Thursday, January 30, 2003

Scarborough man makes terrorism his business

Published in the Current

David Hunt of Scarborough has taken over an airplane, invaded a day care center, poisoned a town’s water supply and even staged a riot. But rather than staking out his house, law enforcement officials around the country and across the world are willing to pay him for his services.

He also offers his advice on fighting terrorism, though he knows his views are likely to be controversial.

Not only does he advocate going after terrorists around the world and killing them, rather than arresting them, but Hunt also says the federal government isn’t doing enough to actually fight terrorism, preferring to posture and reorganize instead of tackling the problems.

Hunt is a former Army colonel who served for nearly 30 years, much of it in the Special Forces. He served in “everything from Vietnam to Bosnia,” including covert operations in several Middle Eastern countries, according to a recent GQ article.

“I hate when he writes that,” Hunt said, looking at an article by reporter Bob Drury in which a detailed account of Hunt’s dangerous service record is given, including stints in Iran and Iraq. He didn’t serve during the Gulf War, though, as he was stationed in Korea at the time.

Now retired and in security consulting, governments and companies ask Hunt to bring his security know-how to work for them, helping them figure
out how to avoid terrorism, industrial espionage and regular criminals.

“It’s private industry and governments,” who need help with “everything from their intelligence services, training, security,” Hunt said. His company,
D.A.R. Inc., from his first initial and those of his wife and son, has offices in Scarborough and Montreal.

He also trains the Scarborough Police Department’s Special Response Team, as well as other police SWAT teams around the country from time to time.

“I train police for free,” Hunt said. That’s because most police SWAT team members aren’t paid much extra for their service, and “most of the time
they have to buy their own gear,” Hunt said. He doesn’t feel right charging them for training, when they’re already risking their lives for free.

He helped protect the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002, by running a series of drills to test local response.

Hunt and a team of former military special-operations soldiers “took over” a day-care center and “poisoned” a local water supply to show local officials how those types of events would happen, and to demonstrate federal responses.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Hunt was hired by companies that insured airlines and were trying to evaluate security before the hijackings. A study group he assembled included former members of Delta Force and the Navy SEALs, as well as a pilot and police officers. They even had plans to take over a plane – which he did in a drill at Logan Airport several years ago – but those were scrapped, he said.

Bureaucracy in the way
Hunt has his own views on national security against terrorism, and they don’t agree with those of the Bush administration.

The Department of Homeland Security is too big for its own good, but still too small, he said. It includes only 22 of the 44 federal agencies involved in
fighting terrorism, and has no budget. It also is subject to between 50 and 90 congressional oversight committees, and does not include any intelligence-gathering agencies.

“If you’re going to fight terrorism, you have to have intelligence,” Hunt said. Also required is a streamlined government bureaucracy.

“The bureaucracy is still there,” Hunt said. Many government agencies have very old computer systems without even e-mail capabilities, making
inter-agency communication difficult, if not impossible.

Also important is including local law enforcement agencies.

There are over 600,000 police officers in the U.S., and none of them are able to communicate effectively with the federal agencies. “The local guys aren’t in this yet. They feel left out,” Hunt said.

And the U.S. is not actively seeking out terrorists. Hunt said he knows of 14 al Qaeda terror cells in the U.S., six groups in Canada and training camps in
South America. Even in Afghanistan, when U.S. troops had the terrorist organization’s leaders on the run, there were no U.S. soldiers guarding mountain passes over which the leaders escaped to Pakistan, Hunt said. “We let them go,” he said.

The reason, he said, is bureaucratic. There is no one agency and no single person responsible for fighting terror.

The FBI is not the agency to do the job, Hunt said: Terrorism and criminal activity are different.

“Terrorism has to be treated as war,” Hunt said. He advocates killing terrorists, wherever they may be found.

He would have teams stationed all over the world hunting down and killing terrorists. “We need a good terrorist,” Hunt said, to properly fight terrorism.

He worried, though, that the American public may not have the stomach for that kind of effort.

Another possible avenue of attack against terrorism would be the Russian mafia, and the Western companies that support it, he said. The Russians are funneling money and weapons to al Qaeda. They get their money from Western companies willing to pay to get access to the Russian market. Hunt said those companies know where their money goes, but are greedy enough not to worry.

“Bureaucracy is still fighting us,” Hunt said.