes it an effective tool for terrorists in terms of obtaining their goals.

Therefore, terrorist attack, while being a rational act, tends to cause the most visible effect, such as damages and disruptions, human losses, and it is done in the easiest way. According to the terror experts’ opinion, transit infrastructure is a ripe target by its nature (Stephens, 2011). Being distinct from the airlines with their high level of security, the mass public transportation is extremely overcrowded and vulnerable to the attacks. At the same time, it is extremely hard to secure, taking into account that there are also other aims for the policy in such places, for example preventing the crimes and vandalism. Transportation systems have many access points that are free of any control; crowds of people are transported, making the prevention of terrorist attacks, which can be done by leaving the suitcase, specifically a difficult task. These transportation systems are open and dynamic, and they can not be closed and regulated like the air transport system (Taylor & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005). It contradicts the idea of public transportation systems, which serve millions of people, have hundreds of bus stops and stations and are the essential component of the everyday urban life. Thus, one of the crucial tasks is not to secure completely these systems as it is impossible, but to reduce the likelihood of the attack, as well as prevent terroristic acts. It can be expressed in such words “security does not exist. What does exist are methods to lessen insecurity” (Taylor & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005). Isolating of a public place is not possible; for the train and underground system, it can lead to delays and rising of the expenses, and it can be the threat for the society openness (Nascu, 2009). Moreover, speaking about the expenses, it is worth to say that if usage of more than 60 000 screeners for 2 millions of passengers of airplanes is possible, their usage for more than 26 million passengers of trains is inappropriate; subways and buses, as well as metal and explosive detectors, X-ray machines are difficult (Jenkins, 2004).

One of the reasons of difficulties in creation of the unified security systems for every public transporting system is immanent feature of every business, which is the rush to profits. There needs to be a reasonable balance between expenses of the transport companies and prices for the customer.  Price should be reasonable, as well as fast, reliable and safe transportation should be provided. The key task for every transport company is to attract the passengers, because they have alternative – individual cars, which increasing usage is the challenge for transportation systems.  In order to attract passengers, public transport should not be too expensive, as well as it should be comfortable for passengers; delays and feelings that make people stressed have to be avoided.  Taking into account that transporting passengers is the main task for the transportation system, the benefits of the higher security level that needs additional resources and potentially can cause some troubles in its adopting, are uncertain, and at the same time, attracting clients is the main cause for every business, while matters of price and reliability are critical points. Secure measures should be implemented, but they should be convenient and not expensive. This demand is critical for the increasing of the security of different transit systems.

As it can be seen, security is a complicated thing to obtain. Reasonably, according to the financial matters, some points should be estimated. First, it is crucial to decide what security level is needed for the specific transport mode. Second task is to evaluate the present level. Third, the steps for the improvement of the situation should be defined. It is essential to notice that if airline industry adopted the international security procedures and standards, the other modes, for example, the public transit, did not. (Taylor & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005). It can be explained by the fact that it is vitally necessary for the airline industry and by the availability of more resources for them. This measure is more difficult to perform in the public transport. Standardization of the security audits will help to establish a common level of security within the public transport systems. Standardization of the emergency training of the staff will improve the coordination with intelligence officials, such as police and fire, when emergency occurs. Standardization of the disaster preparedness procedure will help passengers in the time of emergency, since standard emergency marking and announcements reduce the risk of confusing. Standardization itself and development of the security standards and procedures need resources that smaller transit operators do not have (Taylor & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005). Having different resource available, management of these companies needs a standard guidance, which will help them in answering different questions that arise when establishing their own secure system (Policing and security practices for small- and medium-sized public transit system, 2011). Therefore, the issuing of the common security guidelines is the significant task in the creation of new level of transport security.

Mutual coordination and cooperation with the local, state and federal agencies are the critical point for achieving a due level of security. One of the key elements of planning counterterrorist measures for every transport agency is access to information about potential terrorist threats and activities. In addition, it should be noticed that clarifying the jurisdictional relationships is the key element for establishing effective coordination (Boyd & Sullivan, 1997). After such step that can be resulted in the mutual agreement, transport agency can define its own responsibility and provide an effective planning of actions during the attack.

