Terrorism is all around us. While the terror attacks of recent history have happened overseas, this was only a convenience for terrorists, as the targets were closer.
Is the threat real?
The embassy bombings in Yemen, the U.S.S. Cole, and beheadings in Iraq and Afghanistan were all extremely easy for terrorists to plot and plan since the targets were in their “back yard.” Terrorism inside the borders of the United States is not something the average American thinks about, but they should.
America’s borders are porous. In addition, there is a problem with the doctrine behind our screening procedures. Couple those two things with the State Department’s lack of initiative in deporting individuals who have overstayed their visas, and we could have a preponderance of radical Islamist terror cells all over the United States.
Looking back at what terrorists are capable of and through proper risk assessment, threat analysis, and imagination, individuals and communities can possibly thwart some of these attacks and properly prepare for the aftermaths of attacks.
There are numerous ways to mitigate or stay clear of these threats on a personal, small group, and community level by preparation, planning, training and equipping individuals properly.
Understanding the importance of preparation
Terrorists and radical Islamists can be anywhere. They can be teachers in schools, work in the same building as others, live on the same street, and even be neighbors. Preparing and planning for a terroristic threat or attack takes more than listening to the news and waiting to be told what to do by local leaders or government officials.
Personal preparation is the first step in staying alive and mobile in a state of emergency caused by terrorists. Regardless of the numerous threats posed by terrorists today, one cannot help others if one is not personally prepared for any and all occasions of terrorism.
Planning and preparation are not difficult by any means, but they do take time, energy, effort, and resources. This may seem troublesome to some individuals, even costly, but protecting one’s self and family are paramount in terroristic situations.
For those individuals without any background in preparation, planning, or training for emergencies or terroristic events, there is a multitude and a myriad of information available.
Individuals can ask about what hazards are most likely to occur, what and where shelters are located, where the evacuation routes for emergencies are, whether there are opportunities for training, whether there are community and individual plans for emergencies, and how individuals can obtain copies of those plans.
Most individuals are in the mindset that it cannot happen to them, but when disaster strikes and terrorists attack, individuals should be forewarned and forearmed.
Individuals can check their vehicles for proper maintenance. Mechanics can check for proper brakes, exhaust, fuel, air filters, heater, lights, oil, thermostat, tires, windshield wipers, and proper tread and inflation on the tires.
A good rule of thumb is a half a tank is an empty tank. Every vehicle should contain an emergency kit containing the following: at least a three-ton jack, four-way lug wrench, flashlight, duct tape, tool kit (wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.), tow straps, jumper cables, extra fluid (oil, transmission, brake, radiator, etc.), five gallons of water, one box of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs), one thousand rounds of extra ammo for family-owned firearms, batteries, solar charger, crank radio, tire inflation pump, power inverter, small can for carrying fuel, blankets, fire starting kit, water purification kit, and a tire plug and patch kit. If you have an SUV, consider a winch, push bumper, first aid kit, and common over-the-counter medicines.
While the vehicle is parked at a residence, it is important to point the vehicle facing outward in case individuals need to leave at a moment’s notice. This will preclude individuals from having to back out away from the residence, and allow them to immediately drive away instead.
When driving, adhere as much to the rules of the road as possible. Others may be in too much of a hurry and drive recklessly. Drive both offensively and defensively at the same time. Check mirrors and not only focus on where the destination is, but also what is around you.
When stopping, the driver should be able to see the bottom of the rear tires in front of them. In case of an emergency, this will afford the driver the ability to turn left or right without backing up.
Once the vehicle is prepared, the individual or family can prepare a bag to go. This type of bag has many names: “zombie bag,” “ready bag,” or simply “go bag/ruck.” In case of an emergency, this bag will be the only thing you will grab when an attack happens.
There will be no need to ransack the house to find items that individuals may need. All that is necessary is to grab the bag and depart. In this bag will be the things that individuals need for the immediate future (three to five days).
This bag should include, but not be limited to: canned food or MREs for at least three days, one gallon of water per person per day, clothing essentials, including a strong pair of denim jeans or strong pants, warm clothes, extra socks and underwear, good working boots, work gloves, extra shirts and pants, foul-weather clothing, and hygiene kits.
