Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tip of the Day: WHY Governments, Criminals and Terrorists Surveill Residents, Foreigners

Governments, criminals, and terrorists watch residents and foreigners for many reasons…justification is limited only by motive.

We call this surveillance. One of the best examples of surveillance by terrorists included the pre-attack surveillance of the US commercial airline system by the 9/11 hijackers. 

Another example is the surveillance of the late US diplomat Larry Foley, who was surveilled by al-Qaeda operatives before they assassinated him in front of his house in Amman in 2002. Criminals use surveillance techniques often to guarantee the success of a robbery, bur- glary, rape, home invasion, and other crimes. Below are some examples of government surveillance:

--April 1997: Donald Ratcliffe, Asian area sales manager for a Litton subsidiary, was arrested by South Korean intelligence agents for allegedly obtaining military secrets from Korean arms dealers. Ratcliffe was tried along with three other defendants and received a two- year suspended sentence; and

--December 2000: Retired U.S. Navy Captain Edmond Pope was surveilled by Russian FSB (formerly KGB) agents, arrested, and charged with purchasing military plans that were publicly available. Pope eventually became the first American to be convicted of espionage in Russia and received a 20-year sentence. After eight months in prison, Pope received a pardon from Russian President Vladamir Putin.

--December 2006: Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American and head of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, was pulled from her taxi en- route to the Tehran Airport. Iranian authorities prevented her return to the United States, seized her US and Iranian passports, and placed her under house arrest. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and considers Esfandiari an Iranian. In May 2007, Esfandiari was taken to the notorious Evin Prison. FYI: In 2003, journalist Zahra Kazemi (who held both Canadian and Iranian passports and lived in Montreal) was accused of taking photographs of the prison. She was taken into custody, sent to the same prison, and died from beatings received there;

--April 2007: Retired FBI Agent Robert S. Levinson disappeared in Iran seven years ago while working as a security consultant, he is the longest US hostage in American history. 

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Foreigners may find themselves under surveillance for a variety of reasons:

1. A national government wants to know what they are up to;

2. The national government suspects they are engaging in nefarious or politically bizarre behavior;

3. The foreign government does not want anything bad to happen to them. They may be guests of the government, on a diplomatic mission, or senior business executives;

4. Local criminals use pre-incident surveillance to ensure they can successfully commit a crime against them;

5. Terrorists conduct pre-incident surveillance to ensure a successful attack against a vital installation, national landmark, soft targets, or a transportation system (e.g., the 2005 London transit attacks). 

PART 2 of 3 parts continues tomorrow.

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