Erin Eizenstat

Significant international military operations, such as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, create ramifications far beyond their borders. Historical events indicate that conflict abroad can elevate the threat spectrum here in the U.S. by motivating terrorists to act in response. The Boston Marathon bombing is one example.On April 15, 2013, brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two homemade improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden in backpacks near the race finish line. The pressure cooker bombs detonated just seconds later, killing three people and seriously injuring hundreds of others. A high-profile manhunt continued over the following days, resulting in the death of Tamerlan and capture of Dzhokhar. During questioning, Dzhokhar revealed that the brothers were motivated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were self-radicalized and unconnected to any outside terrorist groups, learning to build explosive devices using information found online.

As MSA Security’s High Consequence Threats: A Timeline of Events highlights, lone-wolf attacks like this are not unusual. They are often tied to broader global events and many times begin with a combination of personal and political grievances. This was the case with the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, who asserted that he was motivated by the airstrike in Iraq that killed ISIL commander Abu Wahib weeks earlier. The attack in the Orlando, FL, nightclub killed 49 people and wounded many others.

Individual and independent terrorists perpetrate attacks without guidance, operational involvement or support from larger organizations. They rely on the internet, which easily affords them opportunity for radicalization and access to resources needed to plan and execute attacks. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh, motivated by his dislike for the U.S. federal government and its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993, cocktailed together deadly IEDs from agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel and other chemicals. The explosives ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring more than 500 people.

Staying Ahead of the Threat with Timely Intelligence

Whenever significant national security news breaks, it’s critical to consider the potential of retaliatory attacks close to home. It is essential for organizations of every size and scope to remain vigilant with a robust and layered security plan. Central to that plan is timely and accurate intelligence. Security professionals must advance their own threat intelligence capabilities to successfully mitigate risk to personnel, assets and infrastructure. Knowing how and when an organization may become a target is necessary to proactively avert attacks.

MSA’s Strategic Intelligence Analysis Team provides a detailed understanding of the current threat environment in near real-time. Analysts from backgrounds in military, law enforcement, journalism and academia leverage their experience to monitor and analyze ever-changing threats worldwide. Together, these subject matter experts provide a 360° picture on issues including military action, terrorism, civil unrest, severe weather events, hostile environments and more. Daily, weekly and tailored reporting communicate threats most likely to impact a specific organization, its business operations and personnel.

Hostile actions – especially during worldwide uncertainty – can occur anywhere and at any time, endangering lives and causing substantial damage to property and reputation.

Intelligence plays a vital role in supporting critical business decisions and preventing catastrophic incidents. It is always the first line of defense in a well-rounded and comprehensive security program.

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