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Analysis of the Threats and Consequences of Terrorist Acts in Urban Settings: Outline of a Protection System

Vladimir Z. Dvorkin*

Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of the World Economy and International Relations


This report presents selected results of the project “Terrorism in a Megapolis: An Assessment of Threats and Levels of Protection,” which was completed in late 2002 by the Center for Political Research in Russia in cooperation with the Expert Innovation Center for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations and the National Anticrime and Antiterrorist Foundation.

The modern industrial infrastructure of highly developed states, in particular in megacities, includes many thousands of radioactive, chemical, and biological facilities and therefore presents a real opportunity for terrorists to inflict catastrophic damage even without using their own weapons of mass destruction, although their desire to obtain such weapons is clear.

The tragic events in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, represented the end point in the process of realizing the threats from mass-scale terrorist acts, many dozens of which were committed in the last decade of the last century throughout the world. However, it is impossible to disagree with Senator Richard Lugar, who emphasized that regardless of how monstrous the September 11 tragedy was, the death, destruction, and panic were minimal compared with what would have resulted if weapons of mass destruction had been used.

This tragedy and the obvious threats of variations on it have added powerful impetus to efforts to strengthen cooperation in the world community in all areas related to combating international terrorism, including the military operation in Afghanistan, exchanges of intelligence information, the blocking of illegal fi-

*

Translated from the Russian by Kelly Robbins.



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Analysis of the Threats and Consequences of Terrorist Acts in Urban Settings: Outline of a Protection System Vladimir Z. Dvorkin* Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of the World Economy and International Relations This report presents selected results of the project “Terrorism in a Megapo- lis: An Assessment of Threats and Levels of Protection,” which was completed in late 2002 by the Center for Political Research in Russia in cooperation with the Expert Innovation Center for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations and the National Anticrime and Antiterrorist Foundation. The modern industrial infrastructure of highly developed states, in particular in megacities, includes many thousands of radioactive, chemical, and biological facilities and therefore presents a real opportunity for terrorists to inflict cata- strophic damage even without using their own weapons of mass destruction, although their desire to obtain such weapons is clear. The tragic events in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, represented the end point in the process of realizing the threats from mass-scale terrorist acts, many dozens of which were committed in the last de- cade of the last century throughout the world. However, it is impossible to dis- agree with Senator Richard Lugar, who emphasized that regardless of how mon- strous the September 11 tragedy was, the death, destruction, and panic were minimal compared with what would have resulted if weapons of mass destruc- tion had been used. This tragedy and the obvious threats of variations on it have added powerful impetus to efforts to strengthen cooperation in the world community in all areas related to combating international terrorism, including the military operation in Afghanistan, exchanges of intelligence information, the blocking of illegal fi- *Translated from the Russian by Kelly Robbins. 81

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82 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM nancial channels, and the strengthening of control and protection measures for radioactive, chemical, and other materials. Separate mention should be made of the sharply increased number of publi- cations on problems regarding the analysis of sources, characteristics, and poten- tial of international terrorism and ways of countering its threats. Several of these research areas are distinguished by their completely adequate scientific depth and logic; however, there is a clear lack of systemic research on the problems. At the same time, theoretical and applied systemic research on these problems would seem more than urgent for the development of practical antiterrorism approaches, inasmuch as systemic principles for the study of any types of threats primarily call for the most exhaustive possible structured knowledge of the enemy, including its goals and objectives; financial, material-technical, and professional potential; weapons; and many other characteristics. Potential terrorist targets must be cate- gorized by their degree of accessibility and the level of damage their destruction would entail. These data represent the necessary foundation for organizing anti- terrorism efforts. Bringing such research to an adequate level of completion requires the involvement of specialized organizations and a significant number of highly qualified professionals with experience working in these areas. The results presented in this report are possibly the first (if not the zero) semblance of systemic research in this field. It does not claim to be a compre- hensive presentation of all the issues listed above and is oriented primarily to- ward the problem of megacities. An analysis of open informational materials and works on the problem of combating terrorist activities in megacities under the new conditions attests to the pressing need to develop a nearly exhaustive list of methods adequate to respond to the widest possible range of threats and types of terrorist activity. In addition to traditional methods, unique means without analogues in the military sphere may be used in the commission of terrorist acts. This is due to the fact that at its current stage of development, society is experiencing rapid and poorly controlled growth in the number of emerging ideas in the development and de- tailed study of fundamentally new strike effects. These ideas could serve as the basis for the accelerated creation of a wide and diverse array of technical means based on the application of physical, chemical, and biological principles and new technologies that were traditionally used by the terrorists of the past. A terrorist act could be planned over the course of years. The means to be used, the methods for using them, and the scope of the entire operation could be limited only by the availability of financial resources (often enormous) and personnel. In addition, a certain backwardness of thinking has been observed toward the problem of counterterrorist activities in the political, operational-investiga- tional, informational-analytical, and organizational spheres, and this backward- ness gives rise to a shortage of fundamental support for timely decision making in the development of methods and means for conducting counterterrorist activi- ties in megacities. One result of this could be difficulties in efficiently reorient-

