Terrible news coming out of Oslo, Norway. If we believe the newspapers, not what I would consider a totally reliable source, one radicalized man planted bombs and went on a shooting spree. He was assisted in the shooting spree in that he wore police garb. His acts caught the police and the civilian population off guard and unable to cope. The resulting carnage is so horrible the government darkly hints at unknown accomplices to explain the devastation.
We can pin all kinds of labels on him, second guess why he did this, study his mind, dissect his brain for abnormal brain structure, but in the long run we’ll never really understand what causes a person to do this.
Unfortunately, it was predictable with broad brush strokes. Hardened government and military sites make poor terrorist targets. They require time, extensive detailed planning involving many people, any of which can be become a weak link unraveling the plot.
The self-motivated terrorist maybe an individual or a small cell of like-minded individuals united by a common complaint or belief. They could put together an attack on defenseless people, the so called “soft target.” Such planning is simpler; security is lax; physical barriers can be overcome or circumvented.
Don’t believe me?
Really, do you really think the no-gun sign on store doors keeps criminals out? I was at large public activity and discovered the metal detectors run by the police weren’t even plugged in. Hmmm, do you still want to hand over all responsibility for your protection to someone else?
Since such events focused on soft targets are more likely, we should concentrate on what our response should be. I mean you, not the Red Cross, not the police, not the CIA/NSA.
Even if you’re not directly affected by a localized terror attack you may still be involved. The temporary vacuum caused by the withdrawal of police, fire, or activation of the National Guard will create criminal opportunities. Be ready for them.
Surviving the event, your response might be to assist the walking wounded to get out of danger or to assist first responders so they can address the more pressing needs.
Self-rescue is certainly a possibility and requires preplanning on your part. Do you know where the stairs are? Which doors lead out? Where could you barricade yourself if you needed to? Starting with the first burst of gun fire, the first shock wave of an explosion, getting out of the danger area, out from under terrorist control, should be a priority. Remember promises made to hostages for safety in return for obedience are lies. Any delay a terrorist has in killing you is purely for his or her convenience.
Escaping, avoiding seizure, finding shelter and protection are viable options. Ignore instructions by hotel staff or police safely on the other side of the barricade, or any officials on the radio and TV. They are safe and have little to lose. Get out as soon as possible.
The least likely possibility is engaging the terrorist. Do you have the skills and tools needed on you? It isn’t likely you’ll be able to retrieve equipment from home, your vehicle or locker and return to disrupt the mayhem. It’s only in the movies that agent X-1 can get the drop on someone and slowly accrue weapons, communication and other operational supplies. Good drama, poor reality.
Still, it is within the realm of possibilities you could be the only thing standing between evil and innocent people. Experts indicate the longer a situation goes on the more control the terrorist has. If you’re going to act, you need to act as soon as possible. But how is the question.
Leave aside the question of skill with your tools, what do you do? I remember reading about the recommended Israeli tactic for suicide bombers and terrorist attacks. Shoot them dead. Move in and shoot them in the head to make sure. Holster your weapon, so security forces would not confuse you with other terrorists and move rapidly to a safe place. This is all based on the presence of other undisclosed terrorists waiting to react to rescuers and police.
A similar model could work for you and me. Shoot anyone killing unarmed people. Kill them dead right now and reload. Holster your weapon and move to the safe edge of the event. Again, let’s not confuse the already chaotic police arriving on the scene. God only know what arriving police or military know, but I know they will not see the good guy halo over your head.
Terrorism depends on creating fear driving social change. At its heart is a blackmail scheme: give me what I want and I will leave you alone (until I want something else). Paying off blackmail never works. Giving into terrorists will not work either.