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20 Years Later: Where Were You on 9/11?

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, TrapWire has reached out to some of our team members to discuss what they were doing on that day. The following is from our Director of Business Development, Mike Maness, who spent almost two-decades as a Senior Case Officer and Field Manager for CIA. On September 11, […]

TrapWire will be at the 2021 National Homeland Security Conference in Las Vegas

08/30 – 9/2/21 2021 TrapWire will be at the NATIONAL HOMELAND SECURITY CONFERENCE IN LAS VEGAS! Visit us at booth #528!  

Keeping a Human In-The-Loop: The Limits of AI in Security Systems

In the spring of 2020, Croatian chess player Antonio Radic’s YouTube chess channel, which had more than one-million subscribers at the time, was blocked during a chess show. Although YouTube restored access within 24-hours, Radic was never provided with an explanation for the block. He suspected his account was blocked because he referred to the […]

Inauguration Day Security: Lessons Learned

As the security checkpoints are being dismantled, hundreds of yards of fencing and concertina wire taken down, and the majority of National Guard and out of state law enforcement personnel sent back home, the security operations related to President Joe Biden’s inauguration are being viewed as a success. One reason for this success is that […]

Physical Protection: Who Defines a “Hard Target?”

This article was written by TrapWire Director Michael Maness, who served two decades as a senior operations officer and field manager with the Central Intelligence Agency conducting covert counterterror and counterintelligence operations on behalf of the USG in more than a dozen countries. Just about everyone has heard the terms “hard” and “soft” targets. The […]

FedRAMP, Why it Matters to You

In 2011, as part of the U.S. government’s “Cloud First Policy,” the Office of Management and Budget initiated the Federal Risk and Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP was designed to enable federal agencies to leverage the efficiency of cloud-based products and services, confident in the knowledge that the systems used are secure and reliable. FedRAMP Director […]

Surveillance Detection Extends Beyond Counter-Terrorism

A recent rash of car thefts at the Seattle-Tacoma (SEATAC) airport highlights the importance of comprehensive surveillance detection. While many government and private sector entities utilize surveillance detection programs (whether human or technical) to protect against terror threats or physical violence, these same techniques can be used to thwart property crimes as well. In the […]

Who Defines a Hard Target?

This article was written by TrapWire Director Michael Maness, who spent two decades as a senior operations officer and field manager with the Central Intelligence Agency and was involved in counterterror investigations ranging from Pan Am 103 through 9/11. Understanding the motivation and rationale for a criminal event – be it a school shooting, an […]

Cyber Attacks and Social Engineering: Hackers Target People, Not Just Systems

This article was written by TRAPWIRE President Dan Botsch and Director Michael Maness. Dan and Mike were senior officers and managers with the Central Intelligence Agency, covering issues ranging from counterterrorism to foreign intelligence operations. Their real-world experience, like others working at TrapWire, brings a unique perspective to our counterterror and counterintelligence services. At its […]

London Attack: Our Adversaries are Patient

By: TRAPWIRE Director, Michael Maness. Mike spent two decades as a senior operations officer and field manager with the Central Intelligence Agency and was involved in counterterror operations and investigations ranging from Pan Am 103 through 9/11. When I lived in Rome we learned that burglars would regularly test residential security systems. They’d sneak on […]

Working Against Modern Terror Cells: A Change in Tactics

  Excerpted from: Offline, cultlike, Spain terror cell evaded detection August 24, 2017 france24.com MADRID (AFP) – The jihadist cell behind last week’s twin attacks in Spain was built around a “guru” and went completely offline to avoid detection by anti-terrorist police, experts said. The group managed to evade authorities so well that even a giant […]

London Attacks: Indications of Pre-Attack Preparations

The attack against the Palace of Westminster and innocent civilians along Westminster Bridge continues to follow a recent pattern of terror incidents, namely, an asymmetrical attack using common items such as vehicles and knives against crowded, public targets. At first glance, the attacks in Nice, Berlin and London would appear to be random acts of […]

Inside the Mind of a Terrorist Surveillant

This is the second article in our series discussing real-world terrorist operational planning written by TRAPWIRE Director Michael Maness. (The first article, on an operation conducted by the Red Army Faction in Germany, can be found here.) Mike spent two decades as a senior operations officer and field manager with the Central Intelligence Agency and […]

JCC Bomb Threats: More Than Meets the Eye?

