Monday, 26 December 2011


In 2004, 10 bombs were simultaneously detonated in Madrid that killed 190 and injured over 2000 train commuters. One early morning of 2005, 4 suicide bombers, 3 aboard London Underground trains and 1 on a double decker bus killed 52 and injured more than 700. Attackers armed with rifles and grenades went on a rampage in Mumbai, India’s largest City, and left 100 dead with more than 200 injured in 2008. Moscow continuously experienced a string of urban terrorism attacks from 2000 – 2010 claiming hundreds of lives.

“If you notice any suspicious article or person, please contact our staff or call 911.”

The message to Singapore’s nationwide public transport’s passengers has been clear since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It warns of the high possibility of Singapore becoming a target and vigilance of every citizen is required to safe guard against the cunning, hidden and unpredictable threat. Without the eyes, ears, and intuition of the general public, authorities stand little chance of identifying the enemy among us.

Terrorism became a blinding reality 10 years ago and continues to claim the lives of many civilians through its variety of attacks and targets. Urban terrorism, more specifically, has claimed the lives of thousands in densely populated cities in the world. Urban Terrorism is terrorism aimed at urban populations in bid to cause the most causality in a single targeted area. Areas like trains and streets offer these terrorists the best covert disguise, using the confusion to disappear into the crowd as observed in the increasing cases of attacks. In addition the crowd provides the opportunity of a supporting attack that spreads its fatality further across the area. Unfortunately, these areas, unlike transportation hubs, cannot be subjected to physical security measures as they are designed to be open and easily accessible to vast numbers of people.

Terrorists have played this vital weakness to their strength allowing them to be virtually undetectable in any area. These attacks reveal tactical knowledge, careful planning, coordinated execution and experience of our attackers. And as the reality of urban warfare continues to unfold on the city streets worldwide; they grow stronger with each successful detonation of their bombs.

Thankfully, recent developments in facial recognition and high-speed retina scanning have aided authorities significantly in detecting and tracking known suspects through a crowd. Governments all over the world have also stepped up security measures by saturating urban areas with surveillance camera systems. According to Duos Technologies Inc, one is expected to pass the view of at least 300 different Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) while walking down the streets of London in the day. Increased numbers of CCTVs have been strategically placed in all local MRT stations as well as buses.

Even with additional technologies, countries worldwide are still very much dependent on civilians’ surveillance to prevent and minimise fatalities.

Editor: JT

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