Terror bombings: US Embassies placed on high alert


By: Jim Kouri, CPP

As a result of the Christmas season bombings of the Ukrainian, Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, Italy, the U.S. State Department directed all U.S. Embassies to review security protocols including procedures for screening and opening mail.

On Monday, bomb squad technicians defused a mail bomb that arrived at the Greek Embassy. This latest incident occurred four days after similar mail bombs exploded at two other embassies, wounding two people.

One Italian police officials said the bomb was similar to the ones that exploded Thursday at the Chilean and Swiss embassies. A group with reported ties to Greek anarchists claimed responsibility for the bombings.
“In Rome, we are monitoring the situation with local law enforcement. We have alerted all US Embassy Rome personnel that if they receive anything suspicious, either at the Embassy or at their residences to inform the Regional Security Officer immediately,” Mark Toner, acting spokesman for the US State Department said on Monday.

As the State Department continues to improve security at US embassies, terrorist groups are likely to focus on “soft” targets such as homes, schools, and places of worship, according to Mike Snopes, a law enforcement and security consultant.

The Government Accounting Office was asked to determine whether the State Department has a strategy for soft target protection; assess State’s efforts to protect US officials and their families while traveling to and from work; assess State’s efforts overseas to improve security at schools attended by the children of US officials; and describe issues related to protection at their residences.

The State Department has a number of programs and activities designed to protect US officials and their families outside the embassy, including security briefings, protection at schools and residences, and surveillance detection.

However, they have not developed a comprehensive strategy that clearly identifies safety and security requirements and resources needed to protect US officials and their families abroad from terrorist threats outside the embassy. State officials raised a number of challenges related to developing and implementing such a strategy. They also indicated that they have recently initiated an effort to develop a soft targets strategy. As part of this effort, State Department officials said they will need to address and resolve a number of legal and financial issues.

Three State initiated investigations into terrorist attacks against US officials outside of embassies found that the officials lacked the necessary hands-on training to help counter the attack. The investigations recommended that State provide hands-on counterterrorism training and implement accountability measures to ensure compliance with personal security procedures. After each of these investigations, State reported to Congress that it planned to implement the recommendations, yet the GAO found that State’s hands-on training course is not required, the accountability procedures have not been effectively implemented, and key embassy officials are not trained to implement State’s counterterrorism procedures.

The State Department instituted a program in 2003 to improve security at schools for embassy employees’ children, but its scope has not yet been fully determined. In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, Congress earmarked $29.8 million for State to address security vulnerabilities against soft targets, particularly at overseas schools. The multiphase program provides basic security hardware to protect US officials and their families at schools and some off-compound employee association facilities from terrorist threats.

However, during visits by GAO investigators to posts, regional security officers were unclear about which schools could qualify for security assistance under phase three of the program. State’s program to protect US officials and their families at their residences is primarily designed to deter crime, not terrorism.

The Residential Security program includes basic security hardware and local guards, which State officials said provide effective deterrence against crime, though only limited deterrence against a terrorist attack. To minimize the risk and consequences of a residential terrorist attack, some posts that were visited limited the number of US officials living in specific apartment buildings. To provide greater protection against terrorist attacks, some posts security inspectors visited used surveillance detection teams in residential areas.

Jim Kouri, CPP, formerly Fifth Vice-President, is currently a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for Examiner.com and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri’s newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subscription” on the subject line.

About The Author Jim Kouri, CPP:
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
Website:http://jimkouri.us

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