On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

September seems to bring out the terror

The sunny weather of summer is regarded as the best time
for any covert operation. It is easier to remain undetected or escape in a

Intelligence agencies in many countries increase their
terrorism alert in May each year as the holiday season begins.

In the warped minds of terrorists, a high-profile attack
would be spectacular. In the past, sports or political events were targets but
now there is no preferred target.

In the early hours of Sept 5, 1972, a group of terrorists walked into the Munich
Olympic Village. Their target was the temporary home of the Israeli Olympic team.
Within 24 hours, 11 team members were dead.

At the Atlanta Olympic Games on July 27, 1996, the explosion of a pipe bomb in a
paper bag killed one person and injured over 100 people.

Even schools with innocent children are not spared.

Lorry drivers, merely ekeing out a living in Iraq,
have been arrested by radicals and senselessly beheaded, in the name of

Journalists have also been abducted because they are easy
targets and maximum publicity is assured.

In Russia,
Chechen terrorists stormed a Moscow
theatre and killed innocent people attending an evening of classical music.

Shopping malls, which are regarded as soft targets, have
also become a favourite of terror groups during summer because they are easily
accessible. Over the past two years, security agencies in the United
States and Europe
have stepped up their operations in these areas.

Analysts believe that terrorists chose to strike during
summer because security was lax. Many security personnel were on vacation with
their families.

While on holiday, most people let their guard down while
the large congregation of people at famous landmarks presents an easy target
for terrorists.

Raising public awareness of the possibility of attacks
during summer months have now been regarded as crucial with greater emphasis on
parallel attacks, as demonstrated on Sept
11, 2001.

As the World Trade
Center in New
York was hit, other targets such as the Pentagon in Washington
DC was also targeted. The series of attacks
would result in widespread panic.

In the United Kingdom,
the police have sent detailed leaflets to every household on how they should
react if their neighbourhood were hit by terrorists. Such awareness is aimed at
preventing Britons from becoming complacent about their safety during summer.

In the US,
various cities have announced plans to link state and local law enforcement to
the FBI to receive real-time information on terrorism threats. Like our Rakan
Cop crime prevention programme, where taxi drivers have been roped in as the
eyes and ears of the police, the US have recruited New York's doormen, janitors
and apartment maintenance workers to provide tip-offs about suspicious

The security agencies in New York
have reportedly sought the support of their employers to allow these workers to
go through a four-hour security awareness training programme.

We in Malaysia
have been lucky. We fought successfully against the Communist Party of Malaysia
because of the efficiency of our police, especially the Special Branch. We also
had a plan to win the hearts and minds of the people living near the fringes of
the jungles.

While we have dealt with Kumpulan Militan Malaysia and
Jemaah Islamiah, our only real terrorist experience was in 1975 when a Japanese
Red Army group stormed into the ninth floor of the American International
Assurance building in KL which housed the American embassy and held 55
hostages. It ended four days later after they were traded for five comrades
held in Japanese jails.

Despite the criticism against preventive laws such as the
Internal Security Act, similar legislations have now been adopted by the US
and UK. The
intelligence agencies cannot fight terrorism with kid gloves.

But until the West, especially the US,
adopts a serious approach to resolve the root causes in Palestine,
no amount of security measures can help them fight terrorism.

In the case of Russia,
it must find peaceful solutions to the war in the North Caucasus
region. Russia
took almost three centuries to conquer the Muslim-dominated North
Caucasus but, until today, still faces fierce resistance.

It is the most turbulent part of the Russian
Federation. However, Moscow
is not willing to grant independence to the territory because it is
criss-crossed by oil pipelines serving the vast new oil riches of the Caspian

September will remain a black month for terrorism in
different ways. For older Palestinians, they will remember the formation of the
Black September terror group, so named because it  was formed in that month after radicals felt
betrayed by Jordan
where they had sought refuge from the Israelis.


Sept 5, 1972:
11 Israeli Olympic team members die at the Munich Games.

Sept 4, 2000:
Car bomb outside apartment in Dagestan, Russia,
kills 64 people.

Sept 8, 2000:
Bomb in nine-storey building in Moscow
kills 94 people and injures 150 others.

Sept 13, 2000:
Bomb at apartment near Kremlin kills 118 and injures 200.

Sept 11, 2001:
Attack on the World Trade
Center in New

Sept 4, 2004:
Over 300 people, mostly children, die in Beslan,
Russia, in hostage drama.

Sept 9, 2004:
Bomb blast in Jakarta kills nine
people and injures over 100.