Published July 13, 2005
Counterterrorism expert Juval Aviv spoke with FOX Fan Central about what Americans can do to protect themselves in case of a terror attack.
Do you believe another terrorist attack is likely on American soil?
I predict, based primarily on information that is floating in Europe and the Middle East, that an event is imminent and around the corner here in the United States. It could happen as soon as tomorrow, or it could happen in the next few months. Ninety days at the most.
What advice do you have for individuals that have the misfortune of finding themselves in the middle of a terror attack?
Since mass transportation is the next attack, when you travel to work have with you, a bottle of water, a small towel and a flashlight. What happened in London is exactly a point to look at. Those people who were close to the bombs died, then others were injured or died from inhaling the toxic fumes or getting trampled. The reason you take a bottle of water and a towel is that if you wet the towel and put it over your face, you can protect yourself against the fumes and get yourself out of there.
Don't be bashful. If your gut feeling tells you when you walk onto a bus there is something unusual or suspicious, get out and walk away. You may do it 10 times for no reason, but there will be one time that saves your life. Let your sixth sense direct you.
Try to break your routine. If you travel during rush hour every day, try to get up a little earlier and drive to work or take the train when it’s still not full. Don’t find yourself every day in the midst of rush hour. Terrorists are not going to waste a bomb on a half-empty train.
What portion of the American infrastructure do you believe is at the greatest risk for a terror attack?
We have put all of our emphasis, right or wrong, on the aviation area. What has happened, in the last two to three years, based on information we have, is the terrorists have realized that they cannot hijack a plane in America soon because the passengers are going to fight back. So they realize what they have been very successful with over the last 50 years in Madrid, London, Iraq, Israel: demoralizing the public when they go to work and when they come back from work.
What they’re going to do is hit six, seven or eight cities simultaneously to show sophistication and really hit the public. This time, which is the message of the day, it will not only be big cities. They’re going to try to hit rural America. They want to send a message to rural America: "You’re not protected. If you figured out that if you just move out of New York and move to Montana or to Pittsburgh, you’re not immune. We’re going [to] get you wherever we can and it’s easier there than in New York."
What more do you think the government can do to protect the public?
Number one, and this is the beef I’ve had with Homeland Security for the last four years, is educating the public on how to deal with those types of events. There’s no education. We’re raising the color code alert and that means nothing to anyone. Whether it’s green, yellow, pink, no one ever educated the public how to identify suspicious items or people. In Israel, so many of them [terrorists] have been apprehended just because people have phoned in. We don’t have that training on campuses, schools or kindergarten.
In Israel, it’s very popular right now [amongst terrorists] to put one device to explode and time another one for five minutes later when it’s all calm, people are getting up and the rescue teams have responded. You need to know all those things and think about those things. The government must pursue that. Law enforcement will never have enough people on the street to detect things. We don’t have that kind of manpower. That’s why the government must enlist the public.
Juval Aviv is a former Israeli Counterterrorism Intelligence Officer and President and CEO of Interfor, Inc. Mr. Aviv has also served as a special consultant to the U.S. Congress on issues of terrorism and security and is the author of “Staying Safe : The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business.”