We often COME and go from our Houses of Worship (HOW) with very little thought about who MAY be watching our activities. If we have IMPLEMENTED basic security precautions, we are probably comfortable in our setting. However, we need to step it up a notch if we are going to detect hostile surveillance at your facility.
Terrorists often gather significant pieces of information from open sources such as Google Maps and social MEDIA postings. They collect a lot of data about their target of interest and eventually they will conduct physical surveillance. Physical surveillance allows THEM to study the location, focusing on how they will attack, how they will escape, when will the attack create the most devastation, and what is the most effective form of attack.
After collecting initial data about the HOW, the terrorists will begin to survey the location, trying to determine the best TIME and MODE of attack. Terrorists MAY look for a soft target that will bring instant publicity and Maximize Impact. A soft target can be a facility that doesn’t lock its doors or provide any type of security. Finding no resistance to their surveillance, they quickly realize there will be little or no threats to their safety, allowing THEM easy access in and out of the building. Depending on their plan of attack, they MAY send more skilled members to collect additional information by conducting surveillance inside and outside of the facility.
So, how do you know if SOMEONE is watching your facility? First, as a MEMBER it is always Important that you are aware of who is in the parking lot. Be aware of any cars with people sitting in THEM that are in close proximity to your facility. Be on guard for SOMEONE that MAY attempt to enter your facility whilst disguised as SOMEONE that is lost or looking for help.
They MAY use ruses and props, pretending to be a HOMELESS person, a delivery person, or SOMEONE needing assistance. They will be very cunning in their quest for information.
During this hostile surveillance, terrorists seek locations to position themselves in what are referred to as red zones. These zones will NORMALLY meet the following three requirements:
1) View of the target. Terrorists want to observe vulnerabilities so they need a good view. They will note the TIMES of services. They will note how MANY people are there at any given TIME, seeking the opportunity to kill the MAXIMUM NUMBER possible with as little effort as possible. They will observe who COMES and goes from the facility and will note the established patterns of behavior.
2) Cover and concealment. Terrorists need to be able to apply cover and CONCEALMENT tactics. Whilst they are viewing the intended target, they do not wish to be observed by you. Therefore, they MAY attempt to be located as far away as possible, in an inconspicuous location or in an area very close to the facility which offers CONCEALMENT allowing the surveillant to blend in with the environment.
3) Safety and Exit. Terrorists do not want to be apprehended and thus seek a safe exit which provides a quick exit, should their presence be observed.
After identifying the potential red zones, we focus on green zones. Green zones are where the good guys position to observe the bad guys in the red zones. Therefore, position your TEAM to observe these adversaries without being observed.
As you are entering and exiting from your HOW, it is Important that you are observant of suspicious activities.
Following are a few suspicious activities you MIGHT observe around your facility:
• SOMEONE taking notes or photos who stops abruptly when approached
• SOMEONE pointing at the target or casually looking around
• SOMEONE glancing away or appearing to be nervous when approached
• SOMEONE pacing off distance outside looking for stand- off distance for an Improvised explosive device
• Circling the block repeatedly in a taxi or vehicle
• Multiple sightings of the SAME people and activities
• SOMEONE stopping to tie their shoe and looking around when approached
• Car, van, or truck parked nearby with occupants taking notes or photos
• Drawings or MAPS observed in a vacant car, van, or truck
• Interest in security SYSTEMS/SOMEONE enters and asks about the security SYSTEM
• SOMEONE looking around when turning a corner or entering a facility
• SOMEONE enters the facility CLAIMING to be looking for SOMEONE, and they appear overly interested in the physical layout of the building .
The above listed activities MAY or MAY not indicate that your location is under surveillance. However, if observed, they should be noted and reported IMMEDIATELY. Try to obtain license plate NUMBERS, snap a photo, notice any identifying characteristics of the person suspected of surveillance, etc., and provide that INFORMATION to law ENFORCEMENT or your security TEAM leader.
Approaching a suspicious person could result in death or serious injury. Unless you are a law ENFORCEMENT officer or part of a security TEAM WHICH has specialized training in this area, do not approach person(s) suspected of conducting surveillance.
Another consideration as terrorist activities increase is that if law ENFORCEMENT personnel are able to observe those conducting surveillance, it could result in lives being saved by collecting and sharing intelligence INFORMATION. Otherwise, terrorists MAY Move onto the next facility, which could result in MANY casualties. Regardless, the decision to question those conducting hostile surveillance or conduct additional surveillance MUST be MADE by law ENFORCEMENT or a trained security TEAM MEMBER.
Steps that MAY reduce hostile surveillance:
- Increase Employees awareness
- Install Cameras that cover the parking lot and the IMMEDIATE areas around the facility. Having a Camera that can zoom in would be ideal, should you observe SOMEONE that doesn’t belong in your area
- Install security systems
- Keep doors locked when not in use and have an usher present when services/activities are scheduled
- Know the people in your congregation. If you observe a new person, Make an effort to get to know THEM. Be observant of backpacks, vests, or anything that could conceal a BOMB or a weapon
- LIMIT access to the parking lot when services are not scheduled
- Secure the parking lot. Have SOMEONE observing the parking lots at all TIMES
- If SOMEONE shows up with a LAME excuse for why they are in the building, MAKE a note of their appearance and try to obtain a vehicle license NUMBER.
The MORE preventive MEASURES (target hardening) we can IMPLEMENT, the safer our facilities will be, thereby protecting our people, places, and programs.
Contact us on KREENO HOLDINGS for detailed of more educational materials and advisory services or simply WhatsApp the CONTRIBUTOR on +2348050349740