The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a blast of good news even the major media outlets couldn't ignore in this prolonged struggle against terrorism. As great a blow this may be for one cell of Al Queda, we must remember with renewed concern the potential of a strike in our heartland.
That defense isn't handled with precision bombs or Predator drones but with the efforts of our intelligence community and good old fashioned police work. The captures of the Oklahoma City and Olympic Park bombers came from uniformed officers doing good basic patrol tactics. So, why bring that up now, why is it a good time to reflect here at home? For one thing our Canadian allies have just shown the power of homegrown extremism to pull together folks willing to cause great harm to the nation that has given them freedom, abundance, and peace. When you read the terrible plans of the seventeen arrested up North you breathe a sigh of relief it didn't happen but wonder who else is planning what?
Secondly, we are dealing with an enemy who cares a great deal about saving face. To recover their damaged honor Al Queda must do something dramatic soon and America is the highest profile target on the planet and you have to remind yourself of that everyday you go to work. If you have anything in your beat that might be construed to represent America, it is a possible target, from malls to school to baseball games. (Read Tom Clancy's The Teeth of the Tiger if you need a motivator for what local targets may be in your beat)
I know you are thinking the odds of you catching a terrorist are about the same as you winning the lottery…well, think of it as a terrorist lottery and that badge is your ticket to play. Trooper Charley Hanger didn't know he'd caught a terrorist when he arrested Timothy McVeigh, he was just doing good patrol work and arresting the bad guys as he caught. Surprise…he won the Terrorist Lottery.
You need to remember you hunt ALL EVIL, from petty thieves to terrorists, and the techniques that catch one often catch the other. The common element you've got to have is "Vigilance"! You are the hunter and you have got to keep looking, hunting, seeking.
As we teach in the Street Survival Seminar, a few things to pay attention to are the items in a violator vehicle like:
• Training manuals; flight, explosive, or military • Blueprints, extremist literature • Photographs of high profile targets • Numerous prepaid calling cards • GPS units, scanners, video cameras • Multiple hotel / motel receipts
Also, pay attention to such behaviors and credentials as:
• No current or fixed address • Fraudulent/altered; SS card, visas, licenses • Multiple identification cards/information; different spellings, dob's, etc, • Possession of international identification • No obvious signs of employment • Deceptive / avoidance type body language
Take a look at activities in hotels and motels such as:
• Unusual requests; refusal of maid service, asking for specific views of bridges, airports, particular facilities • Surveillance equipment in rooms • Use of lobby or pay phones • Unusual items left behind • Unusual hours and behavior
Common sense you say? You bet! Isn't that what good police work is?
The key is not relaxing and thinking our men and women overseas are the only ones in this fight. You are on the front lines, you have to keep your head in the game and the great thing is if you do, the worst that will happen is you will just end up catching a regular good old fashioned bad guy!!
About the author
Dave “Buck Savage” Smith is an internationally recognized law enforcement speaker, trainer, video personality, and author. He began his police career in the State of Arizona, holding positions in Patrol, SWAT, Narcotics, Supervision, Investigations, Training and Management. Dave holds numerous instructor certifications in firearms, defensive tactics, and human performance and is a proven expert witness and consultant.
In 1980 Dave developed the popular “JD Buck Savage” video training series and was a police instructor for the original “Street Survival” seminar by Calibre Press and was an intricate part of the company for nearly 30 years. He now writes for numerous publications, speaks internationally and is the author of the popular book In My Sights.
Dave is currently the owner of "Winning Mind Seminars" and the Director of Video Training for the online PoliceOne Academy. Dave Smith is one of the most well known law enforcement trainers on the market today and is available for appearances through his website at www.jdbucksavage.com.