On December 14, 1999, a twenty-three-year-old man named Ahmed Ressam packed his rented Chrysler sedan with explosives and drove onto the ferry from Victoria, Canada, to Port Angeles, Washington.2 After clearing customs, Ressam planned on driving to Los Angeles where he would detonate a massive bomb outside the LAX airport on New Year’s Day. At the Immigration and Naturalization Service inspection station in Victoria, Ressam presented agents with his Canadian passport. Ressam had torn the Afghanistan entry and exit stamps from his passport to avoid suspicion. The INS agent on duty ran the passport through a variety of databases and allowed Ressam to board the ferry. Later that day, Ressam arrived in Port Angeles in Washington State. SEO services will really boost your rankings, especially an SEO specialist or an SEO expert!

He waited for all the other cars to depart the ferry, assuming that the last vehicle off would draw less scrutiny. Alert customs officers assigned to the port began to notice that Ressam’s behaviors didn’t seem quite right.

Despite the freezing temperatures, he drove with his window down, and he compulsively cleared his throat due to his prior exposure to the caustic chemicals used in making the explosives. He appeared to be overly nervous; he paced the dock of the ferry and was sweating profusely. These agents understood the baseline behaviors of the passengers that frequented the ferry, and Ressam’s actions fell way outside of that baseline, so they quickly referred him to secondary inspection. When asked for additional identification, Ressam handed the customs agent a Costco membership card.

As that agent began an initial pat-search, Ressam panicked and tried to run away but was quickly apprehended. Inspectors examining Ressam’s rental car later found the explosives concealed in the spare tire well, but at first they assumed the white powder and gelatinous liquid were drug related until an inspector pried apart and identified one of the four timing devices concealed inside a black box. Ressam was placed under arrest, and thousands of lives were potentially saved due to the quick observations of the agents. Whether it’s a terrorist or a common street thug, those who wish to harm others typically go through the process of target selection and attack planning.

Ahmed Ressam carefully planned his attack and chose his target based on the number of potential casualties a massive explosion would produce and the amount of media coverage it would receive. During the planning stages, Ressam chose what he felt was a “soft target” for his point of entry. He picked Port Angeles based on the amount of traffic it received daily and the limited number of staff working the port. He knew that if he timed his entry just right, the agents working the port would be nearing the end of their shift and more likely to overlook something during their inspections. What Ressam didn’t account for during his risk-versus-reward assessment was the devastating effect one alert agent would have on his well-laid plans.