A reminder about terrorism indicators

The State Department has issued guidance to American travelers abroad that terrorists may be planning an attack in Europe modeled after the November 2008 attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

This is as good a time as any to reinforce some basic things to keep in mind while on patrol, because as PoliceOne Columnist Ron Avery wrote here, and PoliceOne Columnist Dick Fairburn said here, it’s not a matter of “if” but of “when” a Mumbai-style attack is attempted here in the United States.

A friend of PoliceOne at LEO.gov recently distributed a resource containing some excellent insights, and with his permission we pass them along below.

He writes, “These are potential indicators. Investigators must take into account the totality of the circumstances when initiating further action.”

Add your own insights in the comments.

Unusual Possessions
Specialized training manuals
Blueprints and/or building plans
Documentation about critical infrastructure points
Numerous prepaid calling cards and/or mobile phones
Documentation about high-profile sites

VBIED Indicators
Vehicle riding low in rear
Unusual wires/switches
Large boxes, bags or containers
Odor of fuel or chemicals evident
Parked near critical interest area
Observation of smoke from vehicle

Surveillance Indicators
Note taking
Prolonged loitering
Penetration attempts
Surreptitious camera use
Unusual interest in security

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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