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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Jim Kouri
Bio: Jim Kouri
Date:  November 23, 2008
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Topic category:  Other/General

Terrorism: Sabotage and the Saboteur

by Jim Kouri

Sabotage, like any other weapon, offers its user an amplification and extension of his own strength, both to harm others and defend himself.Sabotage has the additional appeal of destroying much evidence of itself, and is usually hard to prove.

Sabotage offers the indigenous malcontent or the alien subversive the widest selection of targets, the greatest opportunities for conversion, and the most efficient results of any weapon available to him. The saboteur need not be thought of as a wild-eyed, shabbily-dressed foreigner out to bomb buildings. The man who hesitates shooting a competitor might have no qualms about burning that man's place of business.

Moreover, sabotage motivated by political or military objectives is usually planned only after the target has been assessed through industrial espionage and a detailed picture of vulnerabilities is obtained.

A saboteur may be anyone in an organization of the target industry, from a janitor in the machine shop to an administrative assistant in the executive suite, or even a top executive himself. He may work alone or be part of a well-organized group. Money may be his motive -- money from a foreign power, from unscrupulous business competitors, even money from a rival union trying to break into the plant or industry, or to incite a strike.

Hatred or bitterness, arising from personal or business grievances may move the saboteur. As in the case of espionage, blackmail and threats (especially in the case of those with relatives in unfriendly foreign nations) can urge the saboteur on.

Sabotage is often a handy way of hiding other crimes, especially for the thief or embezzler. During times of labor unrest, the danger of casual sabotage is increased because of the tension such a situation induces in all participants. Insurance companies have records of people burning their own factories to collect money. There are even some who are mentally ill -- called pyromaniacs -- who get the same kick out of setting fires that sex offenders get out of their acts of sexual assault and rape. Any of these people may be considered a saboteur.


There is a definite connection between corporate espionage and sabotage. Good espionage makes sabotage more effective by determining the factory or buildings involved, the processes of production, and the raw materials involved -- many of which can be be used in sabotage, especially flammable materials and explosives. Sabotage is a very inexpensive weapon when coupled with good espionage and intelligence, at least in terms of equipment and supplies.

As a military weapon, sabotage is almost more effective in repeated, small doses than in massive efforts, especially when the small incidents are disguised as accidents. This is also true in industrial infighting. It is easier to determine sabotage in cases of massive explosions than in cases of small attacks.

Police and security experts claim there are basically two types of sabotage aimed at disrupting industrial production: anti-personnel and anti-property. Anti-personnel methods include creating conditions which are dangerous to workers. At times, saboteurs may tamper with safety devices and equipment; or they may pollute or infect water and food supplies. Anti-property methods target the physical plant and equipment. The goal is to cripple production.

Both methods of sabotage require targets, and saboteurs usually choose their targets with two things in mind: objective and means. The ultimate objective is usually complete destruction of a facility or organization. The means to accomplish this destruction are myriad, including fire and explosives. The most attractive targets for saboteurs are those able to destroy themselves like gasoline tanks, ammunition dumps, flammable materials, and dangerous gases. Fire and explosives have the added advantage of destroying any evidence left by a saboteur and his accomplices.


In most jurisdictions, police detectives will investigate possible sabotage if and when they are notified by fire marshals who investigate causes of explosions and fires. If the marshal suspects arson or sabotage, she will notify police detectives of her determination. Once classified an intentional act, the investigation moves from the fire department or emergency services department to the police department. The larger police agencies have trained arson and explosion detectives(this writer's uncle was assigned to arson and explosion in the New York Police Department).

The fire marshals turn over physical evidence to the police along with their written reports. The police, in turn, begin their manhunt. Are there occasional jurisdictional conflicts between police and fire investigators? You bet! But most cases will find cooperation between members of these agencies.

In sabotage cases, the detectives will first look at the motive for the destruction. Were there disgruntled employees? Did the facilities management receive threatening phone calls, notes, or e-mail? Was the crime the act of a professional or the handiwork of a rank amateur?

Who has access to the facility after hours? Are there security logs and access control procedures in place? Remember the three elements to any crime: Motive, Means and Opportunity.

Jim Kouri
Chief of Police Magazine (Contributing Editor)

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Biography - Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com,, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.

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Copyright 2008 by Jim Kouri
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