Among others that are key players in the global human drama, the Pope himself said that we are already in the first phase of World War 3. Other ‘lesser mortals’ like myself have said that for a few years, but the topic today is the Caribbean’s vulnerability to terrorism.
Any honest person knows we are among the softest of ‘soft targets’. We depend on tourism across most of the region. But as an industry, it is very susceptible to a sudden collapse if a great act of terrorism occurred.
Some have fallen back into the ‘USA and UK will come to our rescue’ frame of thinking, not realizing that any response from either will come after the dastardly deed. The catastrophic PR damage would already have been done. Worse, once it begins, it will not end with first blood drawn.
The USA and UK are nowhere near as ‘mighty’ as they once were. They are increasingly overstretched and bogged down with wars abroad and serious security concerns in their own countries. Any thought that they will come flying like a protective fairy godmother, to wave a magic wand ‘and make all right again’, is pure fantasy.
Consider that this War on Terror’ literally has no logical conclusion to it. ‘Terror’ is not a tangible thing like ‘dandruff’—yet we have waged a ‘war on dandruff’ for decades. Have we ended it yet? No, and ‘terror’ is as intangible as ‘poverty’. We have been waging a ‘war on poverty’ for centuries! Do you see any sign that we are winning that either? Come on folks, don’t let yourselves become as the US Americans say, a ‘dumb-ass’. A war on ‘terror’ is just as unwinnable as a war on dandruff.
Terrorists will be killing us and we will be killing them, for centuries to come. The sad thing is most people alive today are so ignorant of history that they actually think ‘terrorism’ is a modern phenomenon. We have to forgive them, for they are now an illiterate horde of consumerists that do not realize that man has been the perpetrator and victim of ‘acts of terrorism’ from the beginning of recorded history to the present day.
The only thing that has changed was the way the terrorism is conducted.
Let me give you some scenarios that cannot be prevented in the Caribbean:
A terrorist enters a Caribbean country posing as a tourist. Whether they have ‘sympathizers’ in their ‘own community’ within the Caribbean society or not is irrelevant. Money talks and the criminal underworld in every country can supply you with AK-47’s, ammunition, grenades, dynamite and more as long as you have the money to pay.
This terrorist posing as a tourist does not need to take the risk of trying to bring weapons into the country with him. Why take unnecessary risks when you can just buy what you need here already? The fake tourist/terrorist does not need to bring over US$10,000 in cash either. That draws attention to you as well, because you are supposed to declare it. Money is sent to him/her in less attention grabbing amounts by Moneygram or Western Union, or he can simply use a credit card to take off the amount of cash he/she needs at an ATM every day to the maximum daily limit.
While in the country posing as a tourist for the one to two weeks that is the norm, his/her hotel stay can be paid for and confirmed before arrival. You think our immigration is going to turn away someone who has pre-paid an expensive two-week hotel stay in our country if his passport looks legit? That two weeks gives you ample time to case and photograph potential ‘best targets’ and buy the ‘tools’ you need to do what you came to do.
Another option is to have yourself smuggled into our islands (with no id whatsoever) by boat under the cover of darkness. Our coastlines are impossible to completely check 24/7. Drug shipments with weapons (and sometimes hired killers to settle scores with delinquent dealers) are already coming into our countries almost every night. Let us look at soft targets in our own island of Barbados (similar targets exist in exist island state in the Caribbean):
Pick a day & time when the airport has large crowds of North Americans or Europeans like when the transfers of cruise ship passengers occurs, or the twice daily crowd at the AA check in counter. You just need a couple observational drive bys or remote viewing with binoculars from a suitable wide open field vantage point. As you and your accomplice stop to photograph the scenery or pretend fake reading your local map while reading the airport scene behind the map instead, or a simple one stop ‘fishing for info’ conversation with an airport worker can elicit the info you want. It’s easy enough to say to an airport worker, “Wow this airport must never have crowds?”
Fairly reliable response, “No man! You got to see here on a Wednesday at lunchtime! Dem cruise ship passengers does have de airport packed!” This is of course dependent on whether a local sympathizer has not supplied you with the easily obtained info before you even arrived.
The terrorists straps on his bomb vest or his explosive-filled backpack and simply parks his hired car in the airport parking lot, then calmly strolls up to the crowd, wades into it, then detonates himself.
Utter carnage results.
