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Holiday season terrorism awareness

  • Published
  • By Steven Nutt
  • 75th Air Base Wing Anti-terrorism Representative

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The holiday season has always been a wondrous time of year for my family and me. Like many of you, we celebrate by traveling to share the company of loving relatives and friends, attending tree lighting ceremonies and other seasonal venues, and counting the many blessings bestowed upon us as Americans.

Unfortunately, even with all the wonderment of the holiday season, I am painfully aware terrorist groups, and those who espouse their radical ideology, remain intent on conducting attacks in order to capitalize on the cultural significance attached to this time of year.

As we prepare to travel, share time with family and friends, attend large holiday events or receive packages and presents by mail, I urge each of you to take a moment to review the below listed suspicious activities and mail indicators and keep them in mind throughout the holiday season.

If you witness any of the below listed suspicious activities at Hill Air Force Base, I urge each of you to report them through the Air Force Eagle Eyes Program by contacting the Base Defense Operations Center at 801-777-3056/58, or if in areas away from the installation through the FBI’s hotline at 800-CALLFBI (225-5324). All reports, on or off the installation, may be made 24 hours a day.

If you receive an item of mail that meets one, or more, of the indicators listed below immediately notify emergency personnel by dialing 911.

Suspicious Activities

1. Keep an eye out for surveillance. For example, anyone taking notes or monitoring activities on or off the installation, someone using cameras, to include cell phone cameras or video recorders inside or outside the perimeter of the installation, near schools, malls, sporting events, or other similar mass gathering venues.

2. Beware of elicitation. This is anyone or organization surreptitiously attempting to gain information by mail, telephone, facsimile, or in person about military operations, missions, and personnel, or attempts to gain in-depth information about security at a particular facility or public event.

3. Recognize tests of security. These are attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to bypass physical security measures or procedures.

4. Acquiring supplies. This is generally the purchasing or theft of explosives, weapons, ammunition, uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges, the equipment to manufacture them or any other controlled items.

5. Look for suspicious persons out of place. People that appear out of place around the work center, neighborhood, or anywhere else. You know better than anyone who should be in your work areas, communities, and neighborhoods and when things are out of place or suspicious.

6. Dry runs. Placing operatives in position and essentially practicing or exercising a terrorist incident as part of a dress rehearsal. This could also be someone mapping out routes or determining the timing of traffic lights and flow.

7. Deployment of assets. People and supplies being positioned to commit the terrorist act. This is the last opportunity to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs. If it doesn't look right, report it.

Suspicious Mail Indicators

Although the odds of receiving dangerous mail are extremely unlikely, those that have been identified to date have had some very common characteristics. The following are some characteristics that repeatedly show up in the appearance of mail bombs/suspicious packages:

Excessive postage.

• Return address may be fictitious or non-existent.

• The postmark may show a different location than the return address.

• Mail bombs may bear restricted endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Private." This is particularly important when the addressee does not usually receive personal mail at the office.

• Mail bombs may display distorted handwriting, or the name and address may be prepared with homemade labels or cut-and-paste lettering.

• Parcel bombs may be unprofessionally wrapped with several combinations of tape used to secure the package, and may be endorsed "Fragile - Handle With Care" or "Rush - Do Not Delay."

• Letter bombs may feel rigid, or appear uneven or lopsided.

• Package bombs may have an irregular shape, soft spots or bulges.

• Mail bombs may have protruding wires, aluminum foil, or oil stains, and may emit a Peculiar odor.

I wish each of you and yours a wonderful and safe holiday season.