|Possible Types of Suspicious Activity|
If there is a specific target that terrorists have chosen, that target area will most likely be observed during the planning phase of the operation. This is done to determine the strengths, weaknesses and number of personnel that may respond to an incident. Routes to and from the target are usually established during the surveillance phase. It is important to note suspicious actions such as someone recording or monitoring activities, drawing diagrams or annotating on maps, using vision-enhancing devices, and having in one's possession floor plans or blueprints of places such as high-tech firms, financial institutions, or government/military facilities. Any of these surveillance-type acts may be an indicator that something is not right and should be reported immediately.
This includes anyone attempting to gain information about a place, person or operation. An example is someone attempting to gain knowledge about a critical infrastructure like a power plant, water reservoir or a maritime port. Terrorists may attempt to research bridge and tunnel usage, make unusual inquiries concerning shipments or survey military base operations.
- Tests of Security
Tests of security are another area in which terrorists would attempt to gather data. This is usually conducted by driving by the target, moving into sensitive areas and observing security or law enforcement response. Items of interest would include the time in which it takes to respond to an incident or the routes taken to a specific location. Terrorists may also try to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses. Often, legitimate employment is gained at key locations to monitor day-to-day activities and gather detailed knowledge in order to make their mission or scheme more effective.
- Acquiring Supplies
It may be a case where someone is purchasing, storing or stealing explosives, weapons or ammunition. It could also be someone storing harmful chemical equipment in public storage. Terrorists would also find it useful to acquire law enforcement equipment and identification, military uniforms and decals, as well as flight passes, badges or even flight manuals. If they cannot find the opportunity to steal these types of things, they may try to photocopy identification badges or attempt to make passports or other forms of identification by counterfeiting. Any of these items would make it easier for one to gain entrance to secured or prohibited areas as well as conceal their identities.
- Suspicious People Who Don't Belong
Another pre-incident indicator of terrorism is the presence of suspicious people who just "don't belong." This does not mean we should profile individuals, but does mean we should recognize and report suspicious behaviors that do not comport to the setting. This includes suspicious border crossings, stowaways aboard a ship or people jumping ship in a port. It may mean having someone in a workplace, building, neighborhood or business establishment that does not fit in because of their demeanor or unusual questions being asked.
- Dry Runs
Another sign to watch for are "dry runs." Before execution of the final operation or plan, a practice session will be conducted to work out the flaws or unanticipated problems. A dry run may be the heart of the planning stage of a terrorist act. If you find someone monitoring a police radio frequency and recording emergency response times, you may be observing a dry run. Multiple dry runs are normally conducted at or near the target area. Dry runs may take place away from selected targets and may include firearms or explosives training on public lands.The medical community is encouraged to report to law enforcement when a patient seeks medical attention for suspicious chemical burns, rare biological infections or injuries caused by explosive devices.
- Deploying Assets/Getting into Position
They may also attempt to place "key" people in sensitive work locations to advance their plots. Look for suspicious placement of material or people into position. It is also important to remember that pre-incident indicators may come months or even years before an attack. It is also possible that the terrorist cells would photograph or video tape before, during and after an attack.
- Terrorist Funds
An important component that enables terror organizations to fulfill their nefarious objectives center on illegal activities that potentially produce a financial benefit. The profits generated can advance terrorist causes and objectives through the purchase of weapons, propaganda, fictitious documents, vehicles, bribes and travel. Some of the profit-based activities used by terrorists are as follows: use of Front Businesses and Charities, Counterfeiting Money and Goods, Narcotics Manufacturing, Sales and Transportation Activities, Smuggling and Import/Export Violations, Robbery/Theft, Fraud (Credit Card, Insurance, Social Benefits, Food Stamps, etc.), Tax Avoidance Schemes, Phone Scams and Cell Phone Activity.