The recent spate of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) raises several questions: Are these threats solely for the purposes of intimidation? Is there a pattern to the threats? And most troubling:  Could the threats be used to view security and evacuation protocols in preparation for an attack? This picture epitomizes several security vulnerabilities […]

A Well-Planned Assassination

In our previous post regarding a potential new modus operandi used by some terrorists, we made mention of the possibility that terror groups may now be developing hardened, professional cadres of assassins, rather than using suicide bombers or recruiting martyrs. We noted the similarity in this tactic with terror groups from the 1970s and 80s, […]

No More Martyrs: A Shift in Terror Tactics?

As police across Europe and the Middle East continue their search for Istanbul nightclub attacker Lakhe Mashrapov, one cannot but notice an emerging trend with terror attacks over the past two years, namely, the apparent intent by some terrorists to survive the event. San Bernardino, Brussels, Paris, Berlin and now Istanbul are just a handful […]

Berlin Attack Fits Recent Terror Pattern

The attack against a Christmas market in Berlin follows an all too familiar pattern: an individual who was known to local law enforcement launches a violent attack using an improvised weapon against a soft target. In this instance, the assailant, Anis Amri, escaped from the crime scene (similar to the Paris attack planner, Abdelhamid Abaaoud) […]

A New Approach to Public Safety

Business Executives for National Security (BENS) released an Issue Paper yesterday advocating for a new, networked approach to public safety. This approach focuses on the development of public/private partnerships to improve America’s ability to address an increasingly complex threat environment. This bottom-up approach to threat detection and information sharing could pave the way for significant […]

Potentially Malicious Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Increases

This is an interesting report by the Combating Terrorism Center on the threats posed by drones and other unmanned aerial systems. At TRAPWIRE, we have noted a significant increase in the number of UAS-related incidents reported by both our private and public sector clients over the past 18 months. These incidents have often occurred at […]

Sexual Predator on the Loose: Law Enforcement Seeking Help from the Public

  Excerpted from: FBI baffled by mysterious Cleveland and Elyria child abduction cases by Adam Ferrise October 13, 2016 cleveland.com CLEVELAND, Ohio — The case of a man who abducted a 6-year-old Cleveland girl and later tried to abduct a 10-year-old Elyria girl has left federal investigators baffled. More than 200 agents and police officers […]

Reactions to the New York Attack: Finding the Balance Between Long-Term and Short-Term Goals in Countering Terror

Consider the following scenario: A man enters a hospital emergency room clutching his chest and complaining of shortness of breath. The attending physician notices the man is morbidly obese and learns he’s also diabetic. The doctor sits the man down, hands him some pamphlets about exercise and healthy diet, and begins explaining the importance of […]

NYT: How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers

  A jailhouse interview with a German man who joined the Islamic State reveals the workings of a unit whose lieutenants are empowered to plan attacks around the world. nytimes.com/2016/08/04/world/middleeast/isis-german-recruit-interview.html This is an excellent article on pre-attack tactics, communications and preparations undertaken by terrorist organizations ahead of an attack. The article focuses on the “how’s” […]

Potential Security Threats Posed by Social Media and Other Apps

Note:  On July 19 we issued the following bulletin to our clients within the TRAPWIRE platform.  Given recent reporting indicating that the Munich shooter may have lured victims with a social media posting, we have decided to make this threat analysis public.   View original bulletin PDF   Information Bulletin   Pokémon Go App We […]

How Do We Stop the New Terrorist Modus Operandi?

