In January of 2006, six terrorists were preparing for the final phase of their plan. Their intent was to storm Fort Dix with automatic rifles, with the goal of killing as many soldiers as possible. They considered the soldiers to be a viable military target, but also planned to kill as many civilians as they could.
In addition to the rifles, they had prepared explosives to target groups of people and vehicles. They had trained on a local paintball range and in the woods around the installation, and they had practiced shooting at targets at a local range. One of them men, whose father owned a pizza parlor nearby, used his pizza delivery job to scout potential targets. They had video surveillance and detailed maps. They had even traveled to other military installations to surveil their next targets. They were prepared.
How did we uncover this insidious terrorist plot? Was it international law enforcement cooperation? An insider? Maybe a paid informant or intercepted communications?
It wasn’t any of those. It was a video clerk.
The terrorists had recorded themselves on VHS video initiating a call to jihad and practicing “military-like” drills. They brought those VHS tapes to a nearby video store to convert to DVDs, which is where the clerk noticed the content. He then called the FBI, who investigated the group and arrested the men.
Not all terrorists are internationally-trained and educated sophisticates. Sometimes, they can be careless or stupid. They can be caught by people like you or me, or by a video clerk.
“I can’t do anything, I’m just a file clerk.”
“I just do badges.”
“I’m only an office worker.”
“I just make copies and burn CDs all day.”
“It’s not my job.”
There are a million excuses. But then again, who knows how many lives that clerk saved when he reported something out of the ordinary? Stay vigilant and contact designated authorities when you see anything unusual, suspicious, or strange.
One person can make a difference. Will that person be you?