Post 9/11 Law Enforcement Response to Terrorism

Compare and contrast the pre and post 9/11 law enforcement response to terrorism. What strategies could be implemented to increase future law enforcement capability in countering terrorism? “We’re in a new world. We’re in a world in which the possibility of terrorism, married up with technology, could make us very, very sorry that we didn’t act. ” (Rice, 2002). Law enforcement response to counter-terrorism fundamentally changed as a result of the unprecedented events of September 11th 2001 in New York and Washington (Kaldas, 2002, p61-62).

This essay will examine how law enforcement has evolved in response to the changing nature of terrorism, with an emphasis on how this has impacted Australia. An analysis of arrests and subsequent convictions of terrorist related incidents since 9/11 in Western democracies throughout the world, highlights that law enforcement agencies have demonstrated a significant capacity to respond to the threats of terrorism as they arise. It is imperative for law enforcement to embrace the notion that counter terrorism is the responsibility of all law enforcement officers (O’Hare, 2006, p1).

Unequivocally, Police perform a crucial role in counter-terrorism due to police being best placed to prevent and detect the emergence of local terrorist threats, and to respond and investigate local terrorist attacks (Clarke and Newman, 2006, p 9). It is critical that law enforcement continually work on effective strategies, strengthen capabilities, and maintain collaborative workable relationships within the communities they serve. To achieve this outcome, law enforcement needs to continually understand the changing nature of terrorism threats and to treat each and every threat as a crime.

Terrorism is a crime, (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 23) having no like or equal which requires an effective, holistic law enforcement response. The term ‘terrorism’ comes ‘from the era of the French Revolution describing state-directed policy of inflicting terror to obtain political and social control’(Hancock, N. 2002, para. 6). The definition of terrorism has evolved to describe offences by those prepared to use terror in order to obtain ‘discrete political objectives’ (Chadwick, E, 1996/97 p330).

Since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the Australian Government has introduced more than 40 new counter-terrorism laws to assist law enforcement in responding to terrorist threats. These laws have produced new criminal offences, new detention and questioning powers for law enforcement agencies, new powers for the Attorney-General to declare illegal terrorist organisations, and new initiatives to manage people’s movement and activities without criminal convictions.

These changes in legislation have become ‘game changers’ in relation to significantly increasing the capacity of law enforcement agencies to respond to threats of terrorism on Australian soil. One of the fundamental changes post 9/11 for law enforcement in Australia were the changes in legislative powers in the form of a single set of terrorism offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 55).

The legislation defines an act of terrorism. A ‘terrorist act’ is defined ‘as an act or threat, intended to advance a political, ideological or religious cause by coercing or intimidating an Australian or foreign government or the public, by causing serious harm to people or property, creating a serious risk to the health and safety to the public, or seriously disrupting trade, critical infrastructure or electronic systems. ’ (National Counter-Terrorism Plan, 2005 p2.

2). A ‘terrorist incident’ is a ‘combination of circumstances or conditions which may lead to or result from a terrorist act, and which require preventative and or responsive action. ’ (National Counter-Terrorism Plan, 2005, p2. 2). The offences outlined in the Criminal Code Act 1995 are focussed on persons who engage in, train for, prepare, plan, finance or provide support for terrorist acts. (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 55).

Alongside this legislation, states and territories have also enacted preventative detention and stop, search and seize power’s which has significantly assisted police in effectively responding to threats of terrorism. (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 57). In December 2005 ‘Control Orders’ became part of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (1995) to assist law enforcement in responding to terrorism threats (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 57).

Issued by a court, at the request of the AFP, an individual could be prohibited or restricted in movement, for the express purpose of protecting the public from a terrorist act. Such restrictions may comprise of curfews, electronic monitoring devices, restrictions of telecommunications, specified reporting to police and other measures. Jack Thomas (August 2006) and David Hicks (December 2007) are the only two individuals who have been issued control orders in Australia by law enforcement. (Jaggers, B. April 2008). para 1).

In 2010, the Australian Federal Government released its Counter-Terrorism White Paper. It stipulates that Australia’s counter-terrorism strategy has four fundamental key points: (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p iii) Analysis – focussed on prevention through intelligence, protection – focussed on border management and increased airport security, Response – cooperative relationships between Intelligence, security and Law enforcement agencies nationally and Resilience – Unified rejection of ideologies that promote violence (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p iii).

The policy outlined in the White Paper clearly demonstrates that “jihadist terrorism” is the prevailing focus of law enforcement counter terrorism efforts in Australia (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 14). It also stipulates an ‘important shift’ in terrorist threat post 9/11 in Australia is the local home-grown terrorist living within Australia (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 12). One significant factor in contrasting the differences in law enforcement response post 9/11 is that the nature of the threat of terrorism has changed and is continually changing.

