Street terror, counter tactics

lone terrorist attacks on the streets of major cities - a new strategy of international terrorism, the causes and consequences, how to resist this, tactics, forces, means, methods

 Street terrorism - a global threat to human security, ways to counter

Street terror, counter tactics - lone terrorist attacks on the streets of major cities - a new strategy of international terrorism, the causes and consequences, how to resist this, tactics, forces, means, methods

part 1. Description of the existing threat, causes, consequences, development prospects.
Recent events in Europe have clearly shown that extremists have finally decided on the tactics of Street Terror. In the past year alone, there have been 10 such attacks.
- 24 November 2020, Lugano (Switzerland), knife attack, 2 injured;
- November 02, 2020, Vienna, attack with the use of firearms, 5 dead, 22 wounded;
- October 29, 2020, Nice, a knife attack, 3 dead;
- October 16, 2020, Paris, a knife attack, 1 dead;
- October 04, 2020, Dresden, a knife attack, 1 dead, 1 wounded;
- October 12, 2020, Zagreb, attack with the use of firearms, 1 wounded;
- September 25, 2020, Paris, a knife attack, 2 wounded;
- February 19, 2020, Hanau (Germany), attack with the use of firearms, 10 dead, 5 wounded;
- February 02, 2020, London, a knife attack, 2 wounded;
- November 29, 2019, London, a knife attack, 2 dead;
The statistics are terrible, but I will assume that this list of terrorist acts and people injured in them, unfortunately, will not end, but will only grow.
It is worth noting that the tactics used by terrorists are nothing new and do not apply to the phenomena of the 21st century. The foundations of Street Terror were formed into a clear system and detailed in his book «A Short Textbook of Urban Gerilla» by Carlus Marigella back in 1969. This book can be considered a fundamental textbook for modern terrorists, who have only slightly modernized this textbook, taking into account technological progress and the modern conditions of urban development. In addition to ways, the goals changed, Marigella was a staunch revolutionary, and he wrote his book for his associates, focused exclusively on political struggle, with the ultimate goal of changing the political course. Therefore, if Marigella's main targets of attacks were, as a rule, specific individuals (top government officials, politicians, representatives of the army and police leadership), it was emphasized that in the execution of such actions, collateral damage should either be eliminated completely or minimized. Terrorists have the opposite goals and approaches to achieving their goals, the main targets of attacks in most cases are ordinary people who simply ended up on the street, in a church, school, cafe or shopping center at that time. For supporters of terrorist organizations, it is the number of victims that is important, the higher it is, the better, the greater the fear in the eyes and minds of the inhabitants will cause their terrorist action.
It must be recognized that building an effective system to counter such threats is becoming more difficult, because terrorists also learn from their mistakes and draw conclusions from their successes and failures. And it should be noted that they learn quite diligently and successfully, so you should not underestimate them.

The tactics of «Street Terror» have a number of advantages:
1. Low vulnerability.
Complex, large-scale terrorist attacks, developed by sabotage specialists and executed by groups of professionally trained extremists, have already become rare for developed countries. The anti-terrorism services, using their experience, methods of intelligence and operational work and the achievements of modern technologies, have learned to prevent them at the training stage. The fact is that the preparation of such terrorist acts requires time and resources, which means the movement of people, money, weapons, explosives, safe houses, logistics, communications, coordination, all this leaves many traces, forms entire chains of connections, actions and circumstances, most of which special services can track and intercept. The principle is simple: the more traces, the more vulnerable the scheme.
In the cases of Street Terror, when attacks are carried out by lone terrorists, the situation is completely different, a significant part of the attacks they committed were rather spontaneous, without lengthy preliminary training, where another, often also unplanned event served as the catalyst (as in the case of the murder of a teacher in Paris). Most of the attacks were not carried out by professional criminals, but by fanatics who fully understood that they themselves would also be killed during the execution of the terrorist act. Most often, the criminals acted not as part of the group, but alone. Another important point on which I would like to focus is that - terrorist acts were carried out not by personal order, but more often under the influence of a general message of an extremist organization (or its leader, formal or informal) addressed at once to all its supporters. The leadership of a terrorist organization issues a message calling for killings or other violent actions, then this message is distributed to video services, social networks and instant messengers, as well as through mass mailings by e-mail and other means of communication. The calculation is made, not on a specific performer, but on the fact that one of the fanatical supporters will take this message as an instruction for action. He is armed with firearms or knives, or uses a car (other vehicle) as a weapon and goes outside to kill people.
The main difficulty in preventing such crimes is that in most cases these lone terrorists operate without the previous long training period. They almost never share their plans with anyone, and the few preparatory activities that they sometimes carry out before a terrorist act are carried out very covertly for outsiders, without causing much suspicion.
To put it simply, they do not commit all the actions that State and international anti-terrorist services can use to identify signs of the preparation of terrorist acts at an early stage and have time to prevent them.

