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Terrorism Mindset

Greg Ferency / SWAT Digest

Tonight when the house is quiet go into your child’s room and watch them sleep. Then picture the following scenario in your mind.

It’s another day of the usual. You take your child to school and you are waiting to drop her off. Suddenly, a truckload of armed men (and women) take you and a thousand more adults and students hostage. They herd you into the gym of the school and the horror begins. As you and your child huddle in a corner of your new prison you are suddenly dragged away from their grasp by a terrorist. You are taken into another room and your child listens as you and several others are executed one by one. Now alone your child lays motionless trying not to make a noise – but it does them no good. They are harassed, threatened and taunted until they don’t know what is real and what is not. They strip down to their underwear due to the blistering heat. They drink urine to sustain their life and they pray for someone to come and take them home. After two days of this there is a sudden explosion in the gym. The hostages that are not immediately killed begin to panic and start jumping out of the closest window to them. Gunshots start ringing in the air and everything turns red with blood. Your child is trampled and in the hysteria they finally find room to escape themselves.

Outside air and freedom from the gym does not offer them any comfort. They start following the other hostages in a mad dash for safety. The terrorists begin firing at them from fortified positions in the school. The run becomes a gauntlet of life and bullets. Suddenly a person in uniform grabs them and starts running toward the security of a building, more shots ring out and both the rescuer and your child fall to the ground ………. I will let you finish the scenario from here. Obviously, I hope you give it a happy ending.

This is just one scenario that could and will occur if a Beslan style school takeover happens here in the United States. I am sure this particular occurrence happened to numerous children who were unfortunate enough to find themselves isolated in the Beslan School #1 gym between September 1st and September 3rd, 2004. More times than not it ended in tragedy and grief.

The Russians lost 338 people during this terrorist incident with 172 of them being children. They were fodder for a group of terrorists with a single point to prove – we can get you where it hurts you the most – your kids. Many Americans are not familiar with the Beslan school takeover. The entire 53 hour incident was short blurbs between our fascination with reality TV and following the trials and tribulations of our celebrities. Whenever I mention Beslan to others I usually get – “what happened there” or “didn’t that have something to do with a school”. Our mindset is clearly not where it is supposed to be.

Unfortunately we live in a time where this style of terrorism can strike us at any time. As citizens we expect the government to keep us safe and secure while protecting our civil liberties at the same time. But, terrorism is a crafty entity. Those dedicated and involved with killing us will adjust to whatever they have to and incidents will happen – history tells us that this is a basic fact. So we must adjust with them.

We have the advantage of learning from what happens in other parts of the world and preparing ourselves for similar incidents. For all we know the Beslan school takeover is being planned right now somewhere in the United States. Granted, the Chechen terrorists have a history of this type of take-over. But, terrorists learn from what they have done in the past. They note what mistakes they made and where they had successes. It is our responsibility to do the same. But, we not only need to make these observations – we need to put a plan of action into place to counter what we have learned.

We teach our kids not to talk to strangers. We teach them what to do if they are lost. We teach them everything they need to know to protect them from local predators. We still need to do that. However, we may now be forced to teach them about people who have no other goals in life but to kill and die for a cause that we don’t necessarily understand. This is part of the problem.

The American people are great at responding to dramatic or even catastrophic incidents that occur against us. But, we tend to become a little relaxed and preoccupied before such incidents occur. We revel under our umbrella of comfort of living in a free society. Fortunes and misfortunes of our rich and famous are the news stories of the day, week or month. Relevant topics that are directly related to the safety of our loved ones take a back seat in our lives. Then when a possible threat is exposed we run out and buy gas masks and duct tape.

The following is an example of what I am talking about -- I recall one of the alert levels put out by the Department of Homeland Security. The media showed all these people going out and buying gas masks (Air Purifying Respirators – APR). As someone familiar with the operations of the APR I couldn’t help but to chuckle (in a non-humorous way) as I watched them buy a gas mask for each family member, but what they did not do is buy the cartridges that actually purifies the air they would be breathing. An APR mask without the cartridge is a lopsided paperweight. This is just one example of how our current mindset may eventually become deadly. Reaction without knowledge can be cruel, even with the best intentions.

The United States is not a “Super Power” simply because it is a great country. Its resources come from its people. As an engineer, teacher, accountant, soldier or police officer you may have insight that the rest of us do not. You may be able to look at a situation and see something someone else may have missed. But, you have to study the monsters out there in order to apply what insight you have to combat them.

Greg Ferency
SWAT Digest

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