This can easily be done at Miami International airport as well. I was in a huge crowd there when a non-travelling locally resident ‘middle-eastern-looking’ friend came up to me and handed me a box containing a PS device for my kids. No security was present at any time between when he parked his car and walked to the crowded, slow-moving security lines where he handed me the device. It could just have easily been a bomb and I could have slaughtered hundreds as we were packed close together like sardines in snaking lines that left no room for error. If killing as many people as I wanted to was my goal.
Pick a day when the most cruise ships dock. There is a time when the gates open to allow the snaking crowds of thousands to walk out of the port into waiting taxis or to walk all the way to the city if they want. How hard would it be for a determined terrorist, trained to use firearms, to kill the mediocre security at the gate then rush in spraying the crowd of tourists with automatic gunfire from AR-10 rifles? It’s just as easy to toss dynamite or grenades into cowering crowds of them herded into various dead-end areas inside the port.
OUR STADIUMS (and this can occur everywhere)
A terrorist does not even need to get pass the gate. One just needs to spray gunfire and detonate a few explosives at the gate. That will be enough to cause the huge crowd inside to panic and try to flee for their lives. Killing more people via a stampede, than they could with the bullets or bombs they have. In our case they would be able to easily overcome the mediocre gate security and get to butcher many inside the stadium. The frightened masses will be concentrating themselves on the opposite side of the stadium away from the side being attacked and make a better target for automatic gunfire. They are far more likely to kill more than one person with each bullet.
REGIONALLY – BOARD A CRUISE SHIP
It is harder to board a cruise ship once it is out to sea. This requires more planning and logistical thinking to get yourself on board. It is much easier to plant your operatives on the inside as employees. A well-known tactic employed by determined terrorists.
The Cruise industry is always hiring people. I was offered a job as an Assistant Purser once, the person on board who deals with passports. They cannot do perfect background checks on everyone, many can slip through the screening process and get jobs on board. We know of serial killers who prowl the Cruise industry posing as travelers, only to prey on real passengers without getting caught.
So what about this scenario? An inside man/woman or several of them, will know the inner workings of the ship over a short period including the location of the on board armory where the ship security detail keeps its stockpile, the number of people who are in the ship’s security detail, maybe even the cabins where each of them sleep.
You can make explosives from combining common everyday items that are in every kitchen (and the cruise ship kitchen has it all), this info is free online as I type. The ‘mole’ staff does not need to smuggle guns aboard – though this can be arranged as well. It just depends on how much money is ‘invested’ in this operation. A helicopter can approach the ship in the night under the radar and in less time than the security detail can collect the heavy weapons from the armory and rush to the upper decks. Terrorist commandos can rappel onto the ship and begin to take it over, slaughtering the 3-5,000 trapped guests on board who have no-where to run but jump into the sea, which will kill most of them anyway.
They don’t have to own the helicopter, just pretend to hire it and force him at gunpoint, with guns purchased from the local criminal underworld, to do as you must. Many islands have helicopter for hire services, and these are islands that cruise ships tend to dock at.
This is not as hard to orchestrate as you think.
I have just given you four simple scenarios for trained terrorists to carry out. There is nothing we can do without taking on the appearance and feel of a paranoid police state. This is the opposite of the ‘laid back cool & relaxing’ image we want to project to the tourism world we depend on so we will not do that or anything to stop any of these scenarios from becoming possible one day.
Another thing all of you fail to bear in mind is this: Nothing is for free.
I won’t say if—I will tell you when—this war on terrorism intensifies, do not think that the USA or UK (if they are able or willing to) will defend us for nothing. We will either have to surrender our sovereignty for a quasi occupation for our own protection or we will have to share our burden of defending ourselves.
Ignore for a moment that the increased presence of USA and UK troops on our soil will actually make us even more attractive targets for present day terrorists obsessed with killing Americans and Europeans, we will likely have to send our fighting age children to join their war effort, as beggars can’t be choosers. You can’t expect young Americans or Brits to die defending our asses while we go about our normal lives. Or are you that short-sighted?
Your children and mine will be drafted to ‘join the war effort’ and become cannon fodder. Ours as much as the children of the ‘less important socio-economic classes’ of Europe and America. Because unless they expressly want to, no child of the upper class will sent to the front lines anywhere. They have legal loopholes and excuses, if not the right contacts or the ability to purchase them, to ensure that their children won’t be in harm’s way like you and I and our children will be.
So while you clamor for ‘Uncle Sam and the Queen’ to come to our rescue, be aware that if it comes, it will come at a price. A price you can’t afford if you are unwilling to bury your own children.
All for your information and guidance.
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