Once food, water, and clothing are prepared, other items required should include: extra batteries, antibacterial wipes, a tent large enough for all individuals, inclement weather gear, a rechargeable or hand-crank radio, and any other items individuals deem necessary, such as ammo, weapons, a hatchet, cash, etc.
While all individuals are not going to be familiar with weapons, they are nonetheless an integral set of items that should be taken in an emergency evacuation caused by a terroristic attack. Depending on what individuals are comfortable with, many guns can be found at any local gun store.
Ensure the handgun has enough ammunition, should the instance arise that it is necessary. Rifles can also be used in an emergency situation with a terrorist attack, should individuals encounter terrorists while traveling. Any AR-15 model or equivalent is preferred, but as with handguns, it is up to the individual and what they prefer.
With weapons and ammunition, there are a multiple ways to carry them. There are several configurations regarding tactical vests to carry ammunition and other weapons-related material. As before, it is what the individual is comfortable with.
Hopefully, individuals will never need weapons or ammunition; however, it is better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. If weapons are to be necessary, personal body armor will be also on the list regarding weapons.
While body armor is not the first item on the list for terrorist preparation, and may not be necessary or out of the price range for some individuals, it is something to consider. The extra ammunition for the weapon(s) should be stored in a smaller bag in a predetermined area of the vehicle. Extra ammunition (one thousand rounds per caliber) should not be stored in the “go bag.”
Some of the personal mitigations for terrorists are extremely simple and should be incorporated into everyday living.
Encourage security awareness in your family and discuss what to do if there is a security threat.
Be alert for suspicious persons or activities, and report them to the proper authorities. Trust your gut feelings. That’s called counter-surveillance.
Vary personal routines whenever possible. Even driving routes.
Develop the habit of checking in to let your friends and family know where you are or when to expect you. Enforce this for your loved ones.
Improvise and set up simple signal systems that would alert family members or associates that there is a danger. Once implemented, do not share this information with anyone not involved in your signal system.
Always carry forms of identification showing your blood type and any special medical conditions.
Watch for unexplained absences of local citizens since these can be an early warning of possible terrorist actions.
Keep wills current, have powers of attorney drawn up, take measures to ensure family’s financial security, and develop a plan for family actions in the event you are taken hostage. This is a common tactic of Narco terrorists in South/Central America.
Have a clear view of approaches to your home, egress routes, high ground, vantage points, points of hardcover, redundant communications, secure power, and water sources, internal generators and excess water, motion-sensitive lighting, and cameras for blind spots.
Install strong doors and locks and reinforced hinges, and perhaps internal gates.
Change locks when you move in or when a key is lost. A backup digital door lock is also a good idea.
Windows should not allow easy access and should be laminated as to prevent shattering.
Have adequate lighting outside your house.
Create the appearance that the house is occupied by using timers to control lights and radios while you are away.
Install one-way viewing devices in doors.
Install intrusion detection alarms and smoke and fire alarms Do not hide keys or give them to very young children.
Never leave young children at home alone.
Never admit strangers to your home without proper identification.
Teach children how to call the police, and ensure that they know what to tell the police (name, address, etc.).
Do not place your name on exterior walls of residences.
Close draperies during periods of darkness. Draperies should be opaque and made of heavy material.
Avoid frequent exposure on balconies and in windows.
Consider owning a dog to discourage intruders.
Never accept unexpected package deliveries.
Don’t let your trash become a source of information. Make a separate bag for shredding documents. Your bank may do this complementarily.
All of these aforementioned items can be utilized on a daily basis without changing an individual’s lifestyle completely. Communication and awareness are key to personal mitigation of terrorist threats.
Now that the vehicle(s) and individuals are ready, there should be a plan on where to go. Individuals should create out-of-town contacts that they can call or e-mail in case of an emergency. This is a reciprocal relationship. In case of an emergency where they live, they can come to you as well. They should be far enough away that they are not affected by the same event.
Reacting to disaster
In case the terrorist attack happens during the day when members of he family are scattered (at work, home, school, etc.) there should be a predetermined meeting place for all to meet. This will save time and minimize confusion.
