(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center: Urban Exploration Offers Insight on Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

Urban Exploration Offers Insight Into Critical Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

  • 1 page
  • For Official Use Only
  • November 19, 2012


(U//FOUO) Urban Explorers (UE)—hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas—frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets. Advanced navigation and mapping technologies, including three dimensional modeling and geo-tagging, could aid terrorists in pinpointing locations in dense urban environments. Any suspicious UE activity should be reported to the nearest State and Major Area Fusion Center and to the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

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13 comments for “(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center: Urban Exploration Offers Insight on Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

  1. Marian
    March 19, 2013 at 2:07 am

    “hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas—frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line that could be used by terrorists”

    So if that’s the case any photograph or even TV footage or movies of scenes of cities and aerial shots, in them, etc are all potential terrorists data gathering material.

    What a load of crap. What’s coming next banning of all photos or videos taken by electronic means in the the streets of our cities showing buildings and infrastructure. Just in case those photos might end up being used for terrorist purposes?

    Why not just ban or tourist brochures and books with photos of cities in them aswell then!

  2. March 19, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I noticed you referenced my website in your PDF but clearly failed to even skim the 380-page PhD living there which contradicts almost everything you’ve asserted.

    What urban explorers are doing by sneaking into places is expressing deep admiration for their environment and its history. They are participatory citizens who take an active interest in their city and inspire others to playfully and creatively engage with their surroundings. They also have a strong sense of community, the very thing that makes a city safer.

    Countless historical precedents show that when and if terrorists strike, they will do so pretty much out in the open, aiming to inflict maximum human casualties – an attack is as much psychological as physical. Let’s take a metro tunnel as an example, which you suggest could be targeting for “disruption of service because of access to electrical, ventilation, or signal control rooms.” Why would you study urban explorer’s photos to find a way to abseil down a ventilation shaft into an abandoned tube station to disrupt a signal? This would be incredibly time-consuming, difficult and not very effective, especially when you can walk into a train with a valid ticket and an organic peroxide–based device in a rucksack. You may remember this happened in here in the UK on the 7th July 2005 that killed 52 people.

    You know what your best defence against terrorism is? A bunch of people who love their city, paying attention, with cameras. That’s a perfect description of urban explorers.

    McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. That is what you are propagating here. I think it might be worth taking the time to consider who is doing the “terrorising”. Using a vague threat to limit people’s right to spend their free time as they wish is unwarranted, unethical and authoritarian. Just to be clear: it’s drivel like this that is destroying the last vestiges of democracy.

    It’s worth considering this passage from 2003 by the explorer couple Liz and Ninjalicious which still resonates strongly today, especially in the context of your naïve overzealousness:

    “Allowing the darkening threat of future terrorist attack or indeed of our increasingly scarce civil rights to deter our curiosity or intimidate us away from expressing our deep appreciation for the hidden and neglected bits of our urban landscapes would be the greatest crime of all. Continuing to support considerate exploration and questioning authority in productive, benevolent, and visible ways will allow us to represent ourselves as what we really are: people who love our cities, not those who wish to destroy them.”

    Dr. Bradley L. Garrett
    University of Oxford

  3. Ivan Hackingtackle
    March 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Articles like this certainly provide food for thought and are rather frightening.
    It seems there is no end to the neurosis and paranoia that abounds in conservative America.
    The biggest threat to the country is not the nerds with cameras who enjoy crawling around in and on the infrastructure. The threat is the complete removal of freedom and liberty that the establishment seems to be hell bent on bringing about.

  4. Handycandy
    March 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Even if terrorists actually use photos on Facebook and the like to examine structures, the resulting damage (IF it occurs) is the fault of the terrorists, not the explorers. All the explorers want to do is find cool tunnel and places to take striking photos.
    Moreover, Trying to stop people from being curious is a waste of time. No matter how many you arrest, on however suspicious grounds, there will always be more. Here’s an idea — why don’t you take the poor slobs who’ve been assigned to tail a bunch of young nerds and put them on projects that actually prevent terrorism?

  5. Handycandy
    March 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    But you know what? I have a better idea. I have a much better idea.

    See, these explorers you’re afraid of — they’re finding old abandoned areas that you and everyone else have forgotten about. They’re finding the weak points in buildings and cities. And they’re doing it for free, despite the possible danger. Now, you can either shut these people down — OR, you can gather the information they find, and use it to your own advantage against terrorists. I’m sure some of these people would love to be rewarded for their efforts. Let me put it this way: When Genghis Khan was preparing to destroy China, someone stopped him by saying, “Destroy China and you gain million bolts of silk at once; conquer China and you gain five hundred thousand bolts of silk per year.”

    Think about it. You don’t want to squander a valuable resource.

  6. Sarah
    March 20, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Remember how nobody believed that terrorists would infiltrate flight schools in the United States?

    • nullhogarth
      March 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      There are a few things wrong with your post. It assumes a false fact to start with: “nobody believed that terrorists would infiltrate flight schools”. You offer this statement with no verification – it’s just an empty opinion. But the dumbest part is that it has no bearing on the topic at hand whatsoever. No one is claiming that banning photography would have stopped the terrorists from going to flight school, except you. Urban explorers would have exactly zero interest in photographing flight schools, and whether they did or did not would have had no effect on the terrorist’s ability to attend.
      Just dumb as a bag of hammers.

  7. Doug
    March 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

    I hope the terrorists don’t blow the abandoned farm house I found the other day nor the old gold mine that I posted some photos up off.

    Is this site even legit?

  8. Johannes Rexx
    March 20, 2013 at 7:54 am

    The utter nonsense that issues from the counter-terrorism bozo squad make the head shake. It is time for the free people of the USA to reign in the freedom-sapping efforts of the Feds. Congress needs to defund these bozos, as the federal deficit is soaring out of control. This is not analysis, it is total fabrication.

  9. Valkyre
    March 20, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Have shit homeland security, blame it on the explorers.
    Yeah that’s a cool way to go with it.

    Good on you.

  10. Anonymous
    March 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    The U.S. government is preparing for counter-insurgency warfare. Right here, in North America. At this point it isn’t even a secret. Anyone who cares to know, who has opened his eyes – knows.

    And knowing this, it becomes very clear why urban explorers are to be suppressed: they are revealing information that will be of use to the insurgents (where one might build hideouts, how to move through tunnels between buildings, how to demolish a bridge through which “peacekeepers” are entering the city, etc.)

  11. Freedom
    April 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Federal agencies buy multi thousands of rounds of ammo AUGUST 15, 2012 BY: ANTHONY MARTIN


    Published on Dec 7, 2012

    SAN DIEGO, CA — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ran anti-terror drills in which civilians dressed as zombies were gunned down indiscriminately by soldiers and police. Detailed makeup was used as well as pyrotechnics. This exercise was coordinated by the HALO Corporation.


    You need to know this as well!

  12. kevin fulton
    May 19, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Pres. Eisenhower warned us about the undue influence of the military-industrial complex–wake-up everybody!

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