Cost of staging a bomb attack: as little as US$10,000, says terrorism expert
By Chong Chee Kin (The Straits Times)
BOMBING attacks in the Southeast Asia cost terrorists as little as US$10,000 (S$14,126) to stage, but the damage to properties and businesses can easily spiral into the millions.
The amount is spare change compared to the US$2 million to US$3 million that terrorist groups raise in the region every month.
The series of attacks in Bali in 2002 and 2005, which included the bombings of the JW Marriot Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2003 and 2004, each cost only between US$10,000 and US$40,000 to stage.
Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna gave this regional perspective on terrorism when he spoke at a conference organised by British commercial insurer Lloyd's on Thursday for insurers and business leaders around the world.
Citing a report by Lloyd's and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Lloyd's chief executive, Richard Ward, said the main threat to businesses operating in Southeast Asia were their proximity to Western targets, such as embassies and hotels and possible attacks on the companies' transport routes and supply chains.
'If a company's supply chain is attacked or shut down, it simply can not survive. While many businesses are aware of possible attacks on their premises and take precautions to avoid this, too few take into account their operating systems and transport routes,' he noted.
Crucial to managing the risks is the need for businesses to tap on the expertise of academics and non-governmental organisations, he said.
Intelligence agencies should also build up their 'human intelligence capacities' - getting information through a network of people rather than surveillance equipment.
Citing the example of how an Al-Qaeda member had his hand cut off for using a mobile phone at his camp, Dr Gunaratna said terrorists know that they can be tracked through technological means.
'It is getting increasingly difficult to track them because they know they can be traced easily when they use hi-tech equipment,' he said.