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Terrorism report

As the barriers for individuals and groups to acquiring material and knowledge to undertake terrorist attacks continue to recede, the private sector must step up and improve its own protective security measures, says Ed Butler, head of risk analysis at Pool Re, the terrorism re-insurance underwriter. Despite the absence of successful attacks in Great Britain during the first half of 2018, the terrorism landscape remains complex, he said introducing the third edition of the Pool Re Terrorism Frequency Report.

Andrew Donaldson, Deputy Head of Risk Analysis, also writes on the threat from returned foreign fighters; and analyst Eden Stewart goes over recent incidents globally. Despite the overall reduction in the number of attacks, Daesh affiliates around the world remained active, with attacks executed by the group’s Caucasian and Afghan branches notably increasing. It is unclear if this means a deliberate effort by Daesh to offset reversals in Iraq and Syria, or simply reflects a more aggressive approach by those affiliates.

And from Canary Wharf Group, Rick Moyes, Intelligence Manager, and Jemima Mackenzie, Intelligence Analyst, describe the Docklands estate’s response to the 2017 terror attacks in the UK and the officially-inspired ‘step change’. They write that that ‘step change’ in threat over the past 18 months has required a shift in the management of terrorism risk. “The volatile nature of the Salafi Jihadist threat, the short time frame between radicalisation and attack, and the volume of investigations confronting police and security services are a significant contrast to the threat from the PIRA on mainland Britain during ‘the Troubles’. The current threat arguably places more emphasis on private security teams in terms of deterring, detecting and disrupting terrorist activity.”

They describe intelligence gathering (strategic assessments of Daesh propaganda and online recruitment, besides the more tactical – what does TATP smell like? What is the most likely chemical agent to be deployed in a terrorist attack? what of hostile reconnaissance? Do attackers take drugs before they attack?), risk assessment, training, and exercises, internally and with emergency and security services. As for what ‘lessons learned’ private security can draw on, the Kerslake report into the Manchester 2017 attack (published in March 2018) is given as a UK example; besides the New York Police Department (NYPD) study of the Westgate mall, Nairobi attack of 2013.

They conclude that the UK official 2018 CONTEST policy assesses that the threat from Islamist terrorism will remain at its current level for two years at least, and that the threat from extreme right wing terrorism is growing. Security and risk managers will likely face significant challenges beyond that point. Effective security planning, intelligence led operations, and government support will continue to be critical in successfully mitigating the threat.

For the report in full visit the Pool Re website.

Picture by Mark Rowe; anti-ram blocks outside Lord’s cricket ground, north-west London.


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