Advisory: Share-Bike Schemes May Lead to Bike Bombs Being Used By Terrorists

October 29, 2017

27 October 2017

In the last 12 months a growth in ‘share-bike schemes’ have seen a number of publicly accessible bikes, unlocked using a mobile app, left on public streets. This provides a useful opportunity to terrorist groups.

Daniel Lewkovitz of award-winning electronic security and life-safety firm Calamity Monitoring (https://calamity.com.au) is concerned that unattended bicycles have previously been used as bombs in a large number of terrorist attacks which could be repeated locally.

There are approximately 4000 such bikes currently on the streets of Sydney with latest entrant to the market, Ofo reportedly to drop 200 in the City of Sydney a further 200 in Waverley and 200 in the Inner West this week and thousands more expected to appear before Christmas.

In Jaipur, India in 2008 nine explosive-packed bicycles were placed around seven locations and exploded simultaneously causing over 60 deaths with hundreds injured. There have been dozens of other such attacks globally.

Some other attacks include:

  • Ahmedabad, largest city of the state of Gujarat, India 45 killed in a series of 17 blasts.
  • Twin bomb blasts at Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, India on Feb 21st,2013 - 18 Killed and 40 Injured.
  • Baquba, Iraq bicycle bombing on 26 June 2006 - 25 people killed, dozens more injured
  • Multiple bike bombings (or prevented bombings) at English seaside resorts by the IRA in the mid-nineties

Lewkovitz said: “The hollow frame and pannier [carry bag] of a bike provides substantial space for explosives and shrapnel to be packed and the metal bicycle itself adds further fragmentation which could cause injury.”

He warned: “For decades the most basic antiterrorism advice was for the public to beware of suspicious objects left unattended. The proliferation of bike-share schemes are potentially making large numbers of abandoned bicycles part of the scenery. This would allow a potentially lethal bomb or several bombs to be delivered and left unattended in plain sight in a crowded area without raising any eyebrows as any unattended item in a crowded place really should...If a potentially explosive-packed bicycle left in a crowded location won’t be considered suspicious it’s almost the perfect bomb delivery system”. He advises “I would be encouraging sensitive or crowded locations to actively monitor bike-parking.”

Unattended Bicycle

Local Councils are still considering how to deal with growing problems of abandoned share bikes left lying on footpaths and driveways however are supporting these for-profit businesses on the presumption they reduce car traffic. Lewkovitz says: “It’s ironic that councils such as City of Sydney are reacting to terrorism on the one hand by deploying ugly concrete barriers yet on the other hand simultaneously embracing a scheme that could allow terrorists to easily leave improvised explosive devices lying around the CBD.

You have the absurd situation where a concrete barrier specifically placed to prevent vehicle-borne explosives, could have an explosive laden vehicle literally propped up against it.”

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