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8 TERRORISM ing existing forces and resources and focusing them to meet newly emerging threats. We see the appearance of a specific sort of loss of control over the process of developing means and methods for counterterrorist activities in the interests of ensuring security. Therefore, an orderly structure of recommenda- tions on the ways and means by which terrorist activities are conducted must be developed, as well as decisions on how to combat them within that structure. An analysis of the consequences and measures involved in fighting nuclear, chemical, and biological terrorism has long been under way, and some impres- sive results have been achieved. Significant attention is also being focused on how to counter computer and electromagnetic terrorism. The latter topic merits additional explanation. The possibility of using pow- erful electromagnetic impulses as a means of attack has become absolutely real because of the development of sources capable of creating peak output on the order of several gigawatts and the miniaturization of the elemental components of military and civilian radioelectronics, which makes these devices vulnerable to extremely low levels of electromagnetic wave energy. Danger lies in the use of electromagnetic signals against the components of computers, which are wide- ly used in systems for managing vital public services in megacities, controlling technological processes in dangerous production facilities, and so forth. Experiments have shown that components of distributed types of micropro- cessors and computers have crashed or stalled at field voltages in the ultrashort range on the order of 1 V/cm. At the same time, more complex systems (such as the PC-XT/AT and other more complex computers) were found to have prob- lems with memory and display operations at the level of E < 0.02 V/cm. Un- shielded general-use computers were most vulnerable to electromagnetic energy in the frequency range of 1–10 GHz. A real device capable of producing a super-broadband electromagnetic im- pulse was developed in the late 1990s using military ammunition containing a common explosive substance. Such ammunition could in principle create an electromagnetic impulse of 0.1–1 MHz in length with an energy value of 0.1–1 kJ and a frequency band of several gigahertz. Progress in creating similar devic- es for stationary installation and multiple use was demonstrated for the first time in the United States in 1992 as part of the Mark N project. Mobile generators mounted on heavy-duty trucks and having their own pow- er sources have also been developed. The use of such generators would make it possible to bring down an unshielded system for public utility management in a megacity or a banking system, or it could disable control systems at dangerous production facilities. Therefore, these generators could be viewed as effective tools for carrying out terrorist activities. The example of opportunities for electromagnetic terrorism attests to the expanding spectrum of violent means and methods of attack. This spectrum could also include space terrorism, which seems to be a far-off prospect. Howev- er, the growing number of orbiting satellites and the fact that third world coun-

