Welcome!

News Feed Item

Mineta Transportation Institute Experts Analyze Terrorism Bombing of Nigerian Bus Terminal

Jenkins and Butterworth explain why public transport is a lucrative target

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During the morning rush hour on April 14, a car bomb containing an estimated 500-800 pounds of explosives blew up at the Nyanya District bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria. Brian Michael Jenkins and Bruce R. Butterworth, terrorism experts from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), explained its significance for the rest of the world and put the facts into a larger perspective.

Logo

"The bomb obliterated four large buses filled with passengers and many smaller buses," said Mr. Jenkins, director of MTI's National Transportation Safety and Security Center and a terrorism expert. "The latest casualty figures as of April 15 put the death toll at 75, with 141 wounded, but the number of fatalities is expected to rise. That makes this the deadliest bomb attack on Nigeria's capital and the first terrorist bombing in Abuja since December 2011, when a bomb was detonated at a Catholic church, killing 41 people."

In August 2011, another vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated at the United Nations headquarters in the city. That bomb left 23 dead.  

Officials blame the Islamist group Boko Haram

Mr. Jenkins said that, although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the latest attack, authorities blamed it on Boko Haram, an Islamist group that seeks to establish an independent Muslim state in the North of Nigeria. The official name of the group is the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, but it is generally referred to as Boko Haram, he said, which in the Hausa language translates roughly as "Western Education Is a Sin." Boko Haram was founded in 2002 but began its terrorist campaign in 2009. 

The political upheavals across North Africa, in particular, Libya's civil war, destabilized the entire region and exacerbated local conflicts. Boko Haram escalated its campaign. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the past four years.  Including casualties from the bus terminal bombing, more than 1,500 people have died in Boko Haram attacks thus far in 2014.

Most of Boko Haram's attacks were directed against police stations, but it has increasingly attacked civilian targets, including public transportation, markets, and churches. The group opposes the education of girls and has also carried out a number of deadly attacks on schools. On the same day as the Abuja bombing, Boko Haram kidnapped 129 students from a girl's school in Nigeria.

This was a message to Nigeria and the world.

"The Abuja bombing belies the Nigerian government's claim that its recent military offensive succeeded in confining Boko Haram to a remote area in northern Nigeria," said Mr. Butterworth, a research associate and terrorism expert with MTI. "That Boko Haram was still in town, able to carry out attacks in the nation's capital, was no doubt the message the group wanted to convey."

That reminder may also be aimed at a broader world audience as the World Economic Forum prepares to hold an international summit in Nigeria in May, he said. Upcoming major international events prompt terrorist attacks, as was seen in the Volgograd bombings just weeks before the scheduled opening of the Sochi Olympics. (See MTI Perspective, By the Numbers: Russia's Terrorists Increasingly Target Transportation .)

The attack ranks high for lethality

"Looking at all attacks on public surface transportation systems worldwide since 1970, the Abuja bombing was the 12th most lethal attack," said Mr. Jenkins. "When comparing similar attack methods, it was the ninth most lethal attack. This means looking only at attacks by terrorists (putting aside deranged persons or ordinary criminals) and considers only those attacks involving a single attack method and not a combination of methods, such as a derailment followed by an armed assault to finish off trapped passengers."

He noted that, in terms of attacks involving explosives, it was the seventh most lethal bombing. Finally, looking at the attack in terms of fatalities per explosive device used, it was the fifth most lethal.  Interestingly, one of the four most lethal attacks was a 1987 VBIED bombing against at an open-air bus station in Sri Lanka that killed 105 people and injured 200. All figures come from MTI's proprietary database of terrorist attacks against surface transportation around the world.

Nigerian bus stations are common targets

Bus station attacks with high fatalities feature heavily in Boko Haram's terrorist campaign. Three attacks on open-air bus stations killed a total of 116 people, an average of 39 fatalities per attack.

MTI's database records 12 of those attacks in Nigeria. (The data does not count 34 attacks on pipelines, which usually but not always cause no casualties.) All but one of these involved buses, bus stations, or bus stops. These 11 attacks combined killed 146 and injured 215, an average of 13.3 fatalities and 19.5 injuries per attack. Fatalities per attack are four times higher than the worldwide average for bus targets, which is 3.2, and over five times higher than the combined worldwide average for bus, train, road and passenger ferry targets, which is 2.5.

