The Manchester suicide bombing: What it means and what you can do
ISIS is claiming that they carried out the terror attack at the end of the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. So far, the police say that 22 are confirmed dead and this death toll could rise, Putting together a suicide vest shows a fairly high degree of sophistication and points to the existence of terror cell operating in the area. What it also shows is an evolution tactics and capabilities. The first time I saw an attack similar to this one was in Baghdad when a suicide bomber attempted to get into a soccer match at a stadium just south of the Ministry of Interior around 2011 or 2012. I remember thinking that if they ever figure out how to breach event security there is going to be real problems. Unfortunately, it looks like they have. So far in the west, the screening process at concert and sporting venue gates has prevented bombers from getting in. The first notable stadium attack was in Paris on Nov 13th 2015 at the Stade de France stadium as France played Germany and was the initiation of a multi-day and multi-cell cell attack that killed hundreds. However, in Baghdad, an ISIS suicide bomber made good on getting in at a soccer match in March of 2016 killing hundreds more by detonating a suicide vest. The ability to prevent suicide bombers from gaining entry in the west into stadiums by effective screening processes can lower the likelihood of an attack inside, However, that does not mean that they do not have a readily accessible opportunity for targeting. There are 2 critical windows of opportunity for terrorists during an event.
“In Chaos there is opportunity”
As the Manchester Stadium bombing shows, the bomber did not gain entry into the concert, What he did however was exploit the weakness in event security which is before the event begins as crowds gather to gain entry and at the end when people are exiting the venues. There’s an old axiom that is the backbone of strategic planning for a practitioner of asymmetrical warfare. That is “In Chaos there is Opportunity” Strategically speaking, a terrorist can maximize the damage during both of these times because people are funneled into large crowds by the very nature of queuing up in a line to get in and out. Unfortunately, He or she can also force these crowds into other choke points for follow on attacks, There’s also the reality that incidental victims and mass casualties can occur due people getting trampled to death as people try to flee. This attack will have some fairly significant ramifications for Law Enforcement and security teams tasked with protecting sporting and concert venues. While you can never guarantee 100% success, What you can do is take some effective steps to limit a terrorists opportunity without breaking the bank!
Here are three quick tips:
These tips are not only for security teams, If you are reading this and like most people enjoy great day at the park or enjoy a concert, Unfortunately there are certain realities that we must face and act accordingly. One of the best deterrents available is keenly alert citizenry that abides by the “See something say something” rule. Below is what to look for!
Look at the clothing of people attending an event. Are they dressed for the event and the weather? Someone attending a concert should look like someone attending the event. Their clothing should fit their body type and the weather. What you are looking for are outliers, Things that are inconsistent with everyone else. Is their body type bulky while their facial features and legs are of someone who is thin? as an example.
2. Back packs:
Most venues prohibit them. Why would someone be sporting a backpack at an event where they know they will not be allowed to gain entry? Not every person with a backpack is a suicide bomber, but observing them while they are well away from the entry/exit points allows for greater scrutinization and just may reveal what their intentions are.
Someone preparing for an attack will have a decidedly different behavior pattern and demeanor. In many cases the actual suicide bomber will be sweating profusely and they will have a blank stare. Their hands will be close to their sides or in their pockets. You may see that their face will appear to be unusually pale. In many cases, a suicide bomber will have a handler escorting them to the venue to make sure they carry out the attack and may possibly have a remote detonation ability if the bomber chickens out. This person will be orbiting the periphery of a crowd watching intently to see that the bomber is able to gain entry. Their demeanor is also provides an opportunity to intercept. Concerts and sporting events are traditionally happy events and you should see a lot of smiles and interaction by attendees with their fellow event goers. Both the actual bomber and a handler may not exhibit these normal behaviors. In most cases, the suicide bomber will be by themselves, Though they may try to infiltrate a small group, they will not have the normal interaction consistent with friendship or kinship.
In summary, You’re looking for a cluster of clues. One of the above signs does not mean you have a suicide bomber, but a cluster of clues should put you on alert. Remember that prevention starts well beyond the entry/exit points. It’s in setting attendance guidelines by the venue of what you can and cannot bring in that limit opportunities, in dedicating observation teams beyond the metal detectors so you can detect the tell-tale outlier behaviors before it’s too late and lastly, Knowing that you are a potential target. Large groups of people make for an inviting target. Make sure that your observation capabilities training and your procedures are good and that you look for potential weaknesses in the venue? Find them and then avoid or fix them!