Terror at Beslan by John Giduck discusses the terrorist attack on Russian school children. The author is a security professional with extensive law enforcement background and the book contains law enforcement related analysis related to the difficulties of handling a hostage situation (or multiple coordinated situations) where the hostage-takers have already determined that they want to cause maximum harm to children.
One very important point that is easy to overlook is how volunteers, many of whom were armed Russian civilians, made the job in Beslan more difficult for the professionals. One role that armed citizens like our local Armed Defense Training Association members can provide- in the event that terrorists ever get hold of a school- is to encourage parents and others at the scene to cooperate with the police. We should also be prepared to conduct surveillance of the environment outside the areas of police control.
The vicinity around the school, including the parents and media people that gather near the school, will almost certainly contain observers working with the terrorists inside the school. Additionally secondary attacks are often planned against first responders. The police will have their own surveillance detection in the area but they can’t see everything.
A few years ago, I attended a class on surveillance detection that was provided jointly by state, local and federal governments at Federal Way City Hall. Just being alert, calm and cooperative with the police helps a great deal. The anxiety and clamor from the public at large can add to the chaos of such a tragedy during rapidly changing situations!
Hopefully, if anything ever happens here, our local ADTA members will have enough credibility with law enforcement and the whole community that we can play a role by just telling anxious parents and other Federal Way residents why we all need to be cooperative, calm and vigilant.
Getting to know your local police so that they know you understand the dynamics of such a situation is important. The professionals need to understand that we are part of the solution and not potential problems like some of the volunteers at Beslan that kept shooting into the school from behind the police lines inadvertently killing some first responders!
I am convinced the U.S. will experience the kind of attacks experienced in Mumbai and Beslan.
Initially, the armed citizen may be the best chance of throwing the plans of the terrorists out of whack. One armed citizen stands little chance of surviving or even stopping the initial attack but, like the author says, there are worst fates than dying violently.
We need training based on realistic scenarios in order to train like we will fight if we knew our kids were going to be tortured and killed!