National Counterterrorism Center is ascared of urban explorers

People who explore the urban ruins of cities are terrorist dupes! Wired: “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 [sic] that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets,” warns the nation’s premiere all-source center for counterterrorism analysis. "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." (Thanks, Matthew)


  1. Well they do have a point.  If I was a terrorist, and somebody just posted detailed photos and schematics of the tunnel system underneath the Pentagon, I would feel like, hey thanks for doing my legwork guy!

    EDIT: Tunnel system which does not exist, I made that up.

    1. So, basically if you were a terrorist and somebody did research on an active military target unrelated to the urban ruins described in the article you would feel thankful?

      Well that is totes cool, ’cause I would feel thankful if you brought me a big hot bowl of tom yum soup and set me up with a talented massage therapist right now.

      Of course that’s not related to the post, either.

  2. The Pentagon just ain’t that kind of target. Have you any idea how freaking big that place is? There is indeed a tunnel system under it: the subway used to stop there, and there was an entire underground shopping mall. When the Hamburg Cell dropped a wide-body airliner on it and killed hundreds, people at the other side of the building barely noticed.  It’s so huge you’d need a B-52 strike to make a dent in it. Or a nuke.

    This goes for a lot of US infrastructure projects. If there’s one thing the USA does well, it’s pouring cubic miles of concrete. And you know what? That stuff just doesn’t terrorize easily!

    The only real targets for terrorists are peoples’ minds. And these idiots from the FBI are helping the hypothetical terrorists (doubtless with the best of intentions — at least insofar as spreading FUD helps justify their pay checks).

    1. There is a Metro stop NEAR the Pentagon, but not directly attached.  The mall is one stop away at Pentagon City.

      1.  There is a station at the Pentagon, but it has been closed for some years. My friends and I used to ride from Brookland/ CUA to the Pentagon to get $0.75 haircuts.

  3. Yes, it is of grave concern that Terrorists might destroy our abandoned mental hospitals, defunct amusement parks, or derelict rail tunnels.  

    1. And those who step off of the sidewalk or try to learn anything which has not been officially approved are potential terrorists and must be watched.

  4. @boingboing-d169aba4714e8e2b31778bd1f1fa9cd3:disqus I came across a quite abandoned mental hospital in Tokyo once – no one in there, gated, grass so tall & wild. It surely creeped me out somewhat. There must have been some sad story that brought it to that forlorn state.

  5. “State and Major Area Fusion Center” I’m glad they are working on our energy independence. 

    1. why the emphasis on left behind waste and not right behind waste?  How do you tell the difference?

  6. The point is not to destroy an abandoned urban environment but to identify bases / safe houses to stay in in preparation for said destruction. Why give the terrorists free info? Although, I love the pics that are put up and I don’t think “not” putting up these photos will stop a determined terrorist from  performing a recce on their own.

    1. If you want to make sure you don’t give the terrorists free info, you cannot give anyone any free info, ever. Street maps? Road signs? Why would you _tell_ the terrorists the way to the stadium? If you’re just a football fan going to a game, surely the organizer will be able to get you there somehow without telling you the location…

      This is paranoia. In trying to make live for terrorists just a slight tad more difficult, you’re spoiling it for the everyone else. And even worse, by linking unusual behaviour to terrorism you create a society where everyone has to stay on the rails provided, and every unsusual thing anyone could come up with will be persecuted.

      You kill society this way. This is exactly the wet dream of terrorists: A society paralyzed and choking itself out of fear. If we reacted like that to every eventuality that has the potential to kill people (illness, accidents, bad wheather…), we’d still be cowering at the darkest end of our cave, suspecting each other of something or other.

    2.  Why use abandoned property where you can get walked in on by any other person seeking to use abandoned property? Get some money, sign a lease on a house, a flat, or an office, and you can lock the door and plot a terror attack in peace and quiet.

  7. Why give the terrorists free info?

    Because the same argument could be made against Google Maps. Or Wikipedia.

    1. …or public libraries, or telling that nice tourist the way to the museum…

      Most places that urban explorers want to go visit are terrible places to live, otherwise they’re already squatted by the local homeless people.

  8. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FBI wanted these spaces all to themselves as they lend a certain gravitas to their fake terror plots. You can’t very well expect an angry young muslim to fall for the con if the terror plot is hatched in a Dunkin Donuts.
    Plus the sets look good on camera and there is talk of a reality TV show!

  9. March 20, 1995 – sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway
    July 7, 2005 – bomb attack on London subway

    They are two incidents still on my mind.

    Undoubtedly, even without the internet, google maps and all that, a city like Tokyo where almost every spot’s well documentated with maps and guides, the risk is always there. When I stayed in Tokyo in the 1980s, I was amazed by the intricate subway system, well illustrated by maps on walls & pamphlets.

    No way that a big city can do without maps. No way that criminals & terrorists alike cannot gather information beforehand, just like any ordinary citizen, unless measures like curfew is introduced to limit the range of movements…but…that’s only for…uh…no one really want that, right?

    it is harmful weapons & materials that we must caution against, like chemicals & bombs.

    1. I don’t think you need a detailed map of the subway system to bring deadly poison on the car and release it.  The most you might need is to know which stops are furthest apart and frankly trying to comb through urbex photos to figure that out is much less sensible than just buying a ticket getting on, and checking your watch at every stop. 

      So yeah, this ban is just scaremongering. 

  10. Fusion Centers are desperate for things that look like work.  Most of them are dead end places where federal agencies send people they don’t care for or who are not the brightest bulbs in the Intelligence world and where state and local send people who want to look important.

    Information sharing never really occurs as everyone is busy guarding their own private turf and trying to expand it.

    Real Intell work does get done but not generally in Fusion Centers where the motto often is “Security Through Obscurity Protects Our Futurity”.

    Nice people, loyal and well-meaning but you need a major clue by four to get most of them to even begin to understand the Internet and the mindset of Makers and suchlike.  I spent 25 years trying to do educate all the ones I came in contact with, I managed in some cases or there’s things that’d be a *lot* worse (usual “I can’t tell you specifics” stuff.)

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