Terrorist Suicide Bombings : Attack Interdiction, Mitigation, and Response book cover
1st Edition

Terrorist Suicide Bombings
Attack Interdiction, Mitigation, and Response

ISBN 9781439871317
Published October 10, 2011 by CRC Press
342 Pages - 37 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Urban environments are prime targets for suicide bombings over the next decade. While the threat may be ever-present, measures are available that can empower law enforcement personnel to thwart attacks, or at least mitigate the effects by reducing casualties. Written by professionals with first-hand experience, Terrorist Suicide Bombings: Attack Interdiction, Mitigation, and Response helps first responders, law enforcement, and homeland security professionals grapple with this increasing threat, offering best practices in the field and lessons learned.

Advance preparation

The authors provide specific instructions on how to fortify possible suicide bombing targets, suggesting measures that—if implemented—will reduce casualties. They explain how suicide bombers operate and what weapons they are likely to employ. They also debunk common myths about suicide bombers that jeopardize successful interdiction.

Actual case studies

Including graphic photos depicting the aftermath of actual bombing scenes, the book projects the reader into the chaos of a bomb scene. Chapters describe what one encounters at a site immediately after a bombing and explain what each first responder should and should not do. Case studies throughout enhance the text, explaining why certain suicide bombings succeed while others fail.

Psychological effects

The book also explores how terrorists seek to exploit the media and describes government and media efforts to diffuse the bombers’ self-promotion. A full chapter is devoted to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that commonly affects many first responders. Finally, the book closes with recommendations aimed at helping law enforcement defend against suicide bombers.

Table of Contents

Section I: The Suicide Bomber in a Western Urban Environment

Introduction: The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing

Suicide Bombing: Captivating the Public

Why a Manual?

Why a Suicide Bombing Is so Terrifying

The Randomness of the Bombing

Tactical and Strategic Goals

Is Suicide Bombing a Sin?

Goals of This Manual

Myths Regarding Suicide Bombers

Adjust Lessons Learned to Local Conditions

Focus on Israel and America

Scope of the Manual

The Act: How Does a Suicide Bomber Operate?

A Suicide Bombing in Progress

Three-Hundred Yards Away

Heading for the Crowd

The Critical Moment

Arriving at the Center of the Bus

Pressing the Switch

There’s Been a Bomb

Identifying the Suicide Bomber

The Past: A Brief History of Suicide Bombing

First Modern Suicide Bombing

The Bombing of the Marine Barracks

A Core Islamist Terror Tactic

Growing Palestinian Militancy

The PLO and Hamas

The Intifada

Hamas Turns to Systematic Terror

Section II A Suicide Bomber’s Motives

Motives I: Why Someone Becomes a Suicide Bomber

On Detecting a Suicide Bomber’s Motives

A Political Motive I: The Sponsors

A Political Motive II: Fighting for Dignity

A "Personal" Motive: I Am Ugly and Scorned

A Religious Motive: Devoted to the Koran

Motives II: Why Do Women Become Suicide Bombers? Leaving the Women at Home

Changing the Rules of the Game

The Advantages of a Female Suicide Bomber

Who Is the Typical Female Suicide Bomber?

What Motivates a Female Suicide Bomber?

Male versus Female Suicide Bombers

The Story of Ayet Al-Akhras: Shame on the Arab Armies

The Story of Reem Riyashi: Mommy, What Are You Carrying in Your Arms?

The Story of Hanadi Jaradat: A Motive of Revenge

Section III Evaluating Suicide Bombing

9/11 I: The Worst Suicide Bombing Ever

Terror in America Unimaginable

Chain of Events

The President’s Initial Responses

The Towers Collapse

The Perpetrators: Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda

Attacked by a Faceless Coward

9/11 II: More than We Can Bear

Finding the 9/11 Perpetrators

The Mastermind

Mohamed Atta: Ringleader

Plusses and Minuses: Advantages and Constraints for Suicide Bombers

Suicide Bombing as a Tactic

Constraints of a Suicide Bomber

Key Decisions for Suicide Bombing Organizers

Advantages of Suicide Bombing

No Worry about Being Gunned Down

Hard to Subdue near Target

Switching Targets at Last Minute

Choice of Targets

Ease of Blending into Crowds

Cheap and Easy to Carry Out

Attracting the Media

Effectiveness: What Makes a Suicide Bombing Successful?

An Ineffective Suicide Bombing

Why Are Suicide Bombers so Successful?

The Choice of Targets

Civilians versus Soldiers

High-Level versus Low-Level Targets

Disrupting the Routine

Trying for a Political Impact

Striking a Target a Second Time

Back-To-Back Suicide Bombings

Attacking on Certain Days

Grisly Scenes Help Make Suicide Bombings Effective

Timing of Police Response Determines Effectiveness

Weaponry: The Armaments of Suicide Bombers

The Suicide Bomber Is the Bomb

We Do Not Show How to Build a Suicide Bomb

A Brief History of Explosives

What Goes into a Suicide Bomb?

Firing System

Main Explosive Charge


Electrical System


"Poor Man’s Alternative"

The Ease of Acquiring Explosives

Explosives the Suicide Bomb Maker Tries to Access

Assembling the Bomb

Section IV Defending against Suicide Bombings

Responses to 9/11: Federal Government

Who Is the Enemy?

