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Counterterrorism Agencies’ Task is Becoming Increasingly Complex | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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British Metropolitan Police Service’s Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Mark Rawley. Reuters

London- A security report published Tuesday stressed the complexity of the task of counter-terrorism agencies in preventing attacks and thus intervening before they occur.

Under the theme “There is no specific type,” Canadian President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Phil Gurski discussed the differences in the personal characteristics and ways in which the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks work, and he concluded that any attempt to model or stereotype them complicates efforts to combat them.

The report is based on a study of radicalization phenomena over the past 30 years, which was conducted by Canadian intelligence services, and the recent attack on La Rambla in Barcelona.

“Whether they have long embraced extremism or not, have entered prison or not, have returned from the fighting fronts in Syria or Iraq or have not known them, they can still kill or attempt to carry out a bloody attack with a knife, a car and a truck or a firearm and a bomb they made themselves,” Gurski said on the characteristics of the extremists.

“They are often descended from poor families, but some have also grown up in middle-class loving families.”

“We thought at first that using a truck (to pass over pedestrians and kill 16 people) was the basic plan, and then we learned that the real plan was to detonate bombs containing acetone peroxide,” Gurski added.

“Then a distribution network in several cities replaced a driver who should act alone,” according to what the French Press Agency reported Tuesday.

It has also been noticed that young people, who have embraced extremism, have been well integrated in their society at various levels, and nothing in their personality or attitudes has ever suggested that they have criminal intentions.

“When the new dangerous attack occurs (note that I did not write “if it happens”), we will also note that the terrorists are different and come from completely different environments, which reinforces that there is not at all, and there will be no specific type.”

To confirm the findings of the report, British Metropolitan Police Service’s Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Mark Rawley commented in March on the 13 attacks that have been thwarted in Britain over the last four years saying, “There is a whole range from the simple to the complicated.”

“Some of them have been more sophisticated planning to attack public spaces, or police offices or the military, not that dissimilar to some of the attacks we have seen in Belgium and France and elsewhere.”

A threat of such diversity can also be posed by a person suffering from a mental illness, carrying out attacks following several other attacks that media had shed light on, is a nightmare for the counterterrorism agencies that have to prevent such terrorist operations.