Radicalised individuals are hard to detect and they will keep coming, so the public must play their part to prevent terror attacks by “lone wolves”.
But this can only be achieved through the cooperation between the public and the various agencies, said Certified Counter Terrorism Practitioner (CCTP) board director Yaniv Peretz.
He told The New Paper at the Interpol World Exhibition at Suntec City yesterday: “These lone wolves, there is no intelligence about these guys.
“Most of the time, they slip through the cracks, so the public and private sector need to play a big role.”
The exhibition, which ended yesterday, brought together stakeholders such as law enforcement, academia and security professionals to discuss topics such as cybercrime and terrorism.
The Singapore-based CCTP, which helps agencies on terrorism prevention, detection and deterrence, organised a conference on terrorism and profiling.
Mr Peretz warned about the organised nature of terror attacks and their high success rate. According to him, more than 90 per cent of attacks from self-radicalised lone wolves are successful, which can be attributed to the specific and goal-oriented messages and instructions by terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Deadly attacks in public places, such as at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015, the truck attack in Berlin last year and the similar London bridge attack last month, are designed to spread mass chaos and get media attention, said Mr Peretz.
He said the radicalised individuals who carry out such attacks “know exactly who to target and when to target”.
To detect these lone wolves, one cannot simply look out for marginalised people who keep to themselves, he said.
In other words, lone wolves are not necessarily loners.
Rather, it is important to have sound knowledge of the community and understand its regular behaviour, so those who exhibit “irregular behaviour” will stick out.
The tell-tale signs could include body language, loitering, making unusual requests, asking strange questions and testing security limits, he said.
Mr Peretz applauded the setting up of bollards and security barriers in public spaces here to prevent vehicular attacks, as announced by Second Minister for Home Affairs Desmond Lee in Parliament earlier this week.
But he also warned that counter-terrorism measures have to move beyond being reactionary.
“The terrorists are always ahead of us. Why? Because we are fighting a war of the past. We implement measures after the attack has happened,” he said.
“What Singapore is doing is excellent, but the terrorists are always learning new ways to execute an attack, so we have to get ahead of them.”