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8 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM tries will soon create their own space devices mean that the day is coming when space terrorism will be as realistic a possibility as the hijacking of an airplane. The commission of space terrorism would involve, first, the destruction of satel- lites and other space-based devices or the creation of obstacles that would hinder their normal operation. Second, it could involve the seizure and use of space- based devices to facilitate communications among terrorists or their use for ter- rorist military operations. Carrying out space terrorism is a task requiring signif- icant financial, intellectual, and material resources; however, it would be inappropriate to fail to consider it as part of the arsenal of methods that terrorists might use in the future. The listed means of terrorist acts are directly or indirectly related in varying degrees to their impacts on elements of megacities. These elements may be conditionally divided into the following three categories: 1. Elements of megacities that represent direct targets for attack. These include high-rise apartment buildings, places where large numbers of people gather, major transportation hubs, and so forth. 2. Elements through which terrorists plan to achieve their goals. This category includes water systems, through which contaminated drinking water could be widely distributed in one or more locations; various means of transpor- tation; the postal system (mass or targeted delivery of potentially dangerous mail or freight); various computer networks; and so forth. 3. Elements of megacities that represent sources of heightened danger, the destruction or disruption of which would cause wide-scale accidents and catastrophes entailing consequences comparable to those resulting from the use of weapons of mass destruction. Objects in this third category primarily include facilities located in or near the megacity, such as various enterprises in the atomic and chemical industries, research centers that operate nuclear reactors or use dangerous radioactive materials, petroleum storage facilities, and so forth. It should be noted that terrorist acts directed at sites in the third category and using methods aimed at artificially causing wide-scale accidents could have the most dangerous consequences and therefore require more detailed study consid- eration. Despite the measures being taken to make industrial production facilities, the energy industry, and means of transportation more secure and environmentally safe, tendencies toward increasing the scope and level of danger of accidents have been observed. This is the result of the introduction and rapid implementation of new technologies; the inclusion of new substances with toxic, flammable, aggres- sive, and other harmful properties in production processes; increases in the energy requirements of production; increases in the power of individual pieces of equip- ment, the size of storage facilities, and the capacities of cargo vehicles; and in- creases in the speed of production and distribution processes.

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8 TERRORISM The potentially destructive forces inherent in production facilities and tech- nologies create the objective foundation for their focused use as means of attacks aimed at inflicting damage on the regions in which they are located. This could be accomplished by artificially creating conditions necessary for releasing and taking advantage of their destructive potential. Some examples include • the creation of zones of catastrophic flooding by destroying dams • the radioactive contamination of an area by destroying nuclear reactors • the chemical contamination of the atmosphere and water by destroying chemical plants • the setting of massive fires by burning forests or oil and gas wells • the spreading of epidemics It is clear that a megacity’s industrial facilities and high population density make it very vulnerable to dangerous forces of an industrial nature that would be unleashed upon the destruction of such facilities by terrorist groups. In this case, nonnuclear means could be used to trigger other factors with uncontrolled and wide-scale destructive effects. As a result, industrial facilities and technologies could be viewed as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with an attack on them representing a passive form of WMD warfare. In compiling a list of potentially dangerous facilities in a megacity, we used the results of an analysis of the potential consequences of their destruction.1 An example of such a list is presented in Table 1. This list, however, does not allow for the ranking of the facilities found in megacities by the level of threat they face from terrorists. This could be done using the following characteristics: Accessibility of facilities to terrorist attacks: 1. no limitations on access—no services for maintaining overall order at facility 2. no limitations on access—facility has services for maintaining overall order 3. limited access to facility 4. facility under armed guard Technical means required for carrying out terrorist attack: 1. common military weapons or up to 1 kg of explosives 2. more than 1 kg of explosives 3. vehicles, heavy weapons, or a substantial quantity of explosives 4. dangerous radioactive, chemical, or biological substances 5. special equipment or unique weapons not in the arsenals of troops of the ministries of internal affairs or defense

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8 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM TABLE 1 Example of a List of Potentially Dangerous Facilities Possible Impact Type of Facility or Type of Basic Types of Exclusion Zones, km2 Industry Production (Technology) Damage Factors Electric Power Located inside city limits or proximal to megacity: • nuclear reactors at Explosions, fires, Up to several hundred km2 atomic power plants radioactive contamination • storage facilities for Explosions, fires, From tens to several hundred km2 spent nuclear fuel radioactive contamination • dams at hydroelectric Flood surge From tens to several hundred km2 plant reservoirs Atomic Power Processing of spent nuclear fuel: • radiochemical plants Explosions, Up to several thousand km2 • spent fuel storage radioactive facilities contamination Fuel Extraction and processing of oil and gas: • oil and gas refineries, Explosions, massive From tens to several hundred km2 including units fires, chemical producing ammonia pollution of and other powerful atmosphere poisons Pulp and Bisulfate production of pulp Explosions, massive From tens to several hundred km2 Paper using powerful poisonous fires, chemical substances pollution of atmosphere Up to several km2 Food Refrigerated processing and Explosions, massive storage facilities fires, chemical pollution of atmosphere Up to several km2 Public Utilities Water treatment plants and Explosions, massive purification facilities fires, chemical pollution of atmosphere Up to several km2 Agriculture Storage facilities for Explosions, massive anhydrous ammonia and fires, chemical ammonia water for use as pollution of soil fertilizers and atmosphere defoliators for cotton and other crops, central stockpiles of chemical pesticides and herbicides

