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Page 1of 13Detecting and Defending Against Terrorism with GEOINTErin M. BonenINTL419 Applied Geospatial IntelligenceProfessor Liam O’Brien18 February 2018
Page 2of 13Section I: Introduction. Current intelligence indicated several members linked to the Al Shabaab terrorist networkare likely planning an attack against the Washington D.C. metro rail system and power stations. The most likely targets are the North Power Plant as well as the Metro Center and Smithsonian Metro stations. Two Metropolitan Police Districts, District One and District Six patrol these targets which can enables rapid responses from the individual districts; however, could affect back-up responses if needed from surrounding areas. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Infrastructure and Protection actions will be vital to preventing or recovering from the attack.Geospatial Information (GEOINT) remote sensing techniques, both imaging and non-imaging sensors, will be required to detect the terrorists’ movements and any changes to the areas surrounding the power plant and three metro stations. Since the three metro stations are located in significantly crowded areas, reporting will suffer without proper integration with otherintelligence disciplines. GEOINT is able to provide maps which detail possible routes the terrorists could use and surveillance of the most likely areas of attack; however, images lack the ability to provide intent and specified times of attack.Section II: Al Shabaab Background and Likely TargetsAl Shabaab was created through political unrest in Somalia and consists of members from the younger population looking to “establish a ‘Greater Somalia’ under fundamentalist Islamic rule (Felter et all, 2018). Additionally, Al Shabaab originally “employ[ed] strategic terrorism” tactics; however, the group lacks the funds and capability to maintain a strategic minded approach and relies on guerilla warfare (Maszka, 2018). Due to these limitations the five members planning the attack against metro stations and power plants in the Washington D.C.
Page 3of 13area will likely target areas that are the most populated and will strike during the busiest times of day.According to an informant there is at least five men involved in the planning of the attack. If the same men are employed to carry out the attack there could be as many as five individual attacks; however, an attack on a power plant would require more than one member to guarantee maximum impact while attacks conducted in the subway could be successful with onlyone member at each station. Analysis of previous Al Shabaab attacks indicate a pattern of using guns and grenades against “soft targets” to create the maximum amount of causalities with nothing more than “determination and good planning” (Downie, 2014). Although there is speculation that Al Shabaab has weakened there is not significant proof for analysts to confirm this assessment; therefore, the threat should continue to be treated as accurate (Downie, 2014).
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The Land, Attack!, Rapid transit, attack, Improvised explosive device, Washington Metro