Anti-Terrorism Shmanti-Terrorism: The Inherent Counterterrorism Reality in Dealing with the Active-Shooter(s) Scenario

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By David Crane
defrev at gmail dot com

Article updated on 12/08/08

December 2, 2008

As the world reels from the Mumbai, India terrorist attack(s), a lot of questions are being asked and answered, and accusations are being made. But none that DefenseReview has read, save one (thank you, get to the core of the problem and discuss why these attacks will likely continue, perhaps even here in the United States.

Even if a country has the most sophisticated and capable anti-terrorism and counterterrorism forces and infrastructure in place–and India doesn’t have anything even close to either of these–they will…

continue to be preyed upon as long as their citizens are forcibly disarmed and their first responders are inadequately armed and trained. That’s just how it is. Understand that this isn’t the good old days (facetious) of a Princess Gate (1980) or Air France Flight 8969 (1994) situation in which terrorists take over a building or aircraft/plane, hold hostages and make demands, giving elite counterrrorism units like the British SAS (Special Air Service) and French GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) time to plan and execute a counterterrorism operation (i.e. a sophisticated, choreographed structural or tubular assault, like in the above cases) before many hostages are killed. No, what we’re dealing with now, and have been dealing with for quite some time, is a jihadist threat where the terrorists kill as many people as they can, as quickly as as they can, much like an active-shooter situation, only with a religious and political purpose and goal instead of just anger and/or revenge.

As I learned when I went through the Advanced Israeli Anti-Terrorist SWAT School course taught by IMS Security in December 2005, if you have an Islamo-fascist jihad-type terrorist (or terrorists, plural) or active shooter (or multiple active shooters) with any level of reasonable shooting and weapons-handling skill, the equation is one hostage per second (that’s one hostage killed every second) for as many seconds as it takes to neutralize the threat (attacker(s)). That’s how many innocent people you should count on losing. So, unless you have an armed anti-terrorism/counterterrorism-trained citizenry/civilian population (i.e. ordinary citizens/civilians who are trained and appropriately armed) and law enforcement (LE) 1st-Responder force (i.e. patrol officers) in all the major cities, how do you expect to stop a terrorist threat before they kill tens to hundreds to even thousands of people, using just small arms, grenades, and IEDs? The answer? You can’t, unless you’re very lucky and/or the terrorists make some serious errors. You have to respond to the threat, and neutralize it, IMMEDIATELY. You simply don’t have time to wait for the cavalry to arrive.  Even if the cavalry arrives, there’s simply no guarantee that they will act quickly and effectively enough to prevent mass carnage.  Forget Mumbai for a second.  Remember Virginia Tech? What about Columbine? Same situations.

Fact: Active shooters need to be met with armed force immediately, preferably by people embedded on scene, inside the building/structure from the outset. You simply can’t wait, nor can you trust, that SWAT will save you.

It’s not a coincidence that it was from an Israeli tactical training firm that I learned what is actually and realisitically necessary to stop a modern, 21st-century terrorist attack. The Israelis are currently the only ones in the world who have a realistic and workable anti-terrorism/counterterrorism infrastructure and solution in place. This is because 1) they’re surrounded by enemies (enemy countries and populations), and therefore truly vulnerable, and 2) they actually care about their citizens and don’t have large populations (i.e. human resources) and/or natural resources on which to rely for self preservation. They don’t have time to screw around, and they simply can’t afford to lose large numbers of people at a time. Remember the two bulldozer terrorist attacks in Israel, earlier this year (2008)? The first was stopped by ordinary frontline Israeli cops (1st Responders) and the second was stopped by an ordinary, yet armed, Israeli citizen, both within a matter of seconds-to-minutes. They were not handled by “elite” LE SWAT or military counterterrorism forces.

And thank God for that, because the simple fact is it takes MUCH longer for an LE SWAT team or military counterterrorism unit to respond and arrive on scene than it does for armed civilians and/or LE 1st responders (patrol officers) who are either right there or in the immediate area, when it occurs. So, as long as countries around the world, including the U.S., forcibly disarm their citizens in the major cities and don’t train their First Responders (frontline patrol officers) and armed citizens (CCWs) in anti-terrorism and counterterrorism tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP), they will continue to be preyed upon by jihadist terrorist groups, and it will only be a matter of time before large U.S. public venues like malls, hotels and stations are targeted and attacked, no matter how good and comprehensive our anti-terrorism/counterterrorism infrastructure. You need armed and trained people there, on the ground, right away, who can immediately respond and neutralize the threat. Period.

