Friday, April 09, 2004

Open Source Training Tips?

In his book 1000 Years for Revenge, Peter Lance details the thwarted hijacking of an Air France flight in 1994 by Algerian terrorists from the Armed Islamic Group. The hijackers intended to crash the fuel-laden plane into the Eifel Tower. The January 5, 1995 issue of Time carried a story, "Anatomy of a Hijack", which "detailed every moment" of the hijacking and the rescue. A copy of that magazine was found in Ramzi Yousef's apartment in the Philippines when police raided it.

It seems likely that al Qaeda learned a few things not to do from the Algerians's experience. Which raises a troubling question: To what degree does an open society provide free "lessons learned" to terrorists and criminals?

Modern media companies can draw upon the expertise of a large number and wide variety of authorities. This professional expertise is completely beyond the reach of the average individual. But when there is a hot story, the information and insights are just there for the asking on TV, in the newspaper, and on the Internet.

It's not just al Qaeda operatives who can profit. Smart criminals can as well. This point was brought home to me while watching Fox News over the last two weeks. A serial killer in Kansas has resurfaced to taunt police. As expected, Fox has brought on an array of detectives, profilers, forensic specialists, etc. They were happy to discuss the methods the police now have to track down the killer who has eluded them since the 1970s.

Law enforcement believes that this man is smart and follows the news. It seems more than possible that he learned how better to avoid capture by listening to TV and reading the papers (Fox has not been alone on this.)

As i said, troubling.

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