Since the home is protected, and the vehicle and “go bag” are ready to go, ensure plans are in place for work and school. Individual employers should have an emergency action plan in case of an attack. Knowing what this is, and planning this with coworkers as well as one’s family, will cause less stress and anxiety in a situation that already has plenty of both. Not only employers, but also schools should have an emergency action plan for children while at school.
Asking for a copy of the school’s plan is not only wise, but prudent as well. Knowing where children are in case of an emergency will save time, effort, and energy while looking for them or asking a school administrator.
There are many types of attacks we can expect from terrorists. While we cannot be prepared for everything all of the time, we can be prepared for a general terrorist attack as best we can.
A financial attack from terrorists can come in different forms. Terrorists could perform a coordinated attack on major financial institutions through the Internet via cyber-warfare. Since large banks have a very elaborate encryption on their hardware and software, cyber-terrorists may find this challenging.
However, since most large banks are connected to smaller banks, these smaller banks could be used as a gateway into the larger banks’ computer systems.
Another way terrorists could cripple the financial world would be to park a large vehicle filled with a “dirty bomb” (high explosives mixed with plutonium or highly enriched uranium) just outside the financial district in New York City, or other major financial hub. This type of bomb is high on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list for terrorists to utilize.
Either format of attack could cripple the banking procedures and put individuals’ financial resources on hold for the immediate future. Consider alternate forms of currency, like ammo, cigarettes, alcohol, or even gold coins.
Many individuals will not have access to banks or credit cards, and individuals without enough cash may find themselves in a financial bind and not have the basic necessities for living. Ensuring there is enough cash reserves in the residence will ensure that necessary items can be purchased.
The government may or may not be able to help, since it will be spending money on fixing the disaster or preparing for another coordinated attack.
Setting aside cash reserves within the residence is extremely important. Each individual or household will need differing amounts. Two to three thousand dollars might be adequate for the immediate future. However, this is dependent on how many individuals are utilizing the funds.
While it may be unlikely, there is a chance that terrorists could take over a small city within the United States and claim it as their own, holding all within as hostages in their jihad against the West.
There would need to be a great number of terrorists and/or radical Muslim extremists to take over a small city. Some Americans would say that there could not possibly be enough radical Islamists to perform such a task, but as stated in the very beginning, terrorism and terrorists are all around us.
Regarding chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) attacks, there are multiple possible scenarios. The biological suicide attack is of major concern. In this instance, a radical Muslim is injected with a deadly virus from his home country or a sympathizing country and sent on a plane to the United States.
Not only will the terrorist infect the individuals on the plane, but before he or she dies of the virus, he or she will come in contact with and infect as many individuals as possible.
This type of attack is nearly impossible to mitigate, but there are some steps that can be done for a more proactive approach.
To begin with, ensure all individuals’ shots are up to date while consulting with a physician. Children and older adults are more susceptible and vulnerable to biological agents.
Installing high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters in the home and workplace will help with toxic agents. These filters remove particles between .03 and .10 microns, and should filter out any biological agents.
If there is ever any doubt that an individual has come into contact with a biological agent, immediately take off all clothes, place them in a plastic bag, and shower with soap and water. Put on fresh clothes and seek medical attention.
If there is a contamination in another part of the United States, do not think that this does not apply to other areas of America. There have been multiple instances of coordinated attacks, and a biological attack is not any different regarding other forms of coordinated attacks that radical Islamists use.
Plague and smallpox can be transmitted by inhalation alone and the incubation period is less than 5 days. Viral hemorrhagic fever can be easily transmitted by physical contact and takes effect immediately. These are some of the biological agents that are known. With advancing technology, there is the possibility of more harmful and easily transmitted agents in the near future.
The United States Coast Guard motto is “Semper Paratus,” meaning “always ready.” Citizens of the United States can learn from this. Being prepared is more than just having all the essential equipment to evacuate, being up to date on inoculations, or physically fighting terrorists and radical Muslims; it is a state of mind.
Always keep alert when driving and in public places. Keep doors locked and monitor what is going on in the immediate area. Be on the lookout (BOLO) for things and people that seem out of place. Trust “gut instincts” and rely on physical evidence as well. Being prepared is the first step toward protecting oneself and one’s family.
Suggested prepping learning: