Terrorism and The Built Environment
I am Currently Writing a paper on Terrorism and the built environment, any feedback regarding my 'Top Ten targets for terrorist's' (shown below) would be very much appreciated.
No. 1. Oil Structures
Oil occupies the top position and is therefore the highest �risk� in terms of its status as target - red colour code � level.
Although oil�s significance to the western consumerist economy makes it a fairly substantial and maybe obvious target it is not the reason why it holds the top position in the �top ten target� analysis. What ensures its position is its accessibility, and lack of security. With vast stretches of pipelines, dedicated transit, and production structures stretching across continents, security issues are overwhelming.
According to Elrom (2007) the �common belief that very sensitive sites, such as refineries, processing facilities, offshore rigs, pipelines and tankers are well protected, is in many cases false�. For the oil industry and its relative sub-industries the numerous vulnerabilities make it a �soft� target. The lack of security and oil�s intrinsic role in the global economy mean that it is a target that could cause considerable damage and long lasting repercussions to the western world�s economy, infrastructure and individuals countries relationships around the world.
No.2. Commercial/Shipping Ports:-
Occupying second position in the �Top Ten� hierarchy of risk is commercial and shipping ports.
As built structures, ports represent the convergence of countries� wealth and economy and are therefore symbolic targets that could effectively halt the distribution of key goods.
As Integral parts of a countries nervous system commercial/shipping ports like oil are classified as �soft� targets. Ports have so many access points, thousands of lorries, cars and ships pass through them everyday making it almost impossible to monitor everything entering or leaving. The nature of the cargo which passes through a port also increases the risk associated with it, high grade chemicals and highly explosive materials make it a catalyst for terrorist activity.
No�s. 3,4,5 Transport:-
Airports (3rd), Rail Networks (4th) and Underground Networks (5th):-
Occupying 3rd, 4th and 5th position in the hierarchy of risk is the broad category of transport.
Air transport is first in the three categories occupying 3rd position. In many ways, its position can not be separated from our collective memory of 9/11, but equally the disruption to air travel systems across the world indicated that the target accomplished the collateral aims of the terrorist.
According to Utley (2004) today the risk to air travel comes from shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, a regimented attack bringing down �several civilian airliners� at once �would devastate flying and severely damage the US economy�.
Rail and underground networks do not present such a high profile target as airports, making them less vulnerable on an international scale. However, they present just as high a risk on a smaller national scale manly due to issues of accessibility. Anyone can enter the underground or go through a tunnel in a car, at present there are no monitoring processes or security systems in place. Current surveillance networks do little in protection form a suicide or remotely detonated bomb.
It is currently impossible for every section of rail line to be monitored, as the technologies to check every person getting on and off at each stop have not been developed. This sort of attack could cause endless disruptions to a country�s travel and economy, huge casualty numbers, not to mention the public chaos, which would be caused if intense levels of fear caused the public to avoid rail travel.
No�s. 6 &7 Entertainment:-
Hotels/Nightclubs/Bars (6th) and Stadiums (7th):-
Positions 6 and 7 are held by buildings and structures, which are at the heart of leisure consumption. Until recently these were only considered targets abroad � in particular nightclubs and bars � however more recently the vulnerability and level of risk associated with them within western society has grown considerably.
Security at these venues is generally minimal. An attack would inevitably have a knock on affect, producing a state of fear and anxiety amongst wealthy western holidaymakers. This would have a direct effect on the tourism, travel and service economy upon which many western nations now depend.
The assured high levels of leisure consumption are also found closer to home in the structures of sports stadiums. The risk level associated with stadiums is high due to the numerous entrance points, coupled with the high audience figures, which make it difficult to check and monitor every individual.
In the western world we are unaccustomed to the presence of advanced security systems in our spaces of leisure � which we associate with freedom and recreation. Ervin (06) states � people simply won't tolerate the draconian countermeasures that Israelis accept without complaint�. Making an attack on these �soft� entertainment venues ever more eminent
A further aspect to the risk position of stadiums relates to the relationship between sports and the media. Television coverage of sports events is global as is the participation and competition. An attack at one of these events would not only affect the host country but countries all over the world.
Both hotels/nightclubs/bars and stadiums are considered as �soft� targets and so far in western society have not been the choice for terrorists. Due to this fact an attack is likely to be ever more disastrous, causing high psychological effects even if the casualty rate is relatively low.
No�s 8 & 9 Economy:-
Corporate buildings (8th) and Embassy�s (9th):-
Positions 8 and 9 are occupied, which may at first appear as rather broad categories, but due to their symbolic representation these buildings have since 9/11 come to be universally recognised as targets.
Today office buildings and corporate headquarters continue to strive to be read as a symbol, an icon for a city or a nation �an enigmatic signifier� (Jencks, 05). Due to this fact, the risk associated with them is still at a very high level, as an attack on a national or political symbol achieves the kind of media hysteria and public fear capable of disrupting economies and the status quo.
However, these types of buildings are almost constantly on �high risk�- or code red- making an attack on them ever more difficult. (Jon Basil Utley, 2004)
No. 10 Religion/Nationalism:-
Religious buildings (10th):-
The lowest level in the risk hierarchy is occupied by religious buildings and although there have been many attacks on religious buildings throughout the world it is difficult for terrorists to gain international media attention from their attack, due to the fact that religion differs between regions and races, making it specific to particular locations and societies. Additionally, the increasing secularism of the western world leaves these buildings less resonant with meaning/
The level of vulnerability for a religious building is low due mainly to the fact that they are less populated than other targets, and are not as likely to have such a great affect on a countries economy or infrastructure. They are however considered �soft� targets with little or no security present, there is a possibility that a synchronised attack to create panic and a sense of fear towards worship.
Terrorism and The Built Environment
Shaun, you left skyscrapers off your list.
Skyscapers are extremely vunerable to terrorist attack and therefore extremely high on the target list as a nice big juicy soft target.
The reason for this is that the only enetrance and exit into a skyscraper is at or about ground level, so mass exit of people from a skyscraper in an emergency cause an immediate bottleneck.
Furthermore, in the case of the New York Twin Towers on 9/11. The unholy mixture of steel skyscraper structure, aluminium airplane and high octane aviation fuel literally vaporised these skyscrapers. :(