Consider the following hypothetical situations: A woman walks into gun store and attempts to purchase two military-grade ballistic vests. She’s denied the sale and leaves. This was her third attempt to acquire these items. Two men enter a beauty supply store and purchase three gallons of hydrogen peroxide. They pay in cash and appear nervous. […]

Public-Private Information Sharing: Early Threat Detection Extends Beyond Terrorism

A recent arrest in Madison, WI highlights the importance of suspicious activity reporting and public awareness campaigns that focus on criminal indicators beyond potential terrorist activity. On July 5th, the Madison County sheriff’s office responded to a suspicious activity complaint at a nearby Wal-Mart. The female customer reported an unknown white male attempting to take […]

A Dark Day for Law Enforcement

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the law enforcement officers killed and wounded in yesterday’s brazen attack in Dallas. We have worked with and trained thousands of LEOs in Texas and across the country over the past ten years, and have seen first-hand the bravery and selflessness that motivates these dedicated […]

Istanbul Pre-Attack Planning: The Terrorist’s Greatest Vulnerability

  It was carried out in a way that suggests the kind of advance intelligence, careful study of a target, and cool execution that would normally be practiced by Western special forces. Excerpted from: Istanbul Ataturk Airport Terrorists Behaved Like a Special Forces Unit June 29, 2016 The Daily Beast This article by the Daily […]

Istanbul Airport Attacks

Although specific details are still pending, initial reporting from the airport attack in Istanbul today indicates the assailants launched their attack in the public terminal areas of the airport – similar to what occurred at Brussels airport in March of this year, and Russia’s Domodedovo airport in 2011. This latest event fits the pattern of […]

The Importance of Understanding the “How” Rather Than Just the “Why” of Terrorism

The events in Orlando have reignited public debate about the “why” of terrorism. Why are young people (east and west) drawn to the more violent tenets of Islam? Why do some of our fellow Americans, born and raised in the West, still feel like outsiders in their homeland? Why does the process of radicalization appear […]

The Head of the Snake: Terrorist Planning Cells are the True Danger

  France & Belgian authorities warned new wave of #ISIL fighters like #Brussels cell leaving #Syria heading there. pic.twitter.com/gl7lVEtx6K — JJ Green (@NATSEC09) June 15, 2016 European authorities are, once again, warning about a possible new influx of terrorist operatives planning attacks on the Continent. Potential targets include law enforcement, transportation hubs and US fast-food […]

Orlando Nightclub Shooting: A Disturbing Pattern

While details are still emerging, all indications are this was a terror attack possibly carried out by a jihadist inspired individual or group. The Orlando shooting fits a troubling pattern of attacks targeting crowded public entertainment venues such as what happened in Paris, Brussels and Tel Aviv. This focus on “soft targets” is something we […]

How To Spot a Terrorist: The Dangers of Profiling

The recent arrest of a French national in the Ukraine, who had reportedly planned a series of attacks around the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, highlights a challenge faced by many law enforcement and security officials: how do I identify a “terrorist?” In this case, the French citizen, apparently motivated by “ultra-nationalist views,” had planned on […]

Gates, Guns and Guards: The False Sense of Security

  Excerpted from: Al-Shabab hits Hotel Ambassador in Somalia’s Mogadishu June 2, 2016 ALJAZEERA “They want to send a message that although they might have lost control of the city, they can still carry out such attacks with audacity.” Based on initial reporting, it appears Al-Shabaab used a “double tap” operation to attack the Ambassador […]

Egypt Air: Potential Implications for Airport Security

Although the exact cause of Egypt Air flight MS804’s disappearance is unknown, western security officials are exploring the possibility of yet another terror attack against this airline company. While the investigation is still on-going, it will likely cause increased airport security procedures at US terminals – leading to even longer lines and missed flights for […]

Terror Groups Targeting US Business Community for Assassinations

Although foreign and domestic terrorist organizations have long targeted the private sector, Al-Qaeda’s call for jihadists and lone wolves to target specific US business leaders and entrepreneurs is troubling – but not unexpected. 9/11 was, in essence, an attack against one of the single most important US business centers. Our economy has long been a […]

