Juegos olímpicos y amenazas asimétricas (En inglés)

Following the 1972 Olympic Games, the issue ofprotection for this international athletic event has become the core item onthe security agenda of the hosting countries. A historic landmark were theOlympic Games in Munich adding another important aspect to be seriouslyconsidered– that of building a reliable mechanism for protection from anypossible terrorist activities.

This development has elevated the Olympic Games to adifferent status, since the high profile they enjoy -in terms of publicity- hasenormously increased the propaganda value of any terrorist attack. To thisextent, fears of a repetition of the 1972 attack by any terrorist organization,by a separatist movement or any individual with a grudge have been haunting theOlympic Games ever since.

I. TheChanges in the Use of Violence Tactics from Terrorism.

The years following the Munich events, the activitiesof the terrorist organizations and groups acquired an unprecedented momentum.This was mainly a result of the worldwide publicity given to the 1972 terroristattack.[1]To this extent, the risks affiliated with international events, as are theOlympic Games, were considered relatively small, although they were viewed as aunique opportunity for any kind of terrorist organization or dissident group tovoice their dissatisfaction with a country or a situation. As a result, thehosting countries have included security as a high priority item in theiragenda for the Olympic Games.

            Despite the historicalbackground of terrorist activity during the Olympic Games dating back to 1972,there are no significant incidents to be mentioned thereafter. Nevertheless,the constant threat of terrorism in the 1990’s has been critical to theinternational community. During this decade the world had not only witnesseddramatic political changes in the international scene, but also considerablechanges in terrorist tactics and strategies. 

            This illustrates theunique ability of terrorism to persist and continue activities, includingincidents of strategy alterations, which were not witnessed previously. Theseincidents are basically multiplying at a threatening pace. A significant numberof incidents with a high death count during the last decade, represent adeparture from the modus operandithat the international community had been accustomed to.

Nevertheless, only a few incidents revealed the use ofnon-conventional weapons, as was the Tokyo subway case, and the OklahomaFederal Building bombing. Most of the known cases repeated the commonlyrecognized tactics of terrorist actions, such as bombings, assassinations,armed assaults, hijackings etc. As it was stressed “They made only incremental adjustments or added new twists, ratherthan invent new tactics, although they did abandon some tactics that increasedsecurity made more difficult or that government response made more dangerous”.[2]

            In earlier years terroristorganizations remained within their generally common or well known ‘field ofaction’ and terrorism on the overall was a low-tech activity. Following the endof the war in Afghanistan, a long list of warriors (a by-product of the longwar with the Soviets) contributed to the changes in terrorism. They started toappear and participate in all kinds of terrorist activities, while at the sametime were connected to criminal operations. The international communitygradually became aware of the unique qualities of these new ‘terrorist’fighters. The Afghanistan war mercenaries became a menace, while at the sametime remaining a ‘curious’ welcomed adjutant to civil conflicts where differentinterests were at stake.[3]

During the wars in the Balkans, the appearance ofextremists was greeted by certain international players as ‘freedom fighting’.Although these ‘freedom fighters’ occasionally used terrorist tactics, theinternational community did not seem to be alerted by the potential dangers.[4]

Within this context, religious terrorism has gonethrough stages of evolution, stages of altering its strategic and tacticalways, stages of remaining within certain borders, boundaries or geographicalareas, finally reaching the global stage.

Nevertheless, in a few cases terrorist activityincluded a substantial degree of scientific knowledge or expertise, as was theTokyo case, thus promoting anxiety about future threats from unconventionalweapons, far more deadly than explosives.

The changes that occurred in terrorism are connectedto the political ones, primarily those resulting from civil strife or war.These changes have cultivated a new breed of terrorists that do not haveanything in common with the older type, for instance, their Europeancounterparts. The basic differences appear, either in their characteristics,their philosophy, their ideology, or even in their tactical approach orphilosophical goal.

Even if we accept the fact that internationalterrorism has undergone major changes, we would still be far from analyzing orevaluating the complex security dilemma that nations will confront in thefuture regarding the potential of terrorist attacks.