Planning: A Military Strike

A New Approach to Terror

Costly New Priorities

The Day After: September 12, 2001

Augmenting Intelligence

Visit to Ground Zero

Revamping Home Security

Massive New Powers

An Anthrax Scare

Changing Security Doctrines


A Defect in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

The Road to Guantanamo

Responses to 9/11: The New York City Police Department

A New Proactive Police Commissioner

Reorienting Manpower and Resources

The New Counter Terrorism Division

The NYPD Goes Overseas

New Programs to Fight Terror

Detection: What Makes a Suicide Bomber Seem Suspicious?

Situation #1: The Suspicious Person

What Are Your Options?

Situation #2: The Suspicious Automobile

What Are Your Options?

Situation #3: A Coworker Exhibits Suspicious Behavior

What Are Your Options?

Situation #4: Protecting Public Facilities

What Are Your Options?

Reducing Casualties: Private Security Guards and Hardening Buildings

Can Casualties Be Reduced?

Private Security

Hardening Public and Private Places

How Should One Harden a Facility?

The Lesson of Istanbul

Suicide Bombings: Law Enforcement Successes and Failures

Law Enforcement Successes

Assam Hammoud and the Plot to Blow Up the PATH

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: The "Underwear Bomber"

Najibullah Zazi and the New York Subway Plot

Moscow: Attack on the Russian Metro

London: The First Suicide Bombing in Western Europe

Israel: The Military Weapon

Public Alertness

Targeted Assassinations

Operation Defensive Shield

The Security Fence

Section V Key Players

First Responders I: Police Officers and Bomb Techs

Police Officers

Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services

Bomb Squad Technicians

Catching A Suicide Bomber Live

When a Suicide Bomb Explodes

Checking for the "Signature"

First Responders II: Intelligence, Forensics, and Investigative Officers

Intelligence Officers

Intelligence Gathering at Local American Police Departments

Forensics Officers

Investigative Officers

Media: Creating Perceptions of Suicide Bombings

Two Audiences for Suicide Bombing

Terrorists, Media, and Government

Capturing the Headlines

Fighting a Propaganda War

The Public Relations Officer

Defeating the Enemy: Getting Back to Normal

Speed in Getting Out the News Is Critical

Testing a Spokesman’s Credibility

Releasing Graphic Scenes to the Media

Mental Health: When Too Much Is Too Much

The Symptoms

The Traumatic Event

Giving the Disorder a Name

The First Responders Became Victims

Gil Kleiman’s Story

Mordecai Dzikansky’s Story

Battling the Suicide Bomber: Our Recommendations

Lesson 1: Learn How to Reduce the Impact of Suicide Bombings

Lesson 2: Do Not Feel Helpless

Lesson 3: Create a Playbook of Lessons Learned

Lesson 4: Security Measures Matter

Lesson 5: Be Aware of Suspicious Objects and People

Lesson 6: Hire Professional Security Guards

Lesson 7: Provide Vigilant Guards at Public Transport

Lesson 8: "Harden" or Fortify Public Places

Lesson 9: Make Suicide Bombings a Law Enforcement Priority



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Mordecai Z. Dzikansky spent his 25-year police career (1983-2008) with the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Appointed to the NYPD, in 1983 he served as a uniformed patrolman for two years in Brooklyn North. In 1985 he began his career in investigations, ultimately rising to the NYPD's highest detective rank. Through 2002, he served in various units including the Organized Crime Control Bureau, Midtown North Detective Squad and the elite Manhattan South Homicide Squad. In addition, Dzikansky was selected to work on terror related investigations, including the murders of Israeli Knesset member Meir Kahane (1990) and Ari Halberstam (Brooklyn Bridge murder, 1994). Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly appointed Dzikansky as the first NYPD Intelligence Division Overseas Liaison to the Israel National Police (INP) to provide on-site intelligence analysis of suicide bombings in Israel and elsewhere. From 2003 to 2006, Dzikansky responded in person and analyzed 21 suicide bombing sites, in Israel and attacks globally: in Russia, Egypt, Spain and Turkey. Dzikansky also worked with senior members of the Israeli intelligence community on joint investigations related to New York City and the State of Israel. Dzikansky retired from the NYPD in 2008. He has written numerous articles and is the author of Terrorist Cop: The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Stop Terrorists (2010). He is an Associate of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Herzliya, Israel and has appeared as a featured speaker at its annual international conferences on global terrorism.

Gil Kleiman spent 23 years (1983-2006) with Israel’s national police force as a bomb squad technician, attorney, security-training officer, homicide detective, and police spokesman. In 1980, he received his undergraduate degree in history from George Washington University and a law degree from Bar Ilan University in Israel in 1991. From 1983 to 1987, Kleiman was a Tel Aviv-based bomb disposal technician and an instructor in the Israel Police Bomb Squad training school. He also worked in the Security Division of the Israel Police (1997-2001), advising officials at Government installations on security preparations, including target hardening. As an Israel Police spokesman for the foreign press (2001 to 2006) he spent hundreds of hours at terror attacks sites—including 48 suicide bombings, all in Israel—quickly becoming the country’s face and voice to the rest of the world, as Israel’s suicide bomb spokesperson. Since retiring in 2006, he has provided background explanations, information and professional technical briefings to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, universities, and think tanks around the world. 

Dzikansky and Kleiman are available to conduct briefings in the United States on various terror-related topics.

Robert Slater, who worked on the research and writing of this book, is the author of 31 books and has written about such major business personalities as George Soros, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates. His books have appeared on The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists. Working for United Press International and Time Magazine in Israel from 1973 until 1996, he covered numerous suicide bombings.


" ... an invaluable and authoritative guide for understanding the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and how to defeat it."
—Joshua Sinai in The Washington Times, January 6, 2012