Monday, March 24, 2014

Surviving Domestic Terrorism

Did you know that the terrorist organization Al Qaeda has its own magazine? Well, they do, and the most recent edition has an article calling on American jihadists to detonate car bombs and suicide vests in major U.S. cities.

Your best chance of surviving a terrorist attack is to understand the tactics used by jihadists. And this article is very open about the strategies to be used. The good news is that this tells us how to avoid becoming a victim. So let’s examine the tactics and see what we can learn.

Specifically, the article urges jihadists to target heavily populated events. That could include major sporting events, political rallies, concerts, or any other activity that attracts large numbers of people into relative confined spaces such as stadiums, shopping malls, or other gathering places.

The plan is to target large numbers of people, not necessarily the buildings. It takes a lot of explosive to bring down a building, but a small amount can do a lot of damage to soft targets like people.

Jihadists are advised to disguise themselves so they fit in with the crowd. You won’t see them wearing their traditional clothing and beards. They might be wearing extra layers of clothing to make them appear fat, because they think most American’s are fat, and because that is also a good way to conceal a suicide vest.

During periods of celebration, jihadists are instructed to disguise themselves and join in the festivities, wearing clothing appropriate for the occasion.

So, how can we use this knowledge to help us avoid becoming a victim? This is kind of a Bad News / Good News thing.

The bad news is that, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, there’s not a thing in the world you can do to avoid either being injured or killed by the explosive shock wave or the shrapnel created by a bomb blast. You can’t outrun it, and you can’t duck fast enough once there’s been an explosion. When the detonation happens, everything is pure luck at that point.

The good news is that you can avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you’re willing to make some changes in your life patterns.

The best strategy is to simply not be in a target zone at the wrong time. That sounds easy on paper, but it takes planning, effort and some sacrifice to keep yourself out of potentially dangerous situations. It means you have to be thoughtful about the places you go and the activities you engage in.

Avoid unusually large crowds, especially during holiday celebrations. Avoid major sporting events, and political rallies. Take a lesson from what happens in Israel when there are bomb attacks. Restaurants, theaters, and shopping mall food courts during peak hours are all likely times and places for a terrorist to strike.

If you use mass transit, find alternative ways to get where you’re going. Busses, subways and trains are especially vulnerable, because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel — you’re trapped in a crowded space, and you’re an easy target. Remember, a jihadist is hoping to take out the greatest number of people possible with a single blast.

So the number one rule is to avoid being in large crowds. That might mean you have to give up some of the activities you want to do. But if that’s what it takes to stay safe in a world where holy war has been declared against you just because you’re an American, it’s probably worth the sacrifice. It’s a decision you have to make.

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