II. Terrorism as ‘Asymmetric Threat’.

A number of formerly considered stable countries areexperiencing religious, ethnic and other internal or domestic conflicts withthe manifestation of an increasing number of separatist movements trying tocarve up larger countries into smaller and more focused ethnic areas. Some ofthese conflicts are ancient and have been the cause of fighting or conflict forhundreds of years. Others are more recent and the result of demographic shifts,changing political regimes, or religious and even ideological shifts.

            The terrorist attacksintend not only to ‘punish’ the country that they take place in, but also toshow a wider audience that there is no safe place on earth. A massive terroristattack –anywhere in the world- reveals the tactical ability of the perpetrator,the ideological extremism and the vulnerability of the target. The ‘asymmetry’as portrayed by the terrorist organization intends to avoid the strength of theopponent and attack its vulnerabilities. The unpredictability of the attackremains one of the strongest ‘weapons’ of the perpetrator.

The shock of the terrorist attacks of September 11,2001, has not only altered international understanding concerning futureterrorist threats, but has also contributed to a new awar
eness of thehistorical capabilities of terrorism tore-form and re-appear, when it isleast expected. Even before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorists haddeveloped strategies and tactics that exposed, revealed or indicated theappearance of these new threats.[5]

Prominent examples, among others, are the incidentsagainst:

·the World Trade Center (1993),

·the US Military Base in SaudiArabia (1996),

·the US Embassies in Kenya andTanzania in Africa (1998),

·the USS Cole in Aden (2000),as well as,

·the Tokyo and the Oklahomacases. These incidents, in a sense, have prepared  or alerted the international community toanticipate the developing strategies from the ‘terrorist organizations’ in thefuture.

Although the focus on the tactical and operationalaspects of terrorism remained within the commonly recognized conceptualapproaches, the state/national responses did not accelerate to meet thechallenge. The impact of the ‘asymmetric threat’ of 9/11 outlined the previous‘denial’ to meet and respond to the threat, although information for theforthcoming attack was abundant. “Therelease of the Congressional Report on the September 11 attacks is theculmination of a protracted, occasionally bumpy and often secret investigationinto the intelligence failing that led to them”.[6]

            Even though theterrorist attacks of 9/11 denoted a connection to the situation in the MiddleEast, there is still no clear relationship between the Palestinian issue andthe September 11, 2001, incident.[7]Although, during the 1990’s, the terrorist incidents had their roots primarilyin the Middle East, and the new threat was established beyond any reasonabledoubt, the failure to define the issue and propose solutions seems to haveeventually backfired. ????? Mary check this sentence.????  Do you mean: any effort to define the issue and propose solutions seems to haveeventually backfired. OR,  the failure todefine the issue and propose solutions is evident. ) !!!!!!!!

            The new asymmetricthreats confronting the international community, including the Islamic states –such as the terrorist attacks in Bali (October 2002) and Indonesia (August 2003)-illustrated the widening range of ‘potential targets’ in the near future forterrorist organizations.  In thiscontext, considering the political and ethnic internal disintegration caused byfaltering economic circumstances in several parts of Southwest Asia, the FarEast, Africa, South America and elsewhere in the world, one becomes aware ofthe combustible mix that is certain to fuel future conflicts in a number ofareas of the world in the foreseeable future.[8]

Usually the most vulnerable element in the case ofterrorist attacks is the general public, the citizen, the tourists etc. Thisdisregard for human life appears to be one of the basic trends of ‘newterrorism’. These changes in the structure and strategies of terroristorganizations or networks of terror, pose new dangers since they have shiftedfrom the traditional modus operandiform of action.

The growth of ‘religious’ terrorism adds a newdimension to the destructive ability of motivated terrorism. Within this basictrend of thought the differences between civilizations and cultures do notautomatically reinforce violence. Violence has roots mostly in political andeconomic differences, which are immensely distant from or beyond any culturethat would produce violent behavior. In addition, the network quality of the‘new terrorist’ is a phenomenon that can have multiplying effects, as theradical methods they employ are fascinating means for a number of persons with or without a certaincause.