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8 TERRORISM TABLE 1 (Continued) Possible Impact Type of Facility or Type of Basic Types of Exclusion Zones, km2 Industry Production (Technology) Damage Factors Microbiological Scientific research centers and test facilities: Up to several km2 • production of biological Pollution of agents and mixtures atmosphere and local biospheres • production of biological livestock feed additives harmful to humans Up to several km2 Transportation Railroad tank and freight Explosions, fires, cars, tanker trucks, marine radioactive or tankers, and cargo freighters chemical contamination of the environment Chemical General chemistry: Explosions, fires, From tens to several hundred km2 • production of powerful chemical poisonous substances contamination of the (chlorine, ammonia, atmosphere and water phosgene, hydrocyanic acid, organophosphorus compounds, anhydrous sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, inorganic acids, etc. • nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers • chemical herbicides and pesticides • chemical fibers and threads • synthetic dyes, resins, and plastics Level of expertise required for carrying out terrorist attack: 1. skills in handling firearms or minimal knowledge of explosives 2. experience in working with explosives, expertise in evaluating the direc- tion and destructive potential of explosions 3. knowledge of specific details regarding the operation of the target facili- ty, high level of skill and expertise in handling specialized equipment or danger- ous special substances

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88 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM Frequency of occurrence of conditions under which terrorist act would cause maximum damage: 1. constant 2. daily during peak hours 3. several times per month 4. several times per year 5. unique conditions that might be repeated only once every few years Consequences of terrorist act at facility: 1. several dozen victims, localized damage, insignificant economic damage (on megacity scale) 2. about 100 victims, several square kilometers suffering destruction or con- tamination, normal life of the city paralyzed for several days, substantial eco- nomic damage 3. several hundred victims, tens of square kilometers suffering destruction or contamination, city infrastructure disrupted and requiring several weeks or federal government funds and resources to restore, economic damage compara- ble to the annual city budget 4. several thousand victims, several hundred square kilometers suffering destruction or contamination, consequences beyond the megacity, event of na- tionwide scope A categorized list of a megacity’s critical (most vulnerable) potential terror- ist targets, including transportation networks, places where large numbers of people congregate (stadiums, shopping malls), chemical enterprises, research reactors, water supply sources, electric power plants, and so forth, ranked in terms of the above-listed criteria, would include more than 50 groups of facili- ties.1 Rankings of points in megacities vulnerable to terrorist attack are captured in Table 2. This list is one of the fundamental components in the development and implementation of the comprehensive targeted program “Megacity—Capital” (TsKP MS). The goals of the program are to create, introduce, and develop an integrated system for combating terrorism. Its objectives are to coordinate the efforts of the various ministries, departments, organizations, and institutions re- gardless of level of jurisdiction or form of property ownership with the aim of achieving the stated goals. The Megacity—Capital Program must be an integrated set of subprograms linked through resources, implementers, and timetables. The subprograms in- clude taking inventory, systematizing, classifying, identifying, and evaluating the characteristics and vulnerability levels of all of the megacity’s high-risk industrial facilities and natural sites both as potential terrorist targets and as

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8 TERRORISM TABLE 2 Example of a Categorized List of Critical (Most Vulnerable in Terms of Terrorist Threat) Points in a Megacity needed for maximum damage Technical means required Consequences of terrorist Frequency of conditions Accessibility of facility facilities in megacity required for attack Typical number of Level of expertise for attack attack Name of Megacity Facility Atomic power industry facilities in or close to megacity: • nuclear power plant 1 4 2–4 3 1 2–4 • spent nuclear fuel storage 1–2 4 2–4 3 1 2–4 facilities Industrial facilities: • chemical plants and about 40 4 2 or 3 3 1 2–4 enterprises using radioactive materials • oil and gas refineries, 2–3 4 1–3 1 or 2 1 2–4 including units producing ammonia and other powerful poisons • petroleum depots 2–4 4 1 or 2 1 or 2 1 1–3 • water treatment stations 4–6 3 1 or 2 1 or 2 1 1–3 with stockpiles of 330–350 tons of chlorine at each • ammonia storage about 10 3 1 or 2 1 or 2 1 1–3 facilities at refrigeration plants (10–120 tons) or wholesale produce enterprises (2–170 tons) • liquid rocket fuel plants 1–2 4 1 or 2 3 1 1–3 (hydrazine, asymmetric dimethylhydrazine, dinitrogen tetrocide, etc.) • explosives plants 3–6 3 1 or 2 1–3 1 1–3 • pulping plants using 2–4 3 1 or 2 1–3 1 2 or 3 bisulfates and other powerful poisonous substances continued

