I ask this question because in 2012 I wrote a Ballsy Thinking piece entitled (see here) “ROI Terrorism, a Smouldering Issue” which posited that smart terrorists don’t need to go for massive spectaculars to get the scary media coverage that they crave. They can attack weak parts of our national life and infrastructure and get a much better ‘terror return’ on their efforts. Whether because of the great work of our security services or an inability to organise it does seem that our terrorist foes have decided to adopt a variant of this approach – the “Terrorism of Things”. In fact, yesterday's Sunday Times informs us that "ISIS has called on supporters 'behind enemy lines' in Britain to embark on a wave of spontaneous attacks that the authorities will struggle to spot in advance." (see full article below)
As a former soldier who fought terrorism (photo above) I carried a gun and went into certain areas to patrol British streets expecting to be attacked in any manner of ways. Today, I do not travel to London or to other western cities or towns expecting to be attacked but I am at least conscious of the possibility. Here is my personal strategy for being ready for the Terrorism of Things:
1. Be aware of your surroundings. I am as bad as anyone at having my head in a screen but I watch who gets on the tube at every stop when I’m underground and check out my surroundings before I sit down at a restaurant. A few years ago I would have added as a separate point here “assess the likelihood of your location as a target”. Are you in a government owned or militarily connected building for example. However, importantly, in the age of ToT anywhere can be a target. Just ask those enjoying the promenade in Nice.
3. Think about what objects that you can weaponise. Look around you right now. What can you use to get back at your attackers if you are trapped and cannot run away. First what can you throw at them to keep them back if they are not carrying firearms. Second, how can you hurt them in a close quarter struggle. Bog standard glasses are good things to throw – the heavier the better (bring back smoking as ash trays were heavy and tailor made for this purpose). If your attacker is advancing on you, knives, forks, bottles (especially those with long necks) make good weapons. Even a rolled up magazine or Sunday supplement can cause damage (stab rather than swing). In short, turn back a ToT attack if you can by using the same principles against an attacker.
I am fortunate to be connected through LinkedIn with some of the best minds combating terrorism. I’m not sure how many would endorse the content of this article. What I can endorse however, is the attitude that no matter how young or old you are, if your luck runs out (and let’s face it the chances of you being caught up in a ToT attack are very, very low) and you can’t get away, go down fighting. If as many people as possible do this, we can decrease the return on investment from Terrorism of Things attacks that our enemies hope to accrue and increase deterrence. That's got to be a good thing.
From the Sunday Times 9 August 2016