Extreme violence, a phenomenon of the new age, hasbecome a form of ideology of the Muslims, who would nevertheless, “see the thoughts and actions of theterrorists of September 11 as a perversion of Islam rather than an expressionof it”.[9]Religion belongs to the category of the strongest form of ideology, and thepolitical expression of religious faith has historically proved to be a strongmotivating factor.

            It has been stated,however, that not ‘all terrorism is ideologically driven’.[10]Although ideology can be evaluated and scrutinized by the opponent, an ideologyof opposition ‘in general’ is not easily understood or apprehended. “The religious imperative for terrorism isthe most important defining characteristic of terrorist activity today. Thecharacteristics, justifications and mind-sets of religious and quasi-religiousterrorists suggests that they will be much more likely, than their secularcounterparts to use weapons of mass destruction – that is, nuclear, biologicalor chemical weapons”.[11]The use of weapons of mass destruction and large scale loss of human life inthe events of the Tokyo underground nerve gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo cult,the New York World Trade Center and the Oklahoma Federal Building have changedthe longstanding basic concepts about terrorism.

            A future ideological opponentmight employ non-conventional weapons or conduct attacks against military orcivilian targets, using selective objectives and at the same time choose themoment of an attack in order to maximize his strengths and benefits. The‘revenge ideology’ that the ‘new terrorist’ is using could easily justify anyform of mass killing action, as they do not abide by a state, a concept, oreven one particular leader.

The reoccurring expansion of this form of violenceindicates that mass violence will continue to occur and take place in differentparts of the world and in many different ways than one could possibly imagine.So far the effectiveness of ‘asymmetric attacks’ against either powerful andadvanced societies or even less advanced, have led to the formulation of  new models necessary to deal with theseemerging threats.

III. The Security Preparations for the Olympic Gamesof 2004 in Athens.

Thesuccess of the Olympic Games has become for Greece a ‘National Aspiration’,which is mutually pursued by the political leadership and the Greek people. Thesuccessful execution of the games will benefit Greece in many ways andsignificantly raise the country’s image and identity abroad. Therefore, ofmajor importance is to successfully handle the security factor, a key featureof the Games, since the country will be judged on this aspect, possibly withexcessive zeal.[12]

Thepreparations of the Greek authorities for the 2004 Olympic Games are eventuallyassuming a significant momentum and proceeding with accelerated speed, despitethe occasional negative publicity in the foreign media. This publicity hasalerted Greek public opinion -and to a certain extent international opinion- tothe issue of the police’s ability to guarantee the safety of the athletes andthe international visitors and to protect the international standing,reputation or position of Greece.

Notwithstandingthis somehow ‘negative’ climate, the Olympic Games’ security plan has beenpublished by the press, consisting of the following four interrelated plans:[13]

1.Strategic Plan: This covers the provision ofsecurity– in the widest possible sense during the Olympic Games– for VIPs,athletes, and the sports grounds. It deals with anti-terrorism measures,specific measures against criminal activity in general, measures for providingsecurity for transport in general and for the transport of athletes and VIPsoutside the sports grounds, such as in operas, cinemas and museums. It deals,in short with recognizing, identifying and detecting all possible dangers andpreparing model scenarios on how to avoid them.

2.Directional Plan: This contains instructionsfor the security personnel – police officers, members of the armed forces andtrained volunteers. It entails, for instance, training and instructions on howto react, respond or use special equipment, if a bomb is discovered under avehicle. Major importance is given to the points of entrance to the sportsgrounds of the Olympic Games, including special magnetic doors able to detectweapons and explosives. There will be specially protected entrances for thegeneral public, the officials and the media in order to avoid problems such asthose that arose in Australia, when a few people tried to grasp the Olympicflame. Determined as absolutely necessary, in order to achieve maximumprotection, is the immediate notification to the Greek authorities by allforeign representations and all their members of all their movements. The chainof command of the security personnel is defined and clarified. Two persons willbe in charge on every Olympic ground: one will be in charge of theorganizational committee and the other will be in charge of security. They willbe in constant communication, and the individual in charge of security will bein constant touch with headquarters.