Jihadist attacks are more lethal

Mr. Butterworth noted, "Jihadist groups continue to view public surface transportation targets as lucrative ones offering terrorists the high body counts they seek. Attacks by Islamist extremist groups worldwide – including those not just following al Qaeda's jihadist terminology, but also those dedicated to Salafi-Islamist goals – killed an average of 8.6 people per attack, with the most lethal attacks – excluding passenger ferries – directed against bus stations or bus stops, with 8.8 fatalities per attack. Attacks on passenger buses come close behind at 5.2 fatalities per attack. The three jihadist attacks against bus stations in Nigeria were far more lethal."

By contrast, attacks on surface transportation by non-jihadist groups, including nearly all of the attacks in Israel against bus targets and the lethal campaign waged by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, achieved an average body count of only 2.2 fatalities per attack – three fatalities per attack against buses and 1.9 fatalities per attack against bus stations and stops.

"Overall, there appear to be more bus attacks worldwide recently, with bus attacks becoming slightly more lethal," he said. "By contrast, while passenger and commuter train attacks have also increased, their lethality has decreased."

VBIEDs deliver high body counts

Looking at the most lethal combination of terrorist devices, targets and delivery methods, open air bus stations featured in three of the 15 most lethal attacks, and VBIEDS were used in four of them. Of these, three attacks were directed against bus stations and one attack against a bus itself.   

Looking at all attacks, not just those involving explosives, VBIEDS are the seventh most frequently used terrorist weapon and the sixth most lethal attack method, killing an average of 7.8 people per attack. Interestingly, whether VBIEDs were detonated remotely or by suicide bombers only slightly changes their lethality, far less than suicide delivery does for most IEDs. 

Developing nations are hit hardest

"Citizens of western countries tend to think that all terrorism is aimed at them," said Mr. Jenkins. "The Abuja attack reminds us that the developing nations suffer far more from terrorism than the developed nations. In terms of the number of attacks, only four countries are developed nations from among the top 20 whose public surface transportation systems are the most targeted by terrorists. These developed nations are Israel, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom."

India and Pakistan are first and second in terms of the total number of attacks on surface transportation systems, with 19 and 17 percent of the total, respectively. Nigeria is in 39th place, although the number of attacks recently has increased.

Mr. Jenkins added, "When we look at where the most lethal attacks on surface transportation take place, the contrast is also stark. Considering the 16 countries with 40 or more attacks – which tends to reduce situations where just a few large-scale attacks can significantly increase the national lethality average – all are developing countries except same four countries – Israel, Russia, Spain and the UK. The worldwide average is 2.3 fatalities per attack."

The most lethal attacks on average occurred in Sri Lanka (8.4 fatalities per attack) and Algeria (4.6 fatalities per attack). India's lethality rate is 2.7, only slightly less than Israel's 2.8, and Pakistan's was 2.4. By contrast, Russia's fatality rate was 2.1, Spain's 1.6, and the UK's 0.9.  Developing countries clearly suffer greatly, said Mr. Jenkins.

The more people rely on buses, the more they are targeted

Terrorist bus attacks can also occur in the developed countries as well. In fact, buses are attacked more than any other set of public surface transport targets in both developing and developed countries. However, the lethality of bus attacks in the developing countries is greater.

Mr. Butterworth said that, excluding Israel from the set of developed countries (because it is probably unique in its reliance on a public bus system instead of passenger, commuter, and subway rail), developed country attacks on buses generated a body count of 1.5 and a rate of 0.8 on bus stations and stops. By comparison, similar attacks in the developing world generated fatality rates of 3.2 for buses and 2.9 for bus stations and stops.

"The more people rely upon bus transportation, the more it becomes a lucrative terrorist target," he said. "Still, we have to remember that attacks against bus targets in the developed countries do happen, and they can be lethal, as indicated by the 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, which killed 6, as well as last December's attack against a bus trolley in Volgograd, Russia, which killed 16."

Previous Transportation Security Perspectives include By the Numbers: Russia's Terrorists Increasingly Target Transportation ; Mineta Transportation Institute Says Subways Are Still in Terrorists' Sights; and The Terrorist Attack in Kunming, China: Does It Indicate a Growing Threat Worldwide? All are available for free download and no registration.