As such, law enforcement has been forced to continually evolve, update and review its methodology in relation to how it responds to a terrorist threat. A recent example of this occurrence is how terrorists had planned to exploit a loophole in security by using liquid explosives on aircraft, despite the stringent security reforms post 9/11. Laws enforcement in London in September 2006 discovered the intended scheme and as a result responded by introducing new controls on liquids for air travellers (Clarke and Newman, 2006, p 20).

On October 12, 2000 the USS Cole was harboured in the Yemeni port of Aden. A small sea-craft advanced towards the destroyer and exploded. Seventeen American soldiers were killed with 39 injured as a result of the incident. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. At the time of the incident Al-Qaeda was known to be located in a geographical region in Afghanistan. This type of terrorism can be defined as international in nature.

The FBI defines international terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence committed by a group or individual, who has some connection to a foreign power or whose activities transcend national boundaries, against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. ” (Purpure, 2007). Al-Qaeda’s ideology is founded on the belief that the West, led by the United States of America, is committed to enforcing the complete exploitation and oppression of Muslims.

Al-Qaeda’s vision is the creation of a new Islamic caliphate, the removal of Western influence in Muslim countries, and it has implicitly stated that it is the religious duty of all Muslims to kill enemies of Islam throughout the world (Nafziger, G. F & Walton, M. W, 2002. p. 249). Post 9/11, Al-Qaeda has metamorphosized. No longer does it have a centralized geographic location as such. Nor does it have a network of training facilities or operational bases (Neyroud, 2007. P5-8. ). Al-Qaeda’s role has become more one of the prime motivator and inspiration to Islamist Terrorists globally.

As a result the enemy is now more difficult to detect and disrupt. This presents a very real and present challenge for law enforcement in responding to terrorist threats. Another factor front and centre to law enforcement response in Australia is that before 9/11 Australia was not a specific nominated target for “jihadist terrorism”. (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010. p 13). Today however, Australia is a designated target as stated publically by Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) (Hall, A. 2004.

p5, p16) Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) has been the leading terrorist group in South-East Asia since the late 1990s. JI has been responsible for the numerous terrorist acts including: the October 12, 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, the August 5th, 2003 JW Marriott bombing in Jakarta that killed 12 people, the September 9th, 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta that killed 10 people, the October 1st, 2005 Bali bombings that killed 26 people, including four Australians. (Chanlett-Avery, Cronin, Manyin, & Niksch.

2005, p5-13) An examination of terrorist acts post 9/11 indicates that ‘home grown terrorism is obviously of more relevant concern to local law enforcement officers as their role includes preventing home-grown terrorists being successful’ (O’Hare, 2006, p6). The escalation of home grown terrorism was no more evident following the London bombings, where ‘home-grown’ terrorists seemingly acted on their own, albeit encouraged by ideologues from the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Home grown terrorism ‘concerns citizens of a country conducting, planning or preparing attacks against their own country, government or people.

’ (O’Hare, 2006, p7) There have been numerous incidents where planning and coordination of terrorist acts within Australia have been orchestrated by local terrorists inspired by Al-Qaeda. This occurrence highlights the threat of globally-inspired but locally generated attacks in Western democracies, including Australia. In 2005, nine men in Sydney were arrested and charged with terrorism offences. All nine were convicted of terrorism offences. In 2006, Australian national Faheem Lodhi was convicted of planning terrorist attacks in Australia during 2003.

In September 2008, a Sydney man was convicted of collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts. In 2006, 13 men in Melbourne were arrested and charged with terrorism offences. Nine were convicted of being members of a terrorist organisation. Other terrorism-related cases are currently before the courts. (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 14) ‘The conviction of offenders in Australia on terrorism charges and continuing investigations unmistakably validates that there are Australians who are dedicated to supporting and engaging in violent jihad in Australia and elsewhere.

Most of the above potential terrorist threats were individuals either born in Australia or had resided in Australia since childhood. The materialization and endeavours of terrorist cells in Australia, inspired by the propaganda championed by Al-Qaeda, is likely to continue, including those individuals with little or no physical contact with Al-Qaeda members or its associates. ’ (The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, 2010, p 14). In an article titled “‘Home-grown’ Jihadists pose growing threat to Canada”, Jack Hooper, CSIS Deputy Director of Operations reiterates the threat posed by home-grown terrorist threats when he states that, ‘…

their profile is most shocking: young Canadian Muslims who have somehow become radicalized while growing up in Canada. ” (Bell, 2006). For law enforcement the strategy must be to focus resources on the detection of home-grown terrorists who operate through personal networks. One strategy that could be developed further in Australia is that of ‘community policing’ (Clarke & Newman. 2007, para. 17) in predominantly Islamic populated communities within Australian suburbs. What does this look like in reality?