3.Tactical Plan: This includes thecoordination of all involved mechanisms, such as athletes’ transportation andfire protection where the games are in process, the replacement of vehicles,safe movement or transportation of the injured or wounded to the hospitals,etc. In order to avoid problems, the scenarios include every possible elementor the slightest detail.  All hospitalswill be on duty throughout the Olympic Games.

4.Operational Plan: This plan is considered themost crucial, and deals with the security measures depending on the ‘target’.The measures foreseen cover all the water games, the press villages, and allthe grounds in which the athletes will be moving or circulating in. This planincludes all the last-minute movements for those involved in the securityapparatus, such as the police, the army and the volunteers. It requiresnon-stop training and the constant formulation of possible or probablescenarios, either on paper or mock cases.

The planning of the 2004 Olympic Games is a majorchallenge and simultaneously a headache for the Greek security services, buteven more so for the Greek government, which is determined to have the safestOlympics ever. Many foreign experts and security services have visited Greeceand participated in the Greek authorities’ training procedures. For instance,ATHENS 2004 has hired, as consultants/advisors, a number of security expertsfrom the past host cities– Sydney and Salt Lake—for the security planningoperations.

The Greek government has invested 600 million euros inthe security infrastructure and the necessary hardware. This is by far thelargest budget throughout Olympic history. This sum does not includestaffing/personnel, training and operational costs.[14]During the Olympic Games over 45,000 security personnel will be working toprovide total security on a 24-hour basis.

The three basic Security Agencies are:

·The Hellenic Police which created a special police unit, the“Olympic Games Security Division” (OGSD) in order to unify all security forcesunder a single, responsible command structure.

·The “Secutity Division” established by Athens 2004, having asits principal responsibility to support the work of OGSD as well as tocoordinate and integrate the OGSD plans with those of the functional areas ofATHENS 2004.

·The Olympic Advisory Group (OAG), the seven-nation task forcewith extensive experience in security planning of previous Olympic Games andother large athletic events, also working with ATHENS 2004 and OGSD. The sevennations comprising the task force are Australia, France, Germany, Israel,Spain, the UK and the US. The OAG meets regularly to discuss planning,technology and training issues. The OGSD organizes operational readinessexercises and specialized training with the contribution of government agenciesfrom the above mentioned countries.

According tothe above, almost 50,000 persons are being trained to providing security at the2004 Olympics: 17-20,000 persons from the police; 7,000 persons from the army;7,000 firemen and port police; 7,000 volunteers; and 5,000 private securityexperts.[15] Thisnumber includes the 3-4,000 secret service agents, as well as the securityguards of foreign athletes, who will be allowed to carry their own weapons (thelatter are not trained in Greece).[16]The Australian authorities, as was noted in the press, did not accept the samedemand (that foreign bodyguards may carry arms) by the Israeli and the Americansecret services for the Olympic Games in Sydney in the year 2000.[17]

The General command will rest with the Chief of Policeand the General Director of Security for the Olympic Games. All security bodieswill be under their command, and the army will function administratively and incivilian clothing.[18]

Media Feedback and Effects

            The 9/11 2001 eventshave altered the principal plans concerning security, and new issues ofimportance have been placed on the agenda. The issue of ‘asymmetric threats’has become part of the security dialogue, and the probability of suicideairplane attacks, electronic terrorism and biochemical warfare are all part ofthe new preparations. The Greek approach for the Olympic Games’ security isbased on the Atlanta and Sydney models, naturally taking into account theparticularities of the situation in Greece.

The transportation of athletes is considered to be aprimary issue in security preparations. However, since not all athletes comefrom ‘high risk’ countries, there will be different security measures for theirmovement in and out of the grounds, based on the high-risk factor. Otherparticipants, such as volunteers, drivers and required personnel will bechecked and undergo a screening process.

