Grim Course Covers 'Human Weapons'
By WILLIAM FREEBAIRN
SPRINGFIELD - In an alleyway behind the Smith & Wesson training center on St. James Boulevard, a confrontation is taking place between two law enforcement personnel and a nervous man wearing a heavy coat.
The officers grab the man and begin trying to pry his fingers off a detonator button attached by several wires to a vest of explosives.
"Get him down," screams one of the men and the exercise is over.
The incident took place during a five-day training course on suicide bombers offered by an Israeli company. About a dozen military, police and government employees took the course this week at the Smith & Wesson facility.
The training sessions were held by International Security and Defence Systems, a company based in Nir-Zvi, Israel.
It has a new marketing partnership with Smith & Wesson and will be offering security seminars at the Springfield company''s training center on a regular basis.
The course on suicide bombers is one of the first such courses offered in the United States. Courses on this and other security topics will be offered in Springfield again in January.
"The suicide bomber is a human weapon," said Leo Gleser, president of ISDS International. "The weapon is going to decide where to go and what to do."
Most Arabs do not support the use of terrorist attacks, but a minority of the population does, Gleser said.
"Terrorists are growing up in places where there are a lot of problems," he said.
The best way to deter such attacks is to battle using security forces, but also to cut the economic and social support for suicide bombers, said Gleser, a former military and intelligence operative.
Some of the students in the class have recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan, where suicide attacks have taken place.
Classes focused on getting physical control over potential suicide bombers, immobilizing them and preventing them from detonating the explosives, Gleser said. Capturing such a person alive is of great importance to the intelligence system, providing information about the network of bomb-makers, recruiters and planners.
In a series of mock incidents behind the training facility, different students played the part of a suicide bomber, complete with a realistic explosive vest with hand-held detonator.
David Minyard, a civilian U.S. Department of Defense contractor, said the training course left him with a better idea about the reality of such situations.
"We have to ensure that what we''re doing corresponds to real-world scenarios," he said.
The suicide bomber class was only open to law enforcement and military officials, with students including members of police SWAT teams, Army Rangers and military special forces units.
International Security & Defense Systems, an 11-year-old multinational corporation, offers security services, planning and training to companies, sporting events and the military.
Gleser said his company''s affiliation with Smith & Wesson, one of the nation''s largest and oldest gunmaker, was natural.
"It''s a very old company, a symbol. For us it''s fantastic to be associated with them," he said.
Teaching U.S. military and law enforcement officials about suicide bombers is more relevant than it may sound at first, officials said. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were a form of suicide bombing, Gleser said.
The suicide bombing approach is spreading from Israel to other locations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, said instructor Jean Safra, a former Israeli military officer.
"It''s a new doctrine that you can see all over the world now," he said.
"In our country, we are inside the problem already. You have a chance to prevent the problem."
For more information, visit the Smith & Wesson web site.
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