2. Low cost.
In this case, the extremist organization itself, which is a «spiritual inspiration» and directs its supporters to carry out terrorist acts, in fact, does not incur any large financial costs. All costs are limited only to hiring specialists in the field of personal psychology, to write motivating appeals and specialists in the field of modern technologies to actively disseminate these appeals through all available communication channels, bypassing existing systems to counter extremism on the Internet. But even these costs are becoming less and less every year, now, instead of hiring from the side, terrorist organizations have their own specialists with excellent Western education, necessary experience and access to any information and advanced technology.
The execution of the actions itself does not cost extremist organizations almost nothing, the performer does not need to pay a fee, because in 99.9% of cases when executing a terrorist attack he will die or be detained, he also acquires tools of crime for his money or kidnaps right before the action. In rare cases, small expenses arise to pay modest compensation to the terrorist's family, but this is not a frequent occurrence.

3. Human resource.
The almost uncontrolled flow of refugees from countries where external and internal armed conflicts occur will allow supporters of extremist exercises and organizations to easily enter the countries of Europe, the USA, Canada, etc. It should also be borne in mind that in the countries where the flows of refugees come state authorities and law enforcement services are virtually absent. This allows supporters of terrorist organizations to produce and use any type of documents, passports and other types of identity cards of these countries, because it is almost impossible to verify the fact of their authenticity and actual belonging to the owner, often such requests remain unanswered, and sometimes there is simply nowhere to request. All this creates favorable conditions for agents of influence of extremist organizations, which easily move around the world and carry out propaganda work not only among refugees, but also among citizens of Western countries. This is directly facilitated by refugee camps and ethnically homogeneous areas of large cities, where representatives of one national, religious or cultural community live compactly. This compactness and homogeneity is a breeding ground for extremists and seriously complicates the activities of the police and other law enforcement agencies. It should also be borne in mind that most refugees and residents of such ethnically homogeneous neighbourhoods do not have a normal education, profession and permanent work. All this allows representatives of terrorist organizations to easily find new adherents for their gradual transformation into religious or political fanatics and their subsequent use in terrorist attacks. Today, there are dozens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of such potential lone terrorists scattered around the cities of Europe, the USA, Canada, etc.
This threat has deep roots of social, cultural, religious and political nature, it arose long enough and what we are seeing today is the result of many processes that last more than a dozen years. In its socio-political basis, this situation does not have a quick solution, worse, the fact that today there is no clear understanding of how to solve this problem and whether there is a real strategy for solving it. In any case, it will take a long time and all this time terrorist acts will be committed, innocent people will suffer, and innocent people will die, and extremist organizations will keep the whole world in fear. It shouldn't be like that.
In medicine, there is a good approach to such situations while representatives of medical science in research centers and academies study the disease and look for a way to prevent and treat it, doctors in conventional hospitals unable to cure the disease direct efforts to to relieve the symptoms and consequences that it causes, thereby alleviating the condition of the patient and giving him a chance to live to the moment when the method of treatment is found. This approach can well be applied to this situation, in the activities of the police and other law enforcement agencies, and services. Let everyone do their own thing, politicians and scientists seek and implement methods of influencing social, political, cultural and religious causes to eliminate the basics of this threat, as long as they do, law enforcement agencies must ensure the proper level of protection of citizens from its consequences. Currently, there is no effective system to counter such threats and will not appear in the near future, so the Street Terror actions will continue in the near future, people will die and be injured, the authorities will make loud, but unfounded statements, and tension in society will increase.
In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this phenomenon:
1. In recent years, the expert community has been very interested in finding global and complex solutions, while ignoring the simpler possibilities that lie on the surface. Of course, the search for causes is very important, but while experts and political scientists talk about the causes and are engaged in the search for the guilty, terrorists at this time continue to maim and kill people.
2. So popular today and actively promoted by certain political and financial circles «Technical Revolution,» which began the active introduction of police and other law enforcement services into the system. At the first stage, there really was great benefit from this, the police, equipped with modern equipment, multiply increased their effectiveness: the number of crimes committed began to decline, and the number and quality of crimes solved began to increase. However, in the future, the situation began to change, firstly: the criminals themselves mastered the capabilities of modern technologies and took them into service, and also mastered ways to protect themselves from special equipment used by the police. Secondly: the «Technical Revolution» began the next stage, now another idea is being put forward, not to equip the policeman with modern equipment, but to replace it with modern technologies. Of course, in some areas of police work, this was really possible, especially where routine, work with papers and reports, but supporters of this idea went further and began to actively promote more radical decisions. For example, replace some police officers who serve on the streets with video surveillance systems. I will not talk much about the use of modern technologies in security matters, I will only say that I am deeply convinced that in this direction the equipment can perfectly complement the capabilities of the police officer, become an excellent tool in his hands, but can never replace it.
My categorical position is based on a simple example. Answer the question - When an armed criminal attacked you on the street, will a video camera be able to come to your aid, stop the criminal, stop his actions, provide first aid to you before the doctors arrive? I think the answer is quite obvious. In relation to the current situation of Street Terror, the replacement of police with video cameras is an additional assistance to the terrorist in the implementation of his plans. One: he will have more time to kill and injure the maximum number of people, the second: the cameras will record the entire process of a terrorist act. Then the recordings will go to television and the Internet, which will actually turn the terrorist attack into a television show that tens and hundreds of millions of people will see, and this is one of the main goals of terrorism. For most people in the world, when they hear the word «Terrorism,» before their eyes there are shots of aircraft hitting the building of the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001. For ordinary people, this video causes a sense of fear, pain and compassion, for terrorists it is a video of their triumph, a kind of commercial thanks to which they are known around the world.

