Protecting Surface Transportation Systems and Patrons from Terrorist Activities

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Protecting Surface Transportation Systems and Patrons from Terrorist Activities


Contemporary terrorists have made public transportation a new theater of operations. Algerian extremists set off bombs on the subways of Paris in 1995 and 1996; the Irish Republican Army has waged a long running terrorist campaign against Britain’s passenger trains and London’s subways; Palestinian terrorists have carried out suicide bombings on Israel’s buses; and an individualor a group calling itself “Sons of the Gestapo” derailed a passenger train in Arizona in 1995. Islamic extremists planned to set off car bombs in New York’s tunnels and bridges in 1993 and in 1997 they plotted suicide bombings in New York subways. The nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways by members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect in 1995 raised the specter that terrorists in the future might resort to weapons of mass destruction to which public transportation is uniquely vulnerable.

In order to effectively meet the threat posed by terrorism and other forms of violent crime, it is essential that transportation system operators have a thorough understanding of the security measures employed elsewhere, especially by those transportation entities that have suffered terrorist attacks or that confront high threat levels.

This volume reports on the first phase of a continuing research effort carried out by the Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies (IISTPS) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It comprises a chronology of attacks on surface transportation systems; four case studies of transportation security measures (in Paris, Atlanta, and New York, and at Amtrak); security surveys of nine additional cities in the United States; and an annotated bibliography of current literature on the topic.



Brian Michael Jenkins is one of the world’s foremost authorities on terrorism and sophisticated crime. He works with government agencies, international organizations and multinational corporations as an analyst, investigator, and crisis management consultant. From 1989 to 1998,Mr. Jenkins was the Deputy Chairman of Kroll Associates, an international investigative and consulting firm. Before that, he was chairman of RAND’s political science department, where from 1972 to 1989, he also directed RAND’s research on political violence. He is currently a senior advisor to the president of RAND.

Jenkins has BA in Fine Arts and a Master’s degree in History, both from UCLA. He studied at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and in the Department of Humanities at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, where he was a Fulbright Fellow and recipient of a second fellowship from the Organization of American States.

Commissioned in the infantry at the age of 19, Mr. Jenkins became a paratrooper and ultimately, a Captain in the Green Berets. He is a decorated combat veteran, having served in the Seventh Special Forces Group in the Dominican Republic during the American intervention and later as a member of the Fifth Special Forces Group in Vietnam (1966-1967). He returned to Vietnam on a special assignment in 1968 to serve as a civilian member of the Long Range Planning Task Group; he remained with the group until the end of 1969, receiving the Department of the Army’s highest award for his service. Mr. Jenkins returned to Vietnam in 1971 on a special assignment. Mr. Jenkins is the author of International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict, the editor and coauthor of Terrorism and Personal Protection, co-editor and co-author of Aviation Terrorism and Security, and co-author of The Fall of South Vietnam. He is also the author of numerous articles, book chapters, and published research reports on conflict and crime.

In 1996, President Clinton appointed Mr. Jenkins to be a member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. From 1999 to 2000, he served as an advisor to the National Commission on Terrorism and in 2000 was appointed to be a member of the U.S. Comptroller General’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and a member of the board of directors of the ICC’s Commercial Crime Services. Mr. Jenkins was also a member of the Transportation Research Board/National Research Council Panel on Transportation: Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism, 2002.

Mr. Jenkins has led the Mineta Transportation Institute’s counter-terrorism research team since 1997, producing three volumes of case studies of major terrorist attacks on surface transportation and participating in symposia to disseminate best practices distilled from lessons learned in the attacks. attacks.

December 1997
Crisis management
Emergency Communications
Emergency response
Liaison with authorities
Restoration of services
Role of the public
Security organization
Security technology
Threat assessment



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