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0 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM TABLE 2 (Continued) needed for maximum damage Technical means required Consequences of terrorist Frequency of conditions Accessibility of facility facilities in megacity required for attack Typical number of Level of expertise for attack attack Name of Megacity Facility • coking plants and 1–2 3 1 or 2 1–3 1 2 or 3 facilities producing anhydrous sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, and other powerful poisonous substances • storage facilities for 3–5 3 1 or 2 1–3 1 2 or 3 anhydrous ammonia and ammonia water for use as soil and fertilizer and defoliator for cotton and other crops, central stockpiles of chemical pesticides and herbicides • plants producing biological 2–4 3 1 or 2 1–3 1 1–3 agents, mixtures, and livestock feed additives harmful to humans • synthetic rubber factories 1–3 3 1–3 1–3 1 1–3 • chemical plants using about 10 3 1–3 1–3 1 1–3 synthetic organics (phenol, aniline, benzene) Megacity water supply system: • water mains and wells about 2 1 or 4 1 or 3 1 1 or 2 supplying the city with 10,000 drinking water km • water treatment facilities 20–30 3 1 or 4 1 or 3 1 1 or 2 • boiler plants about 3 1 or 2 1 1 1 100 • sewer system 5000– 1 1 or 2 1 1 1 6000 km • storm drain network about 1 1 or 2 1 1 1 6000 km • water intake points 10–15 3 1 or 4 1 or 3 1 1 or 2

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1 TERRORISM TABLE 2 (Continued) needed for maximum damage Technical means required Consequences of terrorist Frequency of conditions Accessibility of facility facilities in megacity required for attack Typical number of Level of expertise for attack attack Name of Megacity Facility City energy supply system: • gas pipelines and about 2 1 1 1 1 or 2 propane tank filling 100 stations • power plants supplying 20–25 4 2 or 4 1 or 2 1 1–3 the city with electricity • electric power lines several 1 1 1 1 1 thousand km • substations about 1 1 1 1 1 150 Places where large numbers of people gather: • stadiums about 50 2 1–3 1–3 3 1 or 2 • movie theaters and about 90 concert halls possible sources of industrial accidents, catastrophes, and natural disasters. Oth- er subprograms involve the development of a unified conceptual and terminolog- ical framework and a set of laws, regulations, and reference documents, as well as the implementation of a series of special research, design, industrial, socio- economic, organizational, and other measures to ensure the effective handling of security problems related to combating high-tech terrorism. Integrating all exist- ing security and public service systems will make it possible to create a system- atic basis for protecting the population, facilities, and territories from various types of external and internal threats. The difficulty in developing and implementing the comprehensive program for countering terrorism in megacities can, on the one hand, be overcome by organizing the system into threat classes, for example, radiation, chemical, ra- diological. However, in doing so, it would be even more difficult to categorize and identify the top priority targets for protection given the limits on available

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2 RUSSIAN VIEWS ON COUNTERING TERRORISM resources. On the other hand, it would be expedient to develop and test proce- dures for implementing such a program in a typical district of a megacity, one that includes examples of the types of facilities that would be potential terrorist targets. More detailed materials on the problems mentioned above may be found in the previously cited publication of the Center for Political Research in Russia, which its authors believe to be the first systematic attempt at a comprehensive analysis of the problems of combating terrorism in megacities. The publication also provides a basis for the initiation of a more in-depth systematic analysis of these problems and the development of a set of practical recommendations and organizational and technical measures for effectively meeting these new security challenges. NOTE 1. Terrorism in a megapolis: assessment of threats and levels of protection. 2002. Moscow: Human Rights Publishers.