Conclusion: in the coming years, terrorist organizations will actively use and improve the tactics of Street Terror. There will be terrorist attacks and numerous casualties, all this will continue until the approach to building a system to counter such threats is radically changed.

Part 2. Ways to counter.
As mentioned above, it is extremely difficult to prevent Street Terror actions, but it is also difficult to predict them, despite the fact that the methods of such forecasts exist. But the problem is that forecasting in this direction is still in the initial stage, so the ranges of periods of increased danger for such forecasts will be blurred, and the error rate is too high. Such methods can be used in the planning of preventive measures, but their effectiveness is still at a low level, but it is necessary to continue work in this direction.
To develop a system to counter Street Terror, you need to study a potential opponent and evaluate his characteristics, where and how he acts:
place - streets, public places, objects with a mass stay of people;
time - selected according to the principle of human activity at the point of alleged attack;
objects of attack - mainly random people, less often representatives of a social, ethnic, religious, political, professional or other group, in extremely rare, in some cases - specific individuals;
method - unexpected for victims, quick, aggressive actions aimed at causing maximum damage to the life and health of a large number of people;
weapon - use of cold or firearm, standard or improvised explosive devices with striking elements, less often use of vehicles as a weapon of crime;
performer - is in most cases one person, less often a group (cases of attacks committed by several terrorists in the same city and at the same time, but who did not have a preliminary agreement about this and are not familiar with each other, are not excluded).
Given the above features, methods similar to those used to combat street crime are quite suitable to counter Street Terror. These tactical schemes and models developed over the years can be used as a basis, but in this case they will require serious modernization. Despite the similarity in most parameters, an ordinary street robber and a street terrorist have a fundamental difference in both goals and motivation.
An ordinary criminal - in most cases, pursues only material goals: to seize someone else's money, car or other valuable property. But, importantly, an ordinary criminal does not want to be caught, but he admits the likelihood of his arrest, so when committing a crime he tries not to aggravate his situation with excessive cruelty, so he tries to limit himself only to threats, without causing the victim real physical harm. He chooses the time and place of the crime, taking into account the maximum secrecy, the absence of unnecessary witnesses and technical means of control and security.
The terrorist - his motives are completely different, he does not care at all about the material side of the issue. His goal is to kill as many people as possible and to do it defiantly, in a crowded place, in front of a large number of witnesses. In most cases, the terrorist is aware that in the course of the execution of his action he is most likely to be killed or arrested, but this does not bother him, the goals set for him by a terrorist organization or ideology are much more important than his own life.
All this must be taken into account when developing tactics to counter this threat, as well as determining the forces and means that will have to implement this tactic in practice.