Otherwise, you get a Mumbai massacre, Virginia Tech massacre, or some other yet-to-happen massacre while police and/or military forces set up outside, cordon off the area, plan a raid, etc., while innocent, unarmed/disarmed people get killed by the bad guy(s) inside, at the bad guys’ leisure.  Not productive.

The Israelis understand this reality and act accordingly. They’ve had to learn it through hard experience.  The U.S. and other countries must do likewise if they really want to prevent future terrorist incidents like the Mumbai attack(s).  Defense Review isn’t going to hold its breath.

I do realize, of course, that what I’ve written so far (above) is likely to go totally unheeded by the U.S. government and other governments, since it’s in the nature of governments to prioritize controlling their civilian populations over preventing terrorist and criminal attacks. Governments are like living organisms in that they want to continue to survive and thrive and grow. They therefore endeavor to exert as much control as possible over their civilian populations inside their borders, in order to prevent an uprising/rebellion from said population. Most governments (pretty much all governments, actually, save the Israelis) therefore see an armed and trained civilian population as a hindrance to control, not a help, so they will not arm or train their citizens under any circumstances, regardless of the threat that population faces from criminals and/or terrorists.

It’s simple math, really.  A disgruntled or unhappy armed and trained citizenry/civilian population is a greater threat to any government’s continued existence than any terrorist group or criminal population could ever be.  So, most governments would prefer to have their unarmed (and untrained) citizens besieged by terrorists and/or criminals (dual predation, if you will) rather than arm and train them to be able to handle said terrorists and criminals themselves, at the grassroots level.  So, their citizens, in turn, need and clamor for more protection from their government, which then gives the government an excuse–and even a mandate–to put more police and military personnel on the streets, creating more of a police state a.k.a. totalitarian state. This, of course, gives the government even more control over the civilian population (governmental predation on the civilian population, if you will), but still won’t solve the actual problem, as I’ve outlined above. Skeptical? Then read this: Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security. It’s already happening (and has been happening) right here in U.S. If we’re not careful, we’ll soon go the way of England, reduced to subjects rather than citizens, with a CCTV camera on every corner, which is not exactly what our Founding Fathers wanted or envisioned for us.  It would seem that Chicago is already well on its way to achieving this, not that it’s helping their murder rate, any. Control and appearances over actual results, again.

As this is written, India’s government, along with Mumbai’s city government, is in CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode in order to try to blunt the PR (Public Relations) hit as much as possible for being so ineffectual in first preventing and then countering such a public and embarrassing terrorist attack on their soil.  They’ll do the usual government PR cha-cha-cha, and say everything they can to make people believe that they’re doing everything they can to prevent further terrorist attacks, and that they have a plan and forces in place to deal with a future terrorist attack, if/when it occurs.  They will also most likely put forth a potential solution that the Indian public and the rest of the free world will accept.  But, ultimately, it’s looks over substance, where it’s more about the Indian government looking as good and effective as possible, under the circumstances–and saving what’s left of its badly-damaged anti-terrorism/counterterrorism reputation–over a real, substantive solution to the problem, like empowering its people (ordinary citizens/civilians) to be able to deal with these types of threats effectively themselves.  As events from 2001 to the present have proven, ordinary citizens/civilians have to rely on themselves and save their own lives in the 21st-century Islamist extremist terrorist threat scenario.  They can’t simply cannot rely on their government to save them.  Relying on mother government (in this case, the Indian government) to save them is suicide, plain and simple.  But, again, from the Indian government’s perspective, it’s government survival over the survival of their (India’s) citizens and guests.  In other words, business as usual, the status quo preserved…until the next attack, of course.

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Anti-Terrorism Shmanti-Terrorism: The Inherent Counterterrorism Reality in Dealing with the Active-Shooter(s) Scenario by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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