Rail Security Experts Warn That U.S. Rail System is Vulnerable to London-Style Attacks

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Terrorism experts at RailSecure warned today of possible future domestic terrorist attacks directed at passenger rail systems here in the United States that could resemble recent rail-directed bombings in London and Madrid. U.S.-based RailSecure is a leading global provider of passenger and freight rail security and counter-terrorism consulting.

Terrorism experts at RailSecure warned today of possible future domestic terrorist attacks directed at passenger rail systems here in the United States that could resemble recent rail-directed bombings in London and Madrid. U.S.-based RailSecure is a leading global provider of passenger and freight rail security and counter-terrorism consulting.

The London Bombings:

In response to a question regarding the implications of the second set of bombings that followed the more deadly attack of July 7th, which saw at least 55 people killed as a result of a series of explosions on public transportation in the British capital of London, Kim E. Petersen, the President of RailSecure said, “It is important to understand that these attacks are not random or opportunistic exercises in terrorism; rather al-Qa'ida has very specific expectations from these acts. The first bombings were timed to disrupt the G-8 meeting of world leaders. However, while significant, this goal was secondary to creating a schism between UK-US counterterrorism goals in general and the military coalition in Iraq in particular. Finally, the longer-term goal was to create a catalyst for political change in the UK, as occurred in Spain when the al-Qa'ida train bombings that killed 191 persons and injured more than 1,500 resulted in the collapse of the government and strained relations with the US.

“It is important to note that, since the terror attacks of 9/11, al-Qa'ida has conducted operations, not against the US, but instead in places like Bali, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, Egypt, Madrid, and now England. It is the goal of al-Qa'ida to isolate the United States by terrorizing its allies”, said Petersen.

US Vulnerabilities:

When asked about the prospect of similar attacks occurring in the US, Petersen pointed out that, “Both the United Kingdom and the United States share significant security vulnerabilities in their rail systems. Rail officials in both countries also complain about funding shortfalls for security infrastructure enhancements. Yet, despite these realities, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff recently said that security for commuter rail systems is the responsibility of states and local governments, not the federal government. Secretary Chertoff believes that the US government must concentrate its resources on aviation security, where he believes an event could account for greater casualties.”

Petersen continued, “While the Secretary means well, I strongly believe that he is receiving poor counsel on this issue. On average we spend over $9 per airline passenger for security, compared with only nine cents for each rail passenger; this despite the fact that over 10 times as many Americans travel by train every day than fly on commercial aircraft. When considering our vulnerability to an act of rail terrorism of the kind we have seen in Madrid and London, it is well to remember that with more than 2,500 passenger stations in the US, and over 10 billion passenger rail trips completed each year, this constitutes an obvious - and dangerously vulnerable - target for terrorists bent on killing Americans.”

“There have been over 181 attacks on trains and related rail targets worldwide between 1998 and 2003 in such countries as Colombia, India, Spain, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela”, said John Hart, RailSecure's CEO. “US authorities have warned that they have unconfirmed intelligence that terrorists operating in the United States have shown an interest in passenger rail operations, as well as freight trains carrying hazardous materials. More alarming is the fact that the al-Qa'ida cell responsible for the Madrid bombings was later found to have detailed drawings and technical information relating to New York's Grand Central Station. Whether it was the Madrid terrorist cell or one operating secretly here in the US that might have plans for a US attack is unclear, but the threat is anything but.”

During a discussion of past terror incidents, Hart pointed out that attacks against railroads are more numerous and deadly than those on airports and airplanes. “Trains have experienced deliberate derailments, attacks by gunfire, hostage taking, bombings, and even an attack with a weapon of mass destruction: the use of Sarin gas - a chemical warfare agent - by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in their attack against the Tokyo subway, which killed 11 and injured over 5,500 people.”

Concluding Remarks:

“The Unites States has a propensity for being reactive to terrorism and not proactive. Following terror attacks against airliners, we focus almost exclusively on protecting aviation. But terrorists such as al-Qa'ida are quick to move on to the next target they perceive to be 'soft' and ill-protected,” said Petersen in closing. “The work necessary to strengthen rail security is an enormous task, and it is unreasonable - and dangerous - for the rail industry to be expected to shoulder this responsibility alone.

“Further, the price of protecting our rail system today is far less than what it will cost following a series of bombings. Proactive steps that prevent a rail attack, such as random screening of passengers; redesign of seats, luggage racks, and garbage cans; enhanced use of closed-circuit television; increased security and police patrolling; the presence of bomb-sniffing dogs; domain awareness training of railroad employees; and importantly, public security awareness programs that incorporate the eyes and ears of passengers into the railroads security program, are all achievable goals. However, in the aftermath of devastating bombings, it may be deemed essential to adopt draconian measures, as occurred following 9/11, and in so doing eliminate the very convenience and speed of travel that makes rail the lifeblood of many cities.

“RailSecure calls upon the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider its distribution of counterterrorism resources. In light of the tragic events of London and Madrid, there must be a change in priorities before more lives are lost.”

About RailSecure LLC:

RailSecure is the first company in the United States dedicated exclusively to railroad security and risk management. A multi-disciplinary professional services firm, RailSecure provides risk consulting services (including security vulnerability assessments, and design & engineering); risk management solutions (including project management, procurement assistance, and management software tools); and, rail guarding services. It also performs physical, personnel, and information security training and certification to both industry and government. http://www.railsecure.com

About Kim Petersen:

In addition to being the President of RailSecure, Mr. Petersen is also the Chairman of Mobius Security Group, a diversified homeland security solutions provider that includes such companies as Oceanix, SeaSecure, IntelligenceBrief, RailSecure, and EnergySecure. Kim has over 25-years of experience in security and anti-terrorism activities. His civilian career has included senior staff positions with former US Secretaries of State Kissinger and Haig. He lectures extensively and has been featured on such programs as CBS's “Sixty Minutes,” ABC's “20/20,” the Evening News with Peter Jennings, the History Channel, and National Public Radio. He is a former Visiting Professor at the UN's World Maritime University, a current Senior Associate Instructor at the US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, a Trustee of the Maritime Security Institute, and the Executive Director of the Maritime Security Council. In 2003, the Secretary of Transportation appointed Kim to the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council; and in 2004, he was appointed by the Department of Homeland Security to the Area Maritime Security Committee for Southern Florida.

About John Hart:

Mr. John P. Hart is the CEO of RailSecure, LLC. John has over 30 years of distinguished executive experience in both the public and private sectors, including over 20 years of elected office. John is the former Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Broward County, Florida and Mayor of the city of North Lauderdale, Florida. As a member of Florida's Board of the Expressway Authority, John led efforts to establish a regional transportation system in southern Florida. And in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, he launched the Transportation Management Authority. As Chairman of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, he was recognized for significantly advancing the regional public transportation system. In the private sector, John served as a vice president of Metcalf & Eddy before being recruited to become the President and CEO of Aquagenix Land Water Technologies, a publicly traded company. He later became a partner and was appointed COO and Executive Vice President of the transportation engineering, planning, and environmental firm of Keith and Schnars. He has often been featured in the media and has received numerous awards, including the Governor's Award for Excellence, Legislator of the Year, and Florida Leader of the Year.


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