Forces and means
Probably, for the first time in history, the main role in countering the terrorist threat will not be given to investigators or detectives, but to police officers from police patrol units that serve to protect public order on the streets and in other public places. In the new reality, it is the officers of the patrol services and police units who will first of all have to learn how to identify street terrorists at an early stage and quickly neutralize them. However, practice shows that today, in situations related to Street Terror, the police in most cases do not act at all as required by the situation, as a result of which the terrorist manages to cause death or injury to more people. All this indicates that in recent years, the situation and the nature of threats on the streets and in other public places have changed dramatically. Now it is not only hooliganism, robbery and theft, now it is also terrorism. This means that the same (response), changes are needed in the police. The need for radical changes in the system of training and organization of the activities of police patrol units is long overdue, because it is they who will now be entrusted with one of the main tasks to protect citizens from Street Terror.
Almost everything will have to be changed in the system, because in dozens, and somewhere and hundreds of years in the organization of the police patrol service, little has changed: they moved from carts and horses to cars, and instead of whistles they began to use radio stations.
First, this is the status, in the police system of most countries, patrol units are considered a grassroots link, where minimum requirements are put forward for candidates, they have the lowest ranks and salaries. For them, the most basic level of professional training is used, and they are sent to patrol officers when they are demoted or want to punish. This model is out of date based on the current situation.
I believe that taking into account the current situation, as well as the current and promising level of threats, changes in the system should be carried out in the following areas:

1. Completing
In view of the changed tasks for the police patrol service, the requirements for candidates should be significantly strengthened. Major changes should be made to the evaluation characteristics primarily of intellectual development, the candidate should have a higher (than established by current requirements) level of intelligence, a good response, a high level of resistance to stressful situations and less susceptible emotionally. If we compare, then in terms of their moral, business and intellectual characteristics, a candidate for patrol must be equated with the requirements that are imposed on candidates for special forces.

2. Financing
Increasing the requirements for patrol personnel will also require an increase in their salaries. With the existing level of pay, candidates with the necessary qualification requirements will not go to patrol officers. How and where to find funds for this, the authorities must decide for themselves, this is a matter of setting priorities. Part of the money can be found at the expense of countering terrorism, because now patrol units will be assigned an important role in this work.

3. Training, initial training, advanced training
This area should be given special attention, the initial training course for patrol personnel should be seriously supplemented by the following training disciplines:
- Actions of the police officer to neutralize the terrorist threat in case of large crowds. All existing police experience (good practices in this regard are available to the Israeli police) should be analysed and considered to quickly neutralize a terrorist using: a cold or firearm, an explosive device, a vehicle or other object used as a means of committing a terrorist act on the street or in another public place. The lesson should include not only the study of specially developed protocols of actions in such cases, but also practical exercises in the conditions of streets and landfills with modeling of various situations and scenarios. All this must be worked out, before automatism, not only as part of the initial training of new employees, but also during periodic classes and training for existing patrol police officers. Each policeman should clearly know the entire algorithm of actions when receiving a signal about the commission of an act of «Street Terror.» He will not have time to think, discuss, consult or wait for help, every second of delay can cost the lost health or life of people who have become victims of terrorist aggression. To stop the threat, you can only neutralize the terrorist, the policeman must know what to do and how to do it.
- Psychological analysis of criminal behavior. This section of criminal psychology was previously more in demand by specialists from the departments for combating especially serious crimes and serial killers. However, under the new conditions, it becomes one of the most important in the training of officers of the patrol services and units. Of course, they will not need the entire curriculum, the patrol do not need the skills of deep analysis and profiling, but they need to study the primary signs and external manifestations of criminal intentions. It is this section that needs to be highlighted in a separate direction with the development of a detailed and effective curriculum. This program should meet the main task - to teach police officers effective techniques for identifying people with criminal intentions in a stream.

