The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) warns the US trucking industry to be vigilant to protect themselves against the escalation of ramming attacks. Trucks are now terrorists’ number one weapon. They are readily available and, in some cases, easy to obtain. Used in France and Germany in 2016 as ramming tools, trucks are also the perfect way to transport bombs as Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED).
To address this growing concern, trucking industries must:
- Learn how to identify the warning signals
- Train their employees on how to prevent hijacking scenarios
Why Terrorists Look to Trucks
Since 9/11, air traffic has been heavily monitored for terrorist activity. So now, terrorists have come up with Plan B – trucks. The reason? Trucks are considered easy to obtain and a perfect means to attack infrastructure and groups of people worldwide via ramming attacks. There have been 17 worldwide attacks resulting in 173 people dead and more than 700 injured.
Before 9/11, there were successful VBIED attacks on American soil. These include the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In both cases, the trucks were rented from Ryder, and the terrorists then turned the trucks into weapons. The important part to note about these VBIED situations is how a trucking company played an unwilling part in the tragedy.
The best way to deal with truck attacks is to prevent them. Before tragedy can strike, the trucking industry must be proactive and learn pre-incident warning signs.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
Truck terrorism results from an outside group renting or stealing a truck or an inside job from a trucking employee. There are warning signals for each scenario.
When outside parties target a trucking company, beware of unknown people hanging around the property or looking for out-of-the-ordinary activities. Below are red flags to watch out for:
- Unusual inquiries into business practices or surveillance of trucking, or unsolicitous monitoring of business practices
- An unusual number of security system false alarms – an outside party might be testing for weaknesses
- Impersonation: a potential client is not who they say they are
- Recent theft of explosives in the area
- The truck or van is modified with heavy-duty springs to handle heavier loads or reinforced to withstand high impact
Sometimes employees have been recruited by a terrorist group or are just “lone wolves” looking to get back at society for perceived wrongs. Whatever the reason, watch for the following inside job signals:
- Substance abuse or mental health issues
- Hostile or vindictive behavior
- Unexplained or sudden wealth
- Unreported foreign travel, contacts, or relationships
- Unusual or excessive interest in the security or classified material
- Misuse of computers
Whether the threat is from an outside party or an employee, know the warning signals that a truck in your fleet might be the key component in a planned terrorist attack. The attack cannot occur without a vehicle, and in the best-case scenario, the perpetrators can be brought to justice!
In the case of hijacking, there are specific ways employees can act to prevent this type of terrorist attack from occurring.
It is imperative that trucking companies plan for possible hijacking scenarios by training personnel to follow safety protocols and prohibited behaviors when en route.
The time to act is to prevent a truck in your fleet from being used for terror. First, accept that this is a reality in our world today, then do something about it. Start by assuming that it can happen to your organization at anytime. Next, formalize a sound policy to prevent a hijacking scenario with one of the trucks in your fleet.
The best policy when it comes to terrorism is zero tolerance. This should be the underlying principle when establishing employees’ and drivers’ protocols. To prevent hijacking, make sure to establish:
- Increased use of high-quality seals and padlocks
- A “no stop” policy for drivers when possible, especially within 2-3 hours of the trip origin
- Tracking and communication protocols en route
Once the organization is well versed in an overall policy for hijacking prevention, ensure the drivers are trained to follow preventative procedures to ensure, they never lose control of the truck in their possession.
Once the truck has left the rest of the fleet behind and is en route to a destination, the driver must be trained to prevent hijacking. In most cases, it is a matter of common sense (i.e., don’t pick up hitchhikers, lock the vehicle during stops). However, there are additional considerations to note and follow to ensure an outside party never controls the vehicle.
- Keep the dispatcher informed of any route changes
- In slow-moving traffic, lock the cab and roll up the windows
- Check the load when possible to make sure that what is in the vehicle is supposed to be there
- Avoid stopping at the same places every trip
- Watch for suspicious vehicles at the pickup point or cars or vans that follow your vehicle
- When making a delivery, do not leave cargo unattended, even for a minute or two
- Carry a 24-hour emergency telephone
- Keep the vehicle, license plate, and VIN with you at all times; they will be critical if the vehicle is stolen or hijacked
Overall, make sure the organization is vigilant and unwavering regarding safety protocols. Be aware and ready if a truck in your fleet is targeted for use in the act of terrorism. Not only will it be detrimental to the livelihood of your organization, but lives depend upon it.
We Can Train Your Organization to Prevent Trucking Terrorism
Do not become an unknowing participant in trucking terrorism. SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. can help your organization prevent trucking terrorism with our Recognizing, Prevention & Response To Trucking and Terrorism training. Call us at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our training specialists today.