26.8.11

Poor security leads to car bomb attack on UN office in Nigeria. 16 dead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/police-large-explosion-near-un-building-in-nigerias-capital-of-abuja/2011/08/26/gIQAe9DefJ_story.html




Witnesses told The Associated Press that a sedan rammed through two separate gates at the U.N. compound as guards tried to stop the vehicle. The suicide bomber inside crashed the car into the main reception area and detonated the explosives, inflicting the most damage possible, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency said.
“This is getting out of hand,” said a U.N. staffer who identified himself as Bodunrin. “If they can get into the U.N. House, they can reach anywhere.”
Bullcrap. If they can get into the U.N. House, they can reach anywhere that someone has set up two flimsy gates that can easily be rammed through by someone driving a sedan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)
sedan (American English) or saloon car (British EnglishIrish EnglishNew Zealand English) is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with A, B & C-pillars and principal volumes articulated in separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo. The passenger compartment features two rows of seats and adequate passenger space in the rear compartment for adult passengers.
Granted, some sedan cars are fairly heavy and make great battering rams. Put a bunch of heavy explosives in the car and get it up to speed on a straightaway and you have yourself quite the inertia-laden missile. You won't be able to steer it very well, but it'll make a dent at least in most concrete barriers.

What we can deduce from the above quotes in WaPo is that the sedan was able to accelerate on a straight road into one barrier, and then do the same to another. Either the barriers were made of balsa wood, or there was no concrete "chicane" zig-zag or the people who designed the checkpoint thought they'd never have to deal with anything more serious than politely asking someone to stop their car so they can check their papers. Probably just a metal boom that you lower and raise - fairly easy to just smash out of the way unless it's properly anchored on both sides. The security guards were obviously not ready to use their weapons against someone who refuses to stop.

"...guards tried to stop the vehicle." By doing what? Offering the driver some tea and crumpets?

Whoever was in charge of that UN operation got caught with their pants down. The person who said "Oh no, we don't want too much security - it's so inconvenient and we don't want to appear intimidating or not open to the public" is now akin to a liberal who's been robbed, i.e. a new conservative.

No security operation will ever be airtight. There will always be holes. You can infiltrate the guards. There's always construction going on somewhere, or you can choose an easier target. The point of security is to make yourself a target that's not worth attacking. If I was a UN employee somewhere in the world I'd be very concerned about the ability of someone to park a truck full of explosives right next to my building - or to breach the security perimeter with a car full of explosives.

16 dead in Nigeria. Two flimsy gates in a straight line with clear approach. No cement blocks. No zig-zag.


EDIT: From the video at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/deadly-blast-at-nigerian-un-building/2011/08/26/gIQAAEe0fJ_video.html it seems that the sedan was able to make a straight run up to a high gate that either recessed horizontally or swung open on hinges, and then smashed aside the aforementioned vertical boom-type barrier. Both were in line with each other. There were no concrete blocks forcing the driver to zig-zag.

So now what? Fix your crap, UN. Africa is a cess-pit of violence, famine, poor governance, over-population, bandits like the Lord's Resistance Army and messed-up economic prospects due to culture, barriers to trade (hello, EU Common Agricultural Policy) and legacies of mismanagement following the retreat of colonialism - which itself was bad enough. A situation ripe for crazy right-wing American evangelicals and crazy jihadist Muslim propaganda. It's gonna get worse before it gets better - esp. given how much money and food aid various outside groups continue to pump in to make themselves feel better. We vote with our dollars. We create aid dependencies. We give and give and give to perpetuate problems so that we then have to give more. We try to stop violence so that there are never any clear victors that can set about re-building society. What a mess.

EDIT 2:
Looks like a straight shot from the road outside through both gates/barriers.

UPDATE: 21 dead. In the above poorly formatted satellite image (top right is a blowup/zoom of the rectangle labeled "UN building" in the bottom part of the composite image) the first, main gate appears to be some distance away from the actual building - the part shaped as a 3-sided cross or a "Y". So what you have is a straight, uncontrolled, unsecured outside road that leads straight at a flimsy gate that's mostly there to stop people on foot and for show. Followed by another straight shot at gate number two followed immediately by a poorly secured and apparently in the "up" position boom-type device right next to the building.

UN security people - you fucked up. Possibly aided and abetted by a bunch of bleeding-heart extreme liberal types more concerned with not appearing "security-obsessed" and maintaining an "open-door, close-to-the-people approach." I'm all for being nice and friendly and not hiding behind massive walls all the time, but targets like official buildings in countries with active terror groups need to be hardened to some degree. At least put in some 1m-tall cement barriers so they'll have to use a tracked vehicle or a purpose-built truck to get through. It's not about making attacks impossible - it's about making them harder to pull off for less effect.

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