New ISIS Hit Lists

TRAPWIRE analysts have been closely following developments related to the alleged new ISIS targeting list which appears to include private citizens in addition to government employees and security officials. While law enforcement agencies have deemed the list to contain dated material with a low-probability of actual attacks, it is a reminder that security starts at […]

The Pre-Attack Sequence

Modern terror groups have proven adept at modifying the tactics and methods used to launch attacks. Their preferred weapons and delivery systems have adapted to changing security systems and procedures – from knives and handguns used in hijackings in the 60s and 70s, to VBIEDs to airplanes as weapons over the past 15 years. However, […]

European Allies Still Struggle With Intelligence Sharing

  Excerpted from: ISIS Spreading in Europe, U.S. Intelligence Chief Warns By Eric Schmitt and Alissa J. Rubin April 25, 2016 New York Times WASHINGTON — The Islamic State is operating clandestine terrorist cells in Britain, Germany and Italy, similar to the groups that carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the top-ranking American […]

Do We Really Know What A Hard Target Is?

For several years there have been discussions and analyses of a shift in terrorist targeting from hard to soft targets. The recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, as well as the 2008 attack in Mumbai, all included so-called soft targets. When we in the West talk of “soft” targets, we clearly mean those sites lacking […]

New Arrests in Brussels Continue to Support Predictions of Much Larger Cell

As we predicted immediately following the Brussels attacks, the terror network involved in this operation was extensive. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will work to collect details on other members from these new arrests. In particular, security officials will be interested in identifying surveillance and logistics team members as these individuals often have a great […]

The Brussels Attacks: Questions We Should All Be Asking

  In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, investigators will comb through the evidence seeking details on how these attacks were executed. As they do, there are several questions that must be answered, including the following: How did the bombers know that the airport K-9 units were not patrolling the curbside area where […]

ISIS’ Western Operatives: Rethinking Standard Security Approaches

While estimating the number of foreign fighters joining ISIS remains difficult, we continue to see a steady increase in volunteers heading to battlegrounds in the Middle East. Foreign fighters from Western Europe had more than doubled since June 2014, according to a December 2015 report by intelligence consult Soufan Group, and as many fighters return […]

Brussels: Anatomy of an Attack

6 Arrested in Brussels Police Operation After French Raids Foil Planned Terror Attack The arrests on Thursday of additional suspects in the Brussels terror attacks supports our assessment that this operation involved a much larger cell than the attack teams who targeted the airport and metro station. In sharp contrast to the attack in San […]

The Third Glove

  We continue to see speculation within the media that the gloves being worn by the Brussels suspects were associated with the detonator, or as protection against a premature detonation due to static electricity. While it is true the AQ training manual suggests the wearing of gloves to stop static discharge, both AQ and ISIS training […]

The Brussels Attacks: Standard Security Procedures Are No Longer Enough

The tragic events in Brussels highlight, once again, the shift of terror attacks against softer targets. Protecting an entire public transportation system in a manner that does not impact free movement is extremely difficult. And the attacks launched in the check-in areas of Brussels airport (rather than against an airliner in flight) appear to copy […]

“They do their homework” (audio)

Listen to Dan Botsch, President of TRAPWIRE, discuss the challenges faced by the Intelligence and Law Enforcement communities in the current terrorism threat environment with WTOP’s J.J. Green. The Hunt:  Today’s terrorists…”they do their homework” Interview with J.J. Green WTOP It’s getting harder and harder for authorities to detect and deter terror attacks. In this edition […]

Dangers of Profiling in Counter-Terrorism

ISIS will continue to use terror tactics and techniques that test the standard operating procedures of western intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This article highlights the dangers of using profiling when it comes to countering terrorism. ISIS’ increased use of local citizens, females and the young shows that the old focus on adult male foreign […]

Terrorist Targeting of Private Sector Employees: The Importance of Situational Awareness

This possible surveillance of an employee away from their work place (detailed in the NYT article below) is a classic technique used by hostile intelligence services and terror groups alike. Human nature is such that we often let down our guard when we are away from the office, making us more easily observable (and approachable). […]