Passengers’ education and informing can be one of the valuable parts of counter-terrorist measures. Surely, passengers involved have their limits, as well as the risks.  First, passengers’ acknowledgements about what should be done in case of the terrorist attack can lower the human panic and, therefore, decrease the human losses and damage. On the other hand, behavior of the big masses of people can hardly be foreseen. Furthermore, at the time of the attacks against trains and subways, passengers hurry, so effectiveness of their informing is limited. Moreover, it is impossible to educate all passengers in general, which is the reason why panic can occur despite all efforts to inform people about the proper behavior during the attack. Another form of coordination between police and passengers, such as “Text against terror” and other possible forms, is also arguable. “See something, say something” can help the policy, because of millions additional eyes to see and evaluate a suspicious activity (Stephens, 2011). Nevertheless, such program can be considered as the waste of money (Ruppert, 2012). Furthermore, it can lead to the ungrounded fear in society. One of the main tasks is to create a balance. People should not feel excessive security that can create fear and affect the openness of the society; additionally, there should not be the perception of the low level of security. Thus, passengers’ education and cooperation with the police is essential. People should know how to behave during attacks, how they can leave the place of the attack and what they have to do further, as well as how to help others, if it is necessary. Such state of the things can be described as confident readiness. Securing activity should not create the atmosphere of paranoia and fear, because this will be an indirect help to terrorists in creating a panic and increasing the damage and victim’s number (Taylor & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2005).

In order to improve the security on transit, following points should be considered as general ways to constantly increasing security levels.

1. Proper pre-incident preparedness should be done, such as threat analysis, and, furthermore, all transport operators should have the overall security plan. This is the base for every activity.

2. Station and vehicle designs should be at the proper level. Fences and physical barriers, as well as access to control system for protecting the vital systems are the necessary elements. Availability of trash cans and other places, where bombs can be mounted, have to be limited. Emergency evacuation routes should ensure a high level of safety in emergency situations. The vehicle construction should exclude the possibility to burn or produce toxic fumes, while burning (Jenkins, 2001). One of the measures to check the state of stations and vehicles can be monitoring through the whole country. The self-diagnostic of the present problems promote a better control and security. Primary efforts should be concentrated on big cities with great transportation systems.

3. Implementation of the close circuit television throughout all the subways and railway stations is a vital necessity. Hurry and presence of crowds of people on the stations sometimes makes the control by patrols and participation of passengers in the detection of a suspicious activity impossible.

4. Regular and constant trainings for the staff is a mandatory measure, and some of these trainings can be held in the form of reproducing the real situation and performed unexpectedly for the staff (for example, imitation of mounting the bomb) in order to check the possibility of the staff to counterattack the terrorism.

5. One of the possible measures is gradual enlarging of security forces. Passengers should not feel the sudden increasing of the number of officers, but their quantity should be enough. This will give people the feeling of being secure and may encourage them to be more vigilance and cooperate with the police.

6. The system of screening of passengers like existing in aviation industry is not applicable, but it does not meat that idea of screening is not applicable at all. Further development of the technologies can decide this problem. The systems of detection of the chemical and biological agents need a constant improvement (Jenkins, 2001).

In conclusion, it should be noticed that there are several key points in securing of the transit terrorism. First, public transportation systems are extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks, decreasing this vulnerability can increase expenses, make the transport operation inconvenient and less attractive for passengers. The history of the issue shows that terrorists all over the world understand this fact and often choose public transportation systems as a preferable target for the attacks, despite the increasing level of security. The main factor is the presence of great masses of people that makes the consequences of the successful attacks more harmful. One of the most crucial demands to obtain a higher level of transport security is coordination between transport agencies and different state and federal agencies. The main ways to improve security are a proper planning, constant trainings for the staff, and maximal improving of the station and vehicle designs, providing a proper participation of passengers in detecting a suspicious activity. The main issue is not to create the atmosphere of panic and fear, but to perceive the threat of the terrorist attacks in the public transport as a problem that can and should be decided on a daily basis.