ABOUT BRIAN MICHAEL JENKINS

Brian Michael Jenkins is an international authority on terrorism and sophisticated crime. He directs the Mineta Transportation Institute's (MTI) National Transportation Safety and Security Center, which focuses on research into protecting surface transportation against terrorist attacks. He is also a senior advisor to the president of RAND. From 1989-98, Mr. Jenkins was deputy chairman of Kroll Associates, an international investigative and consulting firm. Before that, he was chairman of RAND's Political Science Department, where he also directed research on political violence. He has authored several books, chapters, and articles on counterterrorism, including International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict and Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? Most recently, he published When Armies Divide, a discussion about nuclear arms in the hands of rebelling armies. He also has been principal investigator for many peer-reviewed security-focused research reports for MTI.

ABOUT BRUCE R. BUTTERWORTH

Mr. Butterworth has worked at congressional, senior policy, and operational levels, including with the House Government Operations Committee, Department of Transportation, and the Office of the Secretary. He managed negotiations on air and maritime services in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) (now the World Trade Organization), chaired U.S. delegations to United Nations committees, and was part of the response to the bombing of Pan Am 103. He was an executive in airline security, and he launched a successful program of dangerous-goods regulation and cargo security after the 1995 ValuJet crash. He worked closely with Congress and other federal-level agencies and departments. Currently, he is a research associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute. Mr. Butterworth received an MS degree from the London School of Economics and a BA degree from the University of the Pacific (magna cum laude). He was a California State Scholar and a Rotary Foundation Fellow.

ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE (MTI):

MTI conducts research, education, and information transfer programs focusing on surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2011. The Institute is funded by Congress through the US DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through Caltrans, and public and private grants. In 2006 the US Department of Homeland Security selected MTI as a National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI is the lead institute for the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, an affiliation of nine university transportation research centers. MTI is affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University's College of Business. Visit transweb.sjsu.edu

Contact: Donna Maurillo
MTI Communications Director
831-234-4009 (mobile)
donna.maurillo (at) sjsu.edu

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100318/MTILOGO

SOURCE Mineta Transportation Institute

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
Docker containers have brought great opportunities to shorten the deployment process through continuous integration and the delivery of applications and microservices. This applies equally to enterprise data centers as well as the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jari Kolehmainen, founder and CTO of Kontena, discussed solutions and benefits of a deeply integrated deployment pipeline using technologies such as container management platforms, Docker containers, and the drone.io Cl tool. H...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
Translating agile methodology into real-world best practices within the modern software factory has driven widespread DevOps adoption, yet much work remains to expand workflows and tooling across the enterprise. As models evolve from pockets of experimentation into wholescale organizational reinvention, practitioners find themselves challenged to incorporate the culture and architecture necessary to support DevOps at scale.
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
As more and more companies are making the shift from on-premises to public cloud, the standard approach to DevOps is evolving. From encryption, compliance and regulations like GDPR, security in the cloud has become a hot topic. Many DevOps-focused companies have hired dedicated staff to fulfill these requirements, often creating further siloes, complexity and cost. This session aims to highlight existing DevOps cultural approaches, tooling and how security can be wrapped in every facet of the bu...
yperConvergence came to market with the objective of being simple, flexible and to help drive down operating expenses. It reduced the footprint by bundling the compute/storage/network into one box. This brought a new set of challenges as the HyperConverged vendors are very focused on their own proprietary building blocks. If you want to scale in a certain way, let’s say you identified a need for more storage and want to add a device that is not sold by the HyperConverged vendor, forget about it....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems Inc, provides the software product "The Interactor" that uniquely simplifies building IoT, Web and Smart Enterprise Solutions. It is a Silicon Valley startup funded by US government agencies, NSF and DHS to bring innovative solutions to market.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, presented the findings of a series of six detailed case studies of how large corporations are implementing IoT. The session explored how IoT has improved their economic performance, had major impacts on business models and resulted in impressive ROIs. The companies covered span manufacturing and services firms. He also explored servicification, how manufacturing firms shift from se...
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, discussed how AI can simplify cloud operations. He covered the following topics: why cloud mana...