On Crime & Security
The business community, both big and small, is targeted by criminals and terrorists.
The business community is a target due to the billions of dollars transacted and the open interaction with the public. From pick pocketing to check fraud and from robbery to terrorism, business people and their customers are especially at risk.
But law enforcement and security professionals tell me that many of these crimes are preventable. You can prevent most crimes by taking simple security precautions and by becoming knowledgeable about the threats to your business and area.
The greatest threat today is still terrorism. Osama bin Laden publicly stated that he wanted to attack the economic power of the United States and the West. He hoped that the horrific attack on the World Trade Center would disrupt business, and it did initially, but we then saw the market jump right back.
As FBI director Robert S. Mueller, III noted in his speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on September 28th, the terrorist threats have changed since 9/11, but they have not diminished.
Mueller said we now face a three-tiered threat from al Qaeda. At the top is the traditional al Qaeda organization. As a result of al Qaeda finding new sanctuaries in the underground spaces, tribal areas and frontier provinces of Pakistan, they are regenerating their capability to attack us.
"From al Qaeda's perspective, the destruction of their camps in Afghanistan, the freezing of their finances and the elimination of many of their top leaders were setbacks, but not death blows," Mueller told the council.
The middle layer consists of small groups with some ties to terrorist groups. These "al Qaeda franchises" are a hybrid of homegrown radicals and more sophisticated plotters, such as the groups recently arrested in Denmark and Germany.
The third layer of the threat comes from self-radicalized, homegrown extremists. They have no formal affiliation with al Qaeda, Mueller explained, but they are inspired by its message of violence via the Internet.
"We are seeking terrorist leaders in foreign bases and lone actors in suburban basements, and also small but sophisticated groups who want to carry out terrorist attacks," Mueller said.
And you can help. Remember that it was a conscientious retail clerk who tipped the FBI to a plot to attack Fort Dix and an alert customs officer thwarted a plot to bomb Los Angeles Airport. She confronted an overly anxious man and he ran, was caught, and they found bomb material in his rental car.
Also, the biggest planned terrorist attack since 9/11 -- the attempted bombing of nine U.S. bound commercial aircraft - was thwarted when a British citizen tipped authorities to a suspicious acquaintance.
As small business people, you can help fight terrorism by becoming more observant and reporting suspicious persons and activities to the FBI and the local police.
The fear of crime and terrorism has kept many would-be-customers at home. But most crimes and acts of terrorism can be prevented with security awareness and alertness.