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CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response by Dan Kaszeta

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SCENARIO E

A “Communicated Threat”

BACKGROUND

The telephonic “bomb threat” is probably as old as the telephone. In written form, the communicated threat is even older. Threats can be simple or terribly complex in nature. Communicated threats can occur for many reasons. Some threats will be immature pranks. Others may be the result of actions by mentally ill persons. Some threats can be deliberate to confuse, distract, or dilute operational response assets or to create a general air of fear or disorder, possibly in preparation for an actual incident. In some instances threats are “legitimate” in that real threat materials are actually present. Sometimes, this tactic is used to provide the perpetrators with a perceived political advantage in that the terrorist(s) can claim that “fair warning” was given and that any fatalities or injuries are the responsibility of the authorities for not working fast enough to protect people. Irish Republican groups were noted for using this tactic.

Communicated threats involving CBRN materials add a layer of complexity. The scope of potential harm is higher, but so is the technical difficulty of perpetrating the attack. Evaluating such threats requires technical knowledge of the materials involved.

THE SCENARIO

A famous former head of state has died. The national capital is now heavily involved in preparations for a large state funeral in the city's main cathedral. Dozens of world leaders will attend the funeral, and thousands of citizens have descended ...

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