Citgo Security Chief Describes Private Sector's Antiterror Role

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The private and public sectors share responsibilities for the antiterrorism effort, each with specific roles, the head of corporate security for one of the world's largest oil companies told members of ASIS International's Houston chapter last week. While military and law enforcement are charged with the common defense, the private sector must bring strong prevention, detection and documentation measures to the effort, said Del Mitchell, corporate security director for Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Speaking at the monthly ASIS Houston chapter meeting, Mitchell gave a sobering assessment of the existential terrorist threat to critical infrastructure in the U.S., citing the importance of layered security and hardened facilities, physical and electronic protection, and accurate and reliable reporting systems. While acknowledging that new government demands for increased security raise costs, Mitchell, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, emphasized the importance of compliance with Department of Homeland Security initiatives such the Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) program and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), as well as provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA).

Although Mitchell did not go into specific technology solutions, he implied that effective security will require functional interoperability of systems within the enterprise that will, in a major emergency, extend out to larger management, communications and reporting systems shared by private and public security, defense and emergency response agencies in the vicinity.

Still, he said, much of the private sector antiterror role lies in effective identification of threats, both to physical and cyber infrastructure. TWIC, for instance, strengthens identity management of port personnel. CFATS sets rules for managing dangerous chemicals and detecting accidental spills or deliberate tampering with equipment.        

Mitchell gave good marks to the energy sector in Houston for its response so far, stating that area companies "were doing pretty good." But he did not mince words about the threat that terrorism poses to the Port of Houston and other port facilities throughout the country, which DHS has identified as strategic targets. Houston itself is a center for international terrorist activity, he said. Central communications for the 2008 Mumbai bombings were served out of Houston. Operational planning was done in Houston for a coordinated assault against U.S. oil interests in the Middle East--attacks that were thwarted by the arrests in Saudi Arabia of some 113 Al Qaeda militants in March.

Islamic Groups Pose Greatest Threat

The primary international terrorism threat--and and most organized--comes from radical Islamic groups, Mitchell said. 

"Al Qaeda is the most significant threat to strategic infrastructure and it will try to conduct operations in the U.S. with increasing frequency." Hamas and Hezbollah also have global reach, with cells throughout the world and funding from the Iranian and Syrian governments, he added.

Defense and legal strategies must also adjust to the fact that two major Al Qaeda leaders, Anwar al-Awaqi and Adam Gadahan were born in the U.S. and have dual U.S. citizenship. Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter who was in contact with al-Awaqi, was U.S.-born as well.

Domestic terror threats include radical activists, such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front and the Army of God, usually with a political agenda. However, the domestic threat also includes neo-Nazis, such as the Aryan Brotherhood, and other gangs, which do heavy recruiting inside prisons.

The third type of threat comes from the "lone wolf," Mitchell said, such as the Oklahoma City bomber, the Unibomber, and Joe Stack, the disgruntled engineer who flew a small plane into a building in Austin, Texas that houses local IRS offices.
The private and public sectors share responsibilities for the antiterrorism effort, each with specific roles, the head of corporate security for one of the world's largest oil companies told members of ASIS International's Houston chapter last week. While military and law enforcement are charged with the common defense, the private sector must bring strong prevention, detection and documentation measures to the effort, said Del Mitchell, corporate security director for Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Speaking at the monthly ASIS Houston chapter meeting, Mitchell gave a sobering assessment of the existential terrorist threat to critical infrastructure in the U.S., citing the importance of layered security and hardened facilities, physical and electronic protection, and accurate and reliable reporting systems. While acknowledging that new government demands for increased security raise costs, Mitchell, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, emphasized the importance of compliance with Department of Homeland Security initiatives such the Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) program and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), as well as provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA).

Although Mitchell did not go into specific technology solutions, he implied that effective security will require functional interoperability of systems within the enterprise that will, in a major emergency, extend out to larger management, communications and reporting systems shared by private and public security, defense and emergency response agencies in the vicinity.

Still, he said, much of the private sector antiterror role lies in effective identification of threats, both to physical and cyber infrastructure. TWIC, for instance, strengthens identity management of port personnel. CFATS sets rules for managing dangerous chemicals and detecting accidental spills or deliberate tampering with equipment.        

Mitchell gave good marks to the energy sector in Houston for its response so far, stating that area companies "were doing pretty good." But he did not mince words about the threat that terrorism poses to the Port of Houston and other port facilities throughout the country, which DHS has identified as strategic targets. Houston itself is a center for international terrorist activity, he said. Central communications for the 2008 Mumbai bombings were served out of Houston. Operational planning was done in Houston for a coordinated assault against U.S. oil interests in the Middle East--attacks that were thwarted by the arrests in Saudi Arabia of some 113 Al Qaeda militants in March.

Islamic Groups Pose Greatest Threat

The primary international terrorism threat--and and most organized--comes from radical Islamic groups, Mitchell said. 

"Al Qaeda is the most significant threat to strategic infrastructure and it will try to conduct operations in the U.S. with increasing frequency." Hamas and Hezbollah also have global reach, with cells throughout the world and funding from the Iranian and Syrian governments, he added.

Defense and legal strategies must also adjust to the fact that two major Al Qaeda leaders, Anwar al-Awaqi and Adam Gadahan were born in the U.S. and have dual U.S. citizenship. Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter who was in contact with al-Awaqi, was U.S.-born as well.

Domestic terror threats include radical activists, such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front and the Army of God, usually with a political agenda. However, the domestic threat also includes neo-Nazis, such as the Aryan Brotherhood, and other gangs, which do heavy recruiting inside prisons.

The third type of threat comes from the "lone wolf," Mitchell said, such as the Oklahoma City bomber, the Unibomber, and Joe Stack, the disgruntled engineer who flew a small plane into a building in Austin, Texas that houses local IRS offices.

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