The UN World Food Program office hit with a suicide attack yesterday had at least 24 security personnel assigned to guard it (private, Frontier Corps and police), and was according to some reports ‘heavily fortified’.
‘This was one of the best-protected U.N. centers in all of Pakistan,’ U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters at the world body’s headquarters in New York. ”We were really quite heavily guarded at least at that compound. How that person got in — that is still being investigated, and we’re trying to find out from surveillance cameras.’
The office apparently had established security procedures for visitors:
Typically, visitors to U.N. buildings in Islamabad are screened and patted down for weapons and explosives in secure chambers some distance from the entrance to the building. It was unclear whether the attacker went through that process.
This video from AFP appears to confirm that there were significant security measures in place.
Despite this level of security, the bomber managed to penetrate the building’s defences with two relatively simple ruses: 1) he wore the uniform of the Frontier Corps 2) he asked to use the bathroom, was let into the building where he then detonated himself, killing five members of staff.
Security camera footage broadcast on local TV shows the bomber walking through a door into what appears to be the main building carrying a 2-foot-long cylindrical object — possibly a detonator — in one hand. Seconds later, a bright flash fills the screen. [emphasis added]
Like the recent attack on the African Union compound in Mogadishu, where two VBIEDs were allowed to pass through security checks because the guards thought they were United Nations staff, yesterday’s attack again demonstrates the importance of having rigorous access control – simply allowing individuals to pass through your gate or door because of who or what they appear to be is a vulnerability that someone may seek to exploit.