In Police Analysis and Planning for Homicide Bombings, author John W. Ellis provides a superior foundation for security professionals of any stripe who seek to prevent, or prepare to respond to, terrorist bombings.
A common term in counterterrorism circles is “homicide bombing,” describing a terrorist bombing that is meant to cause casualties whether or not the attacker commits suicide. The term, which Ellis uses throughout, is viewed as more accurate than suicide bomber.
Ellis first addresses the legal issues of concern to many first responders, discussing U.S. Constitutional law and United Nations resolutions regarding acts of terrorism, rights, use of force, and professionalism. Notably, Ellis defines the term “freedom fighter” and examines the grey area between acts of war and acts of terrorism.
Ellis moves on to address what a security professional needs to know about preparing for and responding to homicide bombings. Of greatest interest are the types of bombs used, trends, dynamics of blasts, and the effects of bomb placement. This information could benefit security plans at existing facilities, and it should be incorporated in the design of new buildings. Highly technical material is presented in an easy-to-understand manner.
The text is not only exhaustively researched, it is also written from the perspective of someone who has “been there” and “done that.” Ellis, a veteran police officer, retired in 2004 as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, after a 29-year career as a military police officer, including tours in operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. He has also been a deputy U.S. Marshal and private investigator.
After reading this book, a security professional should be able to plan for a homicide bombing and avoid or mitigate damage through planning. This book is highly recommended as an instructional text for law enforcement, first responders, and other security professionals.
Reviewer: Terry V. Cochran, CPP, is an independent security consultant providing full spectrum security analysis and management, training, and services to government and industry. Cochran is based in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a member of ASIS International.
Security Management Magazine, October 2000, Page 108
"This textbook comprises a technical overview of the multitude of problems facing police agencies and other types of emergency response planners when it comes to weapons of mass destruction. Author John W. Ellis has done a fine job of gathering the necessary references to enable a reader to move even further into the study of this phenomenon."
"Ellis discusses the three components of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-chemical, biological and radiological-individually. These discussions include general terrorist assessments, vulnerability assessments, and preventive, defensive, and response actions. The sections on policy and legal and operational background are particularly well researched, but because of the complexity of the material, they are sometimes difficult to follow, so they require a second reading."
"Perhaps the most interesting reading is the historical and tactical review of WMD usage in the past six centuries. As Ellis points out, in many cases, history does repeat itself."
"One of the few criticisms is the word-for-word redundancy of some of the text. General material that could have been consolidated appears three separate times, under each component of WMD."
"Overall, the explanations of terminology and the reference appendices alone make the text worth the investment in time and cost for police and emergency management planners."
Reviewer, Robert A. Yound, CPP, of the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Protective Service, manages the physical security program for the Manhattan Federal Civic Center in New York City. He is a PhD candidate in business administration and a member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Commercial Real Estate.
"Commonly considered the two most devastating acts of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil, the Oklahoma City disaster and the attack on the World Trade Center both resulted from vehicular bombings. These types of attacks are clearly a serious threat."
"In Police Analysis and Planning for Vehicular Bombings, John W. Ellis addresses law enforcement's threat assessment of vulnerability and defense to vehicle bombs. In the initial chapters, Ellis examines the difference between the military and civilian responses to a car or other vehicular bombings, U.S. counterterrorism policy, and the legal basis for responding. Later chapters move on to strategies for response."
"Ellis does an excellent job of explaining the physical properties and effects of vehicle bombs and how these effects differ depending upon terrain and nearby physical structures. A historical review of bombing incidents worldwide follows, through which Ellis develops a generic profile of the sequence of events leading to a vehicle bomb attack. This profile can assist tactical planners in developing defensive strategies against vehicle bombs."
"Next, some specific strategies and techniques for responding to such bombings are laid out. They include planning the response, organizing and activating the response forces, and controlling the response."
"Well researched and illustrated, this book is an excellent resource for police, emergency planners, and administrators tasked with defending against and responding to vehicle bombs."
Reviewer, Donald P. Brigham, Esq. CPP, a former FBI agent, is managing director or a Southern California security consulting firm that specializes in antiterrorism, threat assessments, investigaitons, security law, and crisis management for government, business and industry. He is a member of ASIS.
Amazon.com: Customer Review, August 16, 2001: 5 stars.
"Reading the headlines, you will think, 'He was right.' "
"In this book, and its companion, Mr. Ellis has compiled an extensive work. He provides both the broad overview and the specific details, all written from first hand experience gained overdecades. The author's police, military and civilian training gives him the unique perspective to write knowledgably in this highly specialized area. Expect to be shocked by his well thought out and clearly explained conclusions. Stunned by the implications, I sometimes had to put the books aside, realizing that he is exactly correct. From over-pressure calculation and effect, to Khobar Towers, fine reference material for your personal library."
Reviewer, Mike Franklin, Metro AtlantaPMO Security Services, Wichita, KS