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Lesson 2-1 Types of Targets

Terrorists prefer a target that involves little risk and a high probability of success. Terrorists evaluate a target’s security profile, predictability, and value. The target’s value is determined by its importance and possible benefits gained. Once a target has been evaluated by terrorists, the target is labeled in the terrorist’s mind as either a soft or a hard target.

Soft Targets

Soft targets are accessible, predictable, and unaware. They make it easy for strangers to access their private information (e.g., phone numbers, addresses, schedules). Soft targets follow consistent routines at home and at work, allowing terrorists to predict a target’s movements in advance. Soft targets are unaware of their surroundings and do not employ individual protective measures.

Hard Targets

Hard targets are inaccessible, unpredictable, and aware. They make it difficult for terrorists to gain access to themselves or their families. Hard targets consciously vary their routines and avoid setting patterns in their daily life. They are security conscious, aware of their surroundings, and proactively adhere to individual protective measures. Hard targets do not:

  • Put their names on mailboxes or exterior walls of their homes.
  • Run or walk daily at the same time of day or to the same place.
  • Wash cars, mow lawns or have family cookouts the same day every week.
  • Shop the same day of each week at the same store.
  • Travel to and from home on the same route and at the same time of day.
  • Attend church services at the same time of day and place each week.
  • Sit in the same seat in a vehicle, restaurant, church, etc.
  • Arrive at work, go to lunch, depart work at the same time of day every day.
  • Pick up the newspaper or mail at the same time of day every day.
  • Walk or feed the dog along the same route or at the same time of day every day.
  • Patronize the same restaurants or bars or patronize only American restaurants or bars.
  • Park vehicles in the same area at church, social events, etc.
  • Earn the reputation of always lending a helping hand, e.g., aiding “victims” at “staged” roadside accidents.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015