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Mark Rivera

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Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Columns : Guest Editorial

Why You Aren't Being Trained to Prevent Terror Attacks

You and the public you serve become more vulnerable every day because your superiors won't let you hear the truth.

September 01, 2008  |  by Howard Linett

Contrary to popular belief, terrorism on American soil is not an historical anomaly. It is a "here and now" reality, one that will bite you on the butt, hard, someday.

I try to educate my sisters and brothers in law enforcement about the dangers they face from terrorists. I lecture, teach, and write, especially on the subject of terrorist attack tactics and techniques. I employ an intense, hardcore, "you must know your enemy to stay alive" approach.

Earlier this decade, my lectures received "outstanding" and "superior" evaluations at law enforcement conferences. But today, I cannot find an audience, even when I offer to give my presentation without charge.

Make no mistake, terrorists are still out there planning to attack you. They are Middle Easterners like Hamas, Fatah, al-Qaida, and Hezbollah. They are the South Americans and Central Americans working for drug cartel kingpins. They are members of multinational trans-border "gangs."

I am originally from Connecticut, but I now live in Jerusalem, Israel. Since 2004, I have been brought to the States to lecture or to work on terrorism training with the Department of Homeland Security. I like to "maximize" my visits by lecturing to as many law enforcement audiences as possible. I seek out opportunities to do so. I ask only for coffee and a T-shirt in return for a four- to five-hour lecture.

That's almost free training for any American law enforcement agency near my destination city that wants it. But last year I was able to arrange only a single opportunity to give my "Terrorist Attack Tactics" presentation. At that presentation, only six officers attended.

I called a friend who lectures on terrorism as a senior officer in a federal government agency to ask him what's up. He understood my frustration. Last year his free presentation was only requested twice and both times it was canceled for lack of interest.

This year's experience is even worse. I was brought Stateside to speak on behalf of DHS on homicide/suicide bombers at a federal government national conference in a major city. I contacted the training department of that city's PD and explained why I would be in town. I proposed that the training department host my lecture. After a month of calls, faxes, and e-mails I received the OK.

Then nothing, despite repeated calls to the training department. Finally late one Friday night came a telephone call accusing me of being a terrorist trying to sneak into the USA using my lecture as a cover. I told the caller he had shit for brains and hung up.

I have spoken with friends in American law enforcement—all senior educators—about their agencies' attitudes toward terrorism. What I have learned is frightening.

First, preparing for terrorism is not a training priority. Terrorism is a thing of the past. It is not relevant enough to merit finding the time for a lecture and adjusting schedules so officers can attend.

Second, and more vexing to me, is that educating officers about terrorism is now officially "politically incorrect."

For example, explaining about female homicide/suicide bombers is today deemed "demeaning to females." The suicide/homicide terrorism training material I helped DHS develop three years ago does not comport with present guidelines. And I'm not alone. Today those individuals who for decades have been leaders in educating American law enforcement about terrorism are suddenly having their terrorism lectures, materials, and even their personal credentials challenged and "reviewed."

DHS officials are more concerned about possibly offending the sensitivities of the Muslim community than they are with helping you learn how to prevent and, if necessary, respond to an attack.

Look, I'm Jewish, and I admit that I feel uncomfortable during presentations about Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel. So what! I can handle a little discomfort. Lecturing about Muslim terrorists makes American Muslims uncomfortable. So what!

Is it better for you to be ignorant of the ideology and methods of your enemy just because someone with the same faith as the enemy might be upset by that characterization? I say not. Such ignorance can get you and the people you are sworn to protect killed. 

Howard Linett is an attorney and staff sgt-major and sniper instructor in the Israeli Police Civil Guard. He has lectured at TREXPO. His Website is

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