Prevent a Terrorist Attack III: Understand the Terrorist Planning Cycle
The Terrorist Planning Cycle
Phase 1: Broad Target Selection. During broad target selection, terrorists collect information on numerous targets to evaluate their potential in terms of symbolic value, casualties, infrastructure criticality, or public attention
Phase 2: Intelligence & Surveillance: Terrorists secretly observe potential targets to detect vulnerabilities and plan attacks. With surveillance terrorists seek to identify predictable patterns that can be exploited in an attack
- Broad surveillance begins with less trained observers, local recruits, and informants.
- Expert operatives may be used for more intensive surveillance of prospective targets.
- As planning advances, terrorists may take pictures and perform walk- through rehearsal of actions.
- As the date of attack approaches, surveillance may become more secretive and limited, consequently, harder to detect.
- Surveillance may be conducted on foot, in vehicles, or using electronic devices.
- Terrorists may attempt surveillance by asking non-threatening and seemingly harmless questions
A surveillance team is harder to detect.
Surveillance is a critical pre-attack activity and a top priority for security programs.
Phase 3: Specific Target Selection. Specific targets are then identified for attack based on anticipated effects, publicity, consistency with overall objectives, and costs versus benefits of the attack.
Phase 4: Pre-Attack Surveillance and Planning. Terrorists may conduct additional surveillance to confirm previous information and gain additional details. During this stage, terrorists will select the method of attack, obtain weapons and equipment, recruit specialised operatives, and design escape routes
Phase 5: Rehearsals. Terrorists often rehearse the attack scenario to confirm planning assumptions, enhance tactics, and practice escape routes. They may also trigger an incident at the target site to test the reaction of security personnel and first responders
Phase 6: Actions on the Objective. Terrorists choose to execute attacks when conditions favour success with the lowest risk. Factors they consider include surprise, choice of time and place, use of diversionary tactics, and ways to impede response measures.
Phase 7: Escape and Exploitation. Unless an operation is a suicide attack, escape routes are carefully planned and rehearsed. Terrorists may exploit successful attacks by releasing pre-developed statements to the press
Other Planning Stages include: Acquiring Supplies, Funding and Fund Raising