Our enemies are as much creatures of habit as we are. They've been using car bombs for decades. And the reason is simple: These things are devastating. A favorite of both domestic and foreign terrorists, a car bomb packs a big punch.
There are two things that experts say local officers should always remember about car bombs.
The first thing you need to remember is that a simple parking violation could be a car bomb. So be careful and check out suspicious vehicles. Some terrorists-such as the Times Square would-be bomber-are really sloppy. If you see a smoking car, it may be a problem or just a poorly maintained car. If you think you have a bomb on your hands, call in the bomb techs.
The second thing you need to remember is that the first explosion may not be the primary attack. Terrorists can be very cunning. They know that a bomb attack is going to draw a lot of attention. And to their point of view, all those responders, all those firefighters, cops, and EMTs, are a juicy target. So beware of a second bomb targeting you. This is one of their favorite strategies in Israel.
No tool in the terrorist's arsenal has been more effective than the suicide belt, vest, bra, etc. This tactic has been used by the Tamil Tigers, and it is a favorite of the Palestinians, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
We have yet to see the use of suicide bombers on American soil (unless you count 9/11 during which the hijackers essentially turned airliners into suicide bombs) but many experts believe this day is coming. Actually, they are puzzled as to why the enemy hasn't employed this tactic here.
Maybe the answer is that the terrorists don't currently have all of the elements in place to launch this kind of attack. To launch a suicide bomb campaign, they need a population of people willing to martyr themselves for the cause, some bomb makers, and some explosives. Of these three elements, the one they currently lack is the martyrs.
But they have two future sources for this raw material: They can import martyrs into the country like they did on 9/11 or they can radicalize people here. The Internet and other tools are making it very easy for the bad guys to radicalize disaffected Americans. So this source of martyrs may soon produce suicide bombers.
Officers need to be on the lookout for people who are dressed inappropriately, for example wearing heavy coats on a warm day. Suicide bombers are likely to target restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping centers, and other places where body counts will be high. Note: a favorite terrorist tactic is to combine active shooters with suicide bombers. So when answering an active shooter call keep in the back of your mind that there may be multiple gunmen and bombs. Note Two: Police and police stations are a favorite target of suicide bombers overseas.