The Difference between Responding versus Neutralizing a Terrorist Attack
As the number of terrorist attacks grow throughout Europe and the US we witness a lot of confusion regarding operational terminology pertinent to terror attacks. The common terms used are prevention and response.
But what do they mean? Prevention is usually associated with defensive measures of security designed to stop the attack from taking place or dissuade the perpetrators from selecting you as a target. Simultaneously, response is associated with the actions taken after a terror attack has initiated which are usually none except counting the dead or in some cases trying to eliminate or arrest the respective terrorists while they take hostages or try to run away.
However, there is a great contradiction which is common to both terms. Both actions are not happening in real time. they are either before or after the attack has taken place leaving a huge vacuum of activity which is wasted and not active. In addition, both activities are defensive in nature.
We propose the use of a single terminology in the fight against terror. The only term which encompasses all the required activities is neutralization. Neutralizing a terrorist attack is an offensive activity which when carried successfully allows you to stop an attack either before it has initiated or as early as possible in order to minimize the threat.
It may seem to you the same as prevention and response but it is not. Neutralization is proactive and offensive and requires specific people for this job. Neutralization is about surprising the enemy in his home ground. Now let us analyze what homegrown means as it has a double meaning. In the first meaning, home ground refers to the area where terrorists operate, train and plan attacks- This could be many locations. In the second context, neutralizing terrorists in their home ground means doing it in their selected location for an attack. This means that in your installation you must have the resources for performing the neutralization process- not the police , which arrives at the scene after the attack has taken place.
How many installations do you know in the US and Europe that have the resources for neutralizing terrorist attacks??? Probably none!
They have security, plans and procedures but they cannot respond in real time and rely on first responders which are called to the site after the attack has taken place!! This is not neutralization.
Neutralization is the only term that needs to be translated into official policy, strategy and operations within every sensitive installation. Remember, this is in addition to the crucial assistance to civilians.