Manila casino attack: By attacking 'soft' targets, terror outfits want to derail tourism, create barriers of fear

At least 36 people were killed after a gunman burst into a Manila casino on Friday, firing shots and setting gaming tables on fire. This incident is indicative of a recent terror trend, of targeting people who are having fun – it makes the attack more sinister if the background is a fun place.

This is why city ports – modern airports that are cities onto themselves – as compared to plain functional airports of old, are such popular targets. Istanbul, Brussels, Paris; these are all popular tourist destinations and the fallout strikes directly at their bottom line as everything, including businesses, is adversely affected.

Smoke rising from the Resorts World Manila complex, Philippines after a terror attack. AP

Smoke rising from the Resorts World Manila complex, Philippines. AP

Whoever sits on the terror think-tank panel is pretty clear in their planning as with each such incident, a new dimension is added to the existing ripples of fear. In fact, ripples is putting it mildly, it’s more of a tidal wave.

Following the series of truck and car ploughings to intimidate travellers and citizens alike, the aim at present of terror outfits is clearly to strike at the tourism industry and create barriers of fear.

The next level in this grotesque plan is to hit at crowds in places of entertainment. The Manchester bombing of a concert was designed to frighten parents into seeing how vulnerable their young were. That the intelligence agencies are way behind the curve was clear from the fact that the killer had announced his intention on social platforms hours before the attack and no one twigged or reacted.

One of the reasons for missing the warning could well be the overload of information. So much data is being collected that the dross camouflages the red alerts and time is exhausted in the sifting. Also, since there are so many nut jobs out there, policing and investigating each one is a manpower and time intensive task.

Terror brain centres seem to have figured out that soft targets seem to provide them with bonus horror because women, children and the infirm can all be not just the collateral damage but the target themselves.

Countries hit in the tourism sector pay a major price. Daniel Wagner, managing director of Risk Cooperative and co-author of 'Global Risk Agility and Decision Making', wrote for Huffington Post"We have known for some time now that terrorist groups prefer to attack 'soft' targets because they usually lack proper security, and there are many more soft targets than hard targets. Hotels (Mombassa), restaurants/night clubs (Bali), museums (Tunis), places of worship (Istanbul), trains (Madrid) and buses (Israel) are targets of choice. This being the case, there should be greater effort made to implement at least minimal security for soft targets that have any reasonable appeal to terrorists."

Remember the Russian flight blown up over the resort of Sharm El Sheikh in 2015. The fallout showed a drop of as high as 70 percent in tourist traffic and even today, that delightful swathe of holiday ground is struggling to make a comeback.

The solution lies somewhere in improving vigilance and again, globally sharing data and not getting in the web of inter-agency rivalry and international politics.

The fact is that unlike the 1970s and 1980s, when terrorist activity was aircraft limited and para-military in texture, today it is 'random-random' – a catchphrase with deadly connotations. It doesn’t matter who gets caught in the crossfire, the more average the Joe the better.

Yes, we are on the backfoot. But how can you cover all the bases? Like any sensible person would say: by talking to each other.


Published Date: Jun 02, 2017 07:18 pm | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 07:19 pm


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