Political and Economic Crises Help Terror Recruitment Efforts

  Global despair continues to feed terrorism’s influence by J.J. Green WTOP WASHINGTON — Terrorists and criminal networks have taken advantage of governmental corruption, the misery of war and other developments to build dangerous empires that might soon eclipse the power of legitimate countries. In Europe, for instance, human trafficking operations quadrupled in size from […]

Balancing Privacy with Security

JJ Green’s article (excerpted below) accurately reflects some of the challenges faced by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the west. Balancing privacy concerns with improved security measures has always been a challenge for open societies, as evidenced by the current dilemma facing Apple and the encrypted cell phone used by one of the San […]

Radioactive material stolen in Iraq

  Exclusive: Radioactive material stolen in Iraq raises security fears by Ahmed Rasheed, Aref Mohammed, and Stephen Kalin Reuters Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by […]

Hints of ISIS plot before Paris attacks

  Intel agencies had hints of ISIS plot before Paris attacks, source says by Paul Cruickshank CNN (CNN)Intelligence obtained by Western security agencies before the November 13 Paris attacks indicated as many as 60 ISIS fighters had been deployed by the group to Europe to carry out attacks on five cities and had already reached European […]

Unprecedented threats facing U.S.

Another excellent article from WTOP reporter J.J. Green. This article accurately captures the new reality of terrorism: small, self-radicalized and self-sustaining cells of operatives who avoid (or hide) communications with terror leaders overseas will be extremely difficult to detect. A new approach is needed, whereby law enforcement, the intel community and the private sector improve […]

FBI worried ISIL headed to D.C.

We encourage you to read the following article from J.J. Green of WTOP. We also agree with its conclusion: the increasingly desperate state of ISIS operations in Syria will inevitably push them towards expanding their attacks against soft targets elsewhere. There continues to be a steady stream of refugees fleeing the region and attempting to enter […]

ISIS planning ‘special forces-style’ attacks in Europe

This report from EUROPOL supports our long-standing prediction of a shift in terrorist MO from large-scale, iconic site attacks, to smaller “Mumbai-style” attacks against soft targets in the West. This shift in TTPs will pose a significant challenge for intelligence and law enforcement organizations attempting to detect these types of attacks ahead of time. ISIS planning […]

The True Lone Wolf is Rare

  Since the November Paris attacks federal prosecutors have already taken 10 people into custody over their suspected involvement, which appear to have been prepared mainly in Belgium. If the two latest detainees are kept in custody, their number would rise to 12. Last week, investigators said a number of the Paris attackers used two […]

The Chattanooga Effect

Since TRAPWIRE’s inception, our purpose has been to enable our customers to detect pre-attack events and patterns and get the information into the right hands in order to prevent the incident. The tools and methods we have built over the last 12 years have proven very successful at doing just that. However, it’s an obvious […]

Re-Evaluating Corporate Security

  Following news of an attack on a work group, companies are left wondering whether they should ramp up security, and if so by how much? Should office buildings install metal detectors? Should doctors’ offices have silent alarms at the reception desk? Do retailers need an in-store security guard? “Every business is different so security […]

Comments on the San Bernardino Terror Attack

While the exact motive for this week’s horrific attack in San Bernadino remains unclear, based on the evidence collected thus far, most security experts and government analysts believe this to have been a terrorist operation. The weapons used, timing of the attack, and planned escape route all point towards a high degree of pre-attack planning. […]

The Paris Attacks: A Response

The Paris attacks represent a form of terrorism that will be extremely difficult for Western nations to defeat. This modus operandi hits soft targets, is cheap, low-tech and effective. Moreover, this threat is decentralized, with thousands of potential Jihadis now in place across Europe and the U.S. With the current 24-hour news cycle, it is […]

Preventing Terrorism

  Originally published by Crime & Justice International by R. Daniel Botsch and Michael T. Maness, TRAPWIRE Inc. November/December 2006 It has become commonplace to declare that the world has changed since the attacks of September 11th. We are all acutely aware of the new security challenges and threats we face from terrorism across the globe. […]

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