Subways and Bus Stations at High Terrorist Risk
“Transportation is always a top target for terrorists.” –Nick Casale, former director of Counterterrorism for New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority
When you think of terrorists attacking our transportation system, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that airlines are the top target. But all transportation infrastructures are at risk.
Subways. Buses. Train stations. Bridges. Harbors.
These are all high-value targets that, if attacked, will result in high casualty rates. Such an attack would also cause major disruptions locally, and in many cases, nationally.
Transportation Systems Make Appealing Targets
In the last ten years, worldwide, there have been 250 terrorist attacks with transportation as the target.
Transportation systems make appealing targets. It’s impossible to check everyone that enters. The level of security you see at airports just isn’t there for subways or buses. And we wouldn’t want it to be.
But that means your own personal vigilance and readiness must be at an all-time high.
Recent intelligence revealed that an attack on French and U.S. subway systems might be in the works. Attacks on buses, and especially bus stations, are growing in popularity around the world.
Whenever you are in a well-populated center of transportation, your risk of falling victim to a terrorist attack goes up.
How to Recognize an Impending Attack
According to experts, terrorists tend to mimic attacks that have come before. They also favor methods that other terrorists have used.
Currently the most likely targets for attack are bus or subways stations. Terrorists are likely to use multiple bombs in their attacks. Conventional bombs are more reliable than chemical or biological weapons. And more contained. Using multiple bombs increases the number of casualties.
Plan to be extra alert whenever you are traveling by bus (if your travels will take you to a bus station) or subway.
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for unattended packages or bags and report them to security immediately.
Keep an eye out for people who look nervous. Or whose movements are out of keeping with the typical passenger. And keep in mind that an estimated 21 percent of radical Islamic terrorists in the U.S. are white. So don’t just pay attention to people who fit the typical image of a terrorist. Watch for anyone who is behaving suspiciously, or who just doesn’t seem to fit.
According to Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, terrorists engage in specific types of activity leading up to an attack. If you regularly take a subway or travel by bus, watch for the following:
- Surveillance—People who are monitoring an area, drawing diagrams or maps, following the movements of station personnel, or recording the activity of the station may be in the planning stages of an attack. Let a security person know if you observe any of this kind of activity.
- Tests of Security—A terrorist group may try to trigger a reaction by security personnel so they can observe the response. If your local subway or bus station seems to be having small breaches in security that may indicate it’s a target for a future attack.
In today’s climate, you might consider a means of travel other than bus or subway. Especially if you have noticed a series of suspicious events at your local bus or subway station.
Taxi cabs … rental cars … bikes … carpools. These are all options that are safer from terrorist attacks.
Your daily commute—if you use public transportation—is the time you will most likely become the victim of a terrorist attack. By knowing what to watch for, you’ll be better able to protect yourself and your fellow travelers.
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