Security threats can come from internal or external adversaries. Internal threats include disgruntled employees and/or contractors, or employees forced into cooperation by threat of extortion or violence. External sources include criminals, extremists or terrorists.
The most important objective of an adversary, next to successfully completing the mission, is not being detected. Detection usually results in a failed mission. Because the external adversaries may not need to enter your plant, there are few mitigation options for increasing the likelihood of detection prior to the attack. Furthermore, as a recent article in USA Today The Forum states, “Terrorists focus on simple means [to avoid detection]. They are going to use stuff that’s available.” We need to think like terrorists if we want to prevent an attack. “We’re looking for this big, magical attack, and the terrorists are looking for stuff that’s already in the environment.”
Some chemical companies have already decided that protecting their assets from attack by armed combatants with military caliber weapons is the responsibility of government and local authorities. Furthermore, coupled with the terrorist’s desire to be unobtrusive, such a scenario is not a high priority for prevention. Given that a chemical plant became the target, a more plausible scenario is the detonation of an SUV filled with ammonium nitrate and distillate fuel oil next to a storage tank. This only requires stuff that is already in the local environment.
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