            Preparing for theOlympic Games is one of the most difficult tasks imaginable for any governmenthosting them. Since the Munich Olympics in 1972, all states have altered theirsecurity mechanisms in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks. The 9/11suggests that no preparation is ever perfect or absolute, but the Greekapproach has combined international cooperation and expertise in order toprevent problems as much as possible. Furthermore, the Minister of ForeignAffairs has suggested that an international ‘cease fire’ be called during theOlympic Games, as was the custom in ancient Greece.  The Greek government is alert to the fact thatit will be under heavy international scrutiny and urgently wants to prevent anypossible calamity.

            Negative publicity,especially from the US and the British press, on the alleged persistence ofterrorist problems in Greece, has enraged the Greek citizens, as well as theOrganizers of the Games and the government. Notably, such publications becamemore offensive in tone after the official announcement that Greece would hostthe Olympic Games in 2004. For example, on 14 May, 2000, the American magazine Time claimed that the visitors to Athensin 2004 might mistake Greece for Afghanistan; on 24 June, 2000, the British Sunday Times accused the government ofcollaborating with the terrorist organization November 17; on 23 June, 2000,the New York Times hosted the opinionof an ex-CIA chief, who wondered if members of the November 17 would be on thewelcoming committee for the foreign athletes; and so on.

This kind of publicity was subdued in 2002 when themembers of the November 17 terrorist group were arrested. Their trial is stillin process since last March. Nevertheless, there was an article published inthe US suggesting that Islamic terrorists are hiding in Athens aiming toactivate ‘sleeper cells’ during the Games.[19]This publication obliged the State Department to deny affiliation with theauthor, declaring that close cooperation between Greek and American authoritieswas continuous.[20]

The Organizers of 2004 and the Greek governmentresponded to the new publications by submitting that the safety and security ofthe athletes was their highest priority.[21]Furthermore, this kind of negative publicity concerning the probability of aterrorist attack during the Olympic Games does not protect the country that ishosting them, but in a sense it functions as a call, an invocation or aninvitation to future terrorists to act on or respond to the Pressexpectations. 

IV. The Possibility of TerroristActivities in the 2004 Olympic Games.

            Terrorism is animportant security issue that may cause certain negative consequences and aserious blow to a country’s profile and occasional behavior either on anational or an international scale. During major national events that have aninternational appeal this behavior assumes a magnitude of great importance.

The examples of previously held Olympic Games, haveproved that even mock attacks can cause major disturbances to the authorities,the athletes, the public and the international community that is watching.Furthermore, the political changes that have occurred internationally and themomentum that terrorism has achieved especially after the 9/11 incidents,suggest that terrorist attacks will continue to be part of the future.

            Domestic terrorismactivity during the Games is highly unlikely, though it is impossible to predictthe future. Since the Greek terrorist organizations are courting the sympathyof the people, they will abstain from any activity that will cause them to beeven more ‘disliked’. It should be noted that the Greeks are extremely proud ofhaving the Olympic Games back in their country of origin. The Greek peoplecherish the very old and strong tradition of sportsmanship.

Nevertheless, new and smaller organizations,splinter groups, or ‘admirers’ of the older generation terrorist organizations,might appear with activity that aims to damage the authorities’ securityprofile for the safety of the Games. This short of annoying behavior is almostimpossible to predict and difficult to stop. Previous experience points to thedifficulty of stopping a determined terrorist, although threat assessmentincludes even the vaguest possibilities.

The surprise element that new terrorism isemploying, enhances the concern of the government hosting an internationalevent. The unexpected attack remainsthe strongest point of terrorist actions, and undeniably the strongest headacheof the security forces. For instance, an attack against another city or atourist attraction (Greece being a country that welcomes 12 million touristsper year, a number that will dramatically increase during the Olympics) orpublic utility installations could be considered a threat against the safety ofthe Games.

 The heightened concern about the possibilityof some kind of terrorist attack at the Olympics has highlighted the threatsfrom unconventional weapons that can be far more deadly than explosives. Theprevious Olympics were well protected by the host states, and the
precautionsincluded the possibility against the use “ofunconventional weaponry such as poison gas, germ weapons or even a nucleardevice”.[22]

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