TREXPO East: Hard Lessons

Anti-terror seminars spell out brutality of the enemy to conference attendees.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

A diverse lineup of seminars was available at this year's TREXPO East show and conference held Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 in Chantilly, Va.

Popular programs included both hands-on defensive tactics courses and classroom briefings. The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the Virginia Tactical Police Association supervised seminar tracks with such timely topics as improvised explosive devices, tactical use of less-lethal munitions, and high-risk building clearing techniques. Other seminar tracks offered discussions of patrol rifle tactics, counter-sniper operations, and explosive breaching policies.

Two of the more interesting classes focused on terrorist tactics and motivations and were taught by men who have served on the front lines of the international war against Islamic militants.

"Terrorist Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures" was the title of a seminar by Assistant Chief Randy Watt of the Ogden (Utah) Police Department. Watt's presentation offered a thorough overview of the enemy with the added insight he gained serving in Afghanistan. A major in the Utah Army National Guard 19th Special Forces Group, Watt was activated after 9/11 and was sent to Afghanistan two months later. In Afghanistan, Watt was ordered to command operations against the enemy in specific areas and was in direct combat with al-Qaida.

Watt's insight into the enemy's mind and his methods made for a riveting five-hour seminar. His presentation started with a historical perspective on Islamist terror organizations and a quick brief on dozens of violent terror groups worldwide. He then explained the intricacies of terrorist cells, including their architecture, how sympathizers facilitate their operations, and how active cells carrying out terrorist attacks are supported by logistics cells.

The presentation also included a discussion of how terrorist organizations like al-Qaida operate in Western countries, including the United States. Watts explained that al-Qaida training manuals include information on how to blend into Islamic immigrant communities in the U.S. And perhaps of greatest interest to the TREXPO audience, Watts discussed portions of the al-Qaida training materials that teach terrorists how to react when questioned or detained by American police and the rights afforded by U.S. law.

Howard Linnett, an American who emigrated to Israel, offered the Israeli perspective on Islamic terrorism. Linnett, who is an attorney, has served with the Israeli Police Civil Guard for 28 years, and his presentation shed light on the daily onslaught of terrorist attacks faced by Israeli civilians.

As a member of the Jerusalem Sniper Unit since 1995, Linnett has an encyclopedic knowledge of terrorist activity in the streets of the world's most sacred city.

Linnett's presentation titled "Terrorist Attack Tactics and Techniques" revealed that only the most devastating anti-Israel attacks are covered by the American press. He explained that Israelis live under the constant threat of being killed by snipers as they sit in their homes or drive to work, kidnapped by extremists on residential streets, or blown to pieces while they wait for a bus or sit in a restaurant.

Linnett's program was drawn from his forthcoming book, "Lessons Learned at Ground Zero, Jerusalem, Israel," which he has written for American audiences. He closed his seminar with the chilling warning that America's enemies would love nothing better than to inflict a similar campaign of vicious attacks on the American people. His message: It can happen here. And Americans are totally unprepared for it.

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