London Attack: Our Adversaries are Patient

By: TRAPWIRE Director, Michael Maness. Mike spent two decades as a senior operations officer and field manager with the Central Intelligence Agency and was involved in counterterror operations and investigations ranging from Pan Am 103 through 9/11.

When I lived in Rome we learned that burglars would regularly test residential security systems. They’d sneak on to a property late at night and rattle an outside window, setting off the alarm. They’d repeat this day after day, week after week. Eventually homeowners, who thought their alarms were malfunctioning and were tired of getting up every night, would turn the system off. The burglars would return, shake the window and – no alarm. That’s the night they’d break in.

The London transit system clearly has an “X” on it, as have many other targets in Europe and the US. Our adversaries are patient. Like the burglars in Rome, they understand that our security and law enforcement agencies cannot protect every target all the time. London will again ramp-up its police presence on the Tube and make a show of force to try and stop future attacks and allay public fears. But that display of power cannot continue indefinitely. Eventually manpower and budget constraints will force the government to curtail these enhanced security measures, and the Tube will once again be targeted for attack.

The only way we will make significant progress in securing mass transport and other soft targets is through continuous vigilance, which can only be achieved by enlisting the support (the “eyes and ears”) of the general public. Citizens need to be taught what to look for, and how to report it. While this latest attack is still under investigation, I am confident we will learn, once again, that the perpetrators where known to officials, and someone, somewhere, had information that could have thwarted this attack.