It is local police assigned to specified communities, engaged with residents, communicating with locals about local issues, and identifying potentially troublesome individuals who may be sympathetic to Islamic extremism (Clarke & Newman. 2007, para. 18). Police with the necessary language skills are required to achieve this objective. A concerted effort to recruit police officers from these very communities is necessary to infiltrate the networks where extremism manifests. The selection of targets for terrorist acts has also undergone a fundamental shift following 9/11.

Military assets (such as the USS Cole terrorist act) and to a lesser extent diplomatic targets have been replaced with softer target such as popular restaurants, populated night spots, transport systems and public venues where people gather on mass so as to maximise causalities (O’Hare, 2006, p22). On July 5, 2005, two undercover police officers in Torrance, California, observed a suspicious vehicle driving past a Chevron station. Two males wearing ski masks exited the vehicle, one armed with a shotgun, stole $252 from the night clerk.

Police arrested the two men without incident, but a subsequent search of their shared apartment revealed jihadist literature and evidence of preparations to bomb synagogues in Los Angeles. (Kelling & Bratton, 2006, para. 1). This incident is only one example of many where local police have detected and disrupted potential terrorist threats. Local police officers are best placed within the very communities they have a duty to protect, to engage and foster relationships with residents, business owners and leaders in communities.

Who better than local police to recognise anomalies and irregular changes in the streets in which they patrol? Not only are local law enforcement officers perceived as those who initially respond to terrorist threats or acts, but they are also in the right place to potentially prevent terrorism. Based on mathematics alone local law enforcement officers in Australia are more likely than members of ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) to cross paths with terrorists (Kelling & Bratton, 2006, para.

2 & 7). It is vitally important for law enforcement officers to remember that all terrorist attacks are local and it is the local conditions that inform officers how to best respond in the event of an attack. (Clarke & Newman, 2007, brief 37). Additional and regular public awareness campaigns that promote a conscious perception to report any suspicious activity to police could be a strategy implemented to assist law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism.

A counter-terrorism plan needs to be developed in partnership with the local commuinity, for the local community and then disseminated to the local community. (Clarke & Newman, 2007, brief 17). The broken-windows theory, proposed by George Kelling and Dr James Q. Wilson, was premised on a simple hypothesis: focusing on minor offenses and community disorder could significantly diminish crime by creating an environment in which criminals did not feel welcome. On the other hand a community that appears lawless will produce lawlessness.

The application of broken windows theory in law enforcement response to counter-terrorism has two mechanisms: the first is establishing an unsympathetic and adverse environment for terrorists and the second is recognizing that terrorisms equivalent to shoplifting are such offences as forging documents and other relatively minor crimes terrorists commit often to assist in preparing for terrorist acts. (Wilson & Kelling, 1982, para. 12). Kelling and Bratton make an interesting assessment.

“Many terrorists, especially foreigners who are in the United State illegally, have to live a fugitive lifestyle—that is, they have to commit crimes not just to carry out an attack but simply to sustain themselves. They maintain themselves with illegal documents, committing burglary and robbery, dealing drugs, committing fraud, and so on. In other words, not all illegal immigrants or fugitives are terrorists, but many terrorists have to live underground like illegal immigrants or fugitives to get by in the U. S. ” (Kelling & Bratton, 2006, para. 23).

It is essential then for law enforcement to treat terrorists as criminals whose behaviours in the main are similar to those that conventional criminal’s exhibit. (Kelling & Bratton, 2006, para 22). When law enforcement tries to come up with effective crime-control strategies it must concentrate efforts on specific types of crime, whether it be offences such as unlawful entry, armed robbery, or drug trafficking. The same point pertains to terrorism in that consideration must take into account the many different forms that a terrorist act can take (suicide bomb, car bomb, ram bomb, letter bomb, dirty bomb, improvised explosive device etc.

) and the type of attack which you are most susceptible to. Kelling and Bratton contend that ‘counter terrorism has to be into the everyday workings of every department… this new role must be imparted to officers on the streets so that terrorism prevention becomes part of their everyday thinking. ’ (Kelling & Bratton, 2006, Conclusion). In practice this would be covering the “three bases of counter-terrorism”: (Clarke & Newman, 2007, brief 16) gathering intelligence about potential terrorist threats, safeguarding at risk targets and local vulnerabilities, and thirdly a preparedness to respond in an event of a terrorist act.

Law enforcement officers need to embrace the role and responsibilities of counter terrorism, question assumptions, reduce opportunities at a local level (poor defences makes terrorism possible), think like a terrorist (terrorist targets are not chosen randomly) and think of terrorism as a crime. Intelligence led policing and community policing in immigrant communities are measures which need to continually evolve with the evolving threat of terrorism and need to be the first line of defence against terrorism.

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