CORDIS - EU research results

Suicide Bomber Counteraction and Prevention

Periodic Report Summary 1 - SUBCOP (Suicide Bomber Counteraction and Prevention)

Project Context and Objectives:
The project SUBCOP (Suicide Bomber Counteraction and Prevention) sets out to develop technologies and procedures that can be applied by the Police Security Forces when responding to a suspected PBIED (Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device). It addresses the next step to take when an alert to a possible PBIED has been issued, and an attack may be imminent. SUBCOP is insensitive to how the alert is raised, should it be based on detection of explosives or explosive devices, informants’ reporting, or other intelligence sources. It is however sensitive to the fact that the alert only gives cause for suspecting the presence of a PBIED, and that this suspicion can be of lower or higher confidence. SUBCOP sets out to develop guidance as to what response to a PBIED that is ethically and socially justifiable for a given situation. SUBCOP also considers the available tools for less than lethal PBIED intervention, the novel procedures for their application and the development of new less than lethal capabilities that will fit with the highly set requirements; to avoid injuries on the suspect yet control the situation to such an extent that no harm will come to innocent bystanders or first responders, should the suspicion of a PBIED presence be accurate.

SUBCOP uses a holistic approach to the PBIED intervention. Building on input from End User organisations with first-hand experience in dealing with PBIED situations, a toolbox of available and researched less than lethal interventions to PBIED’s is defined. A subset of the most relevant and effective tools and their associated procedures will be further developed and refined within three technological focus areas; Softer methods, Mitigation and containment, and Less than lethal methods. As an outcome of the project, there will be improved technical and procedural methods to counter PBIED’s in a less lethal manner, but also a response guidance tool considering the major aspects influencing the decision, and a training guidance on tools, technologies and procedures in the SUBCOP context - to be used when educating e.g. the Police Security Forces. The balance of safety of the public, safety of the first responder, and the rights of the individual are integral to the project in that it is a building block for the toolbox, and for the response guidance tool.

Project Results:
In the initial phase of the project, emphasis was put on the understanding of the nature of the type of event that SUBCOP sets out to counter; the suspected imminent attack from a suicide bomber. This effort included an interview tour around End Users in the project or associated to the project through the End User Advisory Board through which information was gathered about current strategies and procedures for intervening in PBIED events and the most urgent needs and gaps as perceived by the End Users. The gathering of background knowledge also included an analysis of historical data from occurred PBIED attacks and the associated factors such as bomber, bomb, environment and response. Until this date, two End User Advisory Board meetings have been held, to inform about the outcome of the SUBCOP work and to discuss the direction of the coming work.

The definition and development of the Toolbox is well underway, emanating as the software based Response Support Model (ReSuMe); The basis for the ReSuMe model has been prepared, and will be populated with SUBCOP tool specific data during the second project period. The ReSuMe model also includes the ethical aspects of PBIED intervention to aid the planning and implementation of a justifiable PBIED response.
As there are potentially ethical and legal constraints for the intervention to a PBIED (given the extreme risks of lethality for all parties concerned in a failed intervention and the risk of injuries to the suspect even in the case of a successful intervention), the ethical and legal considerations associated with such a response have been reviewed and documented. In addition, ethical guidelines for the tool development and research to take place in SUBCOP have been established.

According to plan, the suggested technical objectives for the Softer Methods, the Mitigation and Containment, and the Less Than Lethal Methods have been reassessed based on the experience gained form the End User requirements and historical event analysis, but also based on the outcome of a capability and gap analysis that all partners contributed to, and which surveyed the LLW tools that are available today and considered their utility to the new context, the PBIED intervention. Technical research and development in the above mentioned areas is now progressing.

Potential Impact:
SUBCOP sets out to increase the security to European Citizens and Security Forces through addressing the PBIED suicide terrorism threat. The goal of the project is to adapt the procedures for use of existing tools as well as bring forward new ones for the intervention to PBIED incidents.

It is necessary to bring forward new technologies and new operating procedures for the handling of PBIED events. Such capabilities need to be designed with the civilian society’s requirements in focus, keeping in mind the need to assure the safety of the public, the first responder and the rights of the individual. New SUBCOP technological capabilities (LLWs) that can be used in the handling of PBIED events are developed from ethical and moral requirements derived from the European Convention of Human Rights.

Ultimately, intervening Police Security Forces will be able to launch counteractions against suicide bombers that will prevent any harm from coming to the innocent bystanders, the first responder or the suspect, thus limiting the attractiveness of suicide attacks. The probability of capturing the bomber will be significantly increased. This brings advantages related to the information on the terrorist network behind the planned deed, both from gathering of information gained in interrogation of the perpetrator, and from the forensic investigations of the gathered materials. In addition, the introduction of tools, technologies and procedures, and the general awareness of the increased response capability, will likely in itself have a deterring effect on would-be bombers.

A project such as SUBCOP, involving key actors in the Security area, and having a substantial End User platform, will help in bringing awareness to the issues associated with PBIED handling, both at the higher National/European institutional/regulatory levels, within Security Organizations and Forces, and amongst the public. The special emphasis on the importance of and balance between ethical considerations and the need to accommodate the multiple methods by which to achieve less than lethal intervention will provide a new perspective for those operating in this field.
In a general perspective, the careful analysis on the requirements on PBIED handling and the performed GAP analysis will provide pinpointing of areas within the Less than lethal handling of PBIED’s where there is need for development of new capabilities and technologies, for the benefit of European Security Industry, European Police and Security Forces and European Citizens.