* I understand the possible skepticism, filtering the human flow in order to identify persons with suspicious behavior, using behavioral analysis methods, is at first glance ineffective, and an experienced criminal will easily bypass it. I will not object, this is really so if it is a professional. But in this case, we consider the situation with completely different actors, those for whom this crime is the first, and most likely will be the last in their lives, and the terrorist himself understands this. Accordingly, there is no need to talk about any professional composure and self-control of these subjects. Most often, everything is exactly the opposite - their behavior contains a large number of external signs of what they plan. And if people who can see and recognize these signs are on their way, this will make it possible to neutralize the threat even before moving to the active stage, and these are dozens, and maybe hundreds of saved lives on this day will be saved.

- Use of effective non-lethal weapons in neutralizing terrorists. As previously mentioned, Street Terror actions take precedence in public places with a large crowd of people, which creates two mutually exclusive tasks, the first: quickly neutralize the terrorist, the second: eliminate collateral damage, or minimize it. To neutralize a terrorist, you need to use weapons, however, the use of firearms with a standard type of ammunition with a large accumulation of people on the line of fire creates a high probability of accidental damage. Only one way out of this situation, the use of non-lethal weapons (weapons of limited destruction), a member of the police patrol unit should possess such weapons at a high professional level, know its capabilities and have good practical skills in its use.

- Actions of patrol units in case of threat of terrorist acts with bacteriological weapons. You can read more about this direction in this article.

Once again, I emphasize that these disciplines should be supplemented by the curriculum, and additionally included in the retraining and advanced training program for active police patrol officers.

4. Equipping additional weapons and special equipment
To carry out the tasks of quickly neutralizing terrorists, in a public place with a large number of people, a police officer cannot use official firearms with standard ammunition, this poses a risk of causing death and injury to accidental victims. The use of special means from standard police equipment is not always possible and effective, for example, for the use of pepper gas or stun gun, the police need to approach the terrorist for a very short distance, which in most cases is not possible. The only way out in this situation could be to equip patrol officers with additional non-lethal weapons. In my opinion, the best option for such situations is a weapon of limited damage (traumatic), it is a compact pistol of standard size and weight, designed to fire ammunition with a rubber bullet. Such a weapon with an energy of up to 91 joules, provides effective targeting fire at a target from a distance of 10-12 meters, has an excellent stopping effect due to moderate pain shock, but its main use does not pose a direct threat to human life when accidentally hit, and therefore minimizes the risk of collateral damage to an acceptable level. Similarly, although it is possible to use light-sound (stun) ammunition with less efficiency, it is worth noting that the effectiveness of their use is very controversial according to experts. Currently, a fairly large number of varieties of weapons of limited destruction and ammunition are presented on the market, so that it is possible to choose for any requirements and situations.

5. Change of approach to organization of public order and security system in streets and other public places with mass presence of people
Given the distinctive features, police patrol units should become the main forces against Street Terror. These units must meet all the requirements of a «rapid response» force. Calculation of forces and means (arrangement) of patrol routes, their adjustment (manoeuvre) in the course of daily tasks must meet the following requirements:
- the location of patrols both mobile and foot must correspond to an operational radius of 4 minutes or less;

* Operational radius is the location of the patrol route of a foot post or car patrol so that it can reach any point on its route in a specified time (in this case, 4 minutes).

- Places with a high level of terrorist threat, including central streets and squares, administrative, business and shopping centres, streets and squares close to large cultural, sports and religious institutions, should be actively patrolled. It is in such places that it is logical to place points of intersection of routes of several patrols, this will increase both the density of patrols and the responsiveness of police forces to incident signals;
- in places with a high level of terrorist threat, place surveillance video surveillance systems. These systems should be installed at high height, for example, at the roof level of buildings, surveillance cameras should have high resolution and remote control. The signal from these complexes and their remote control should be brought to the police duty (situation or monitoring center). This measure will allow, in the event of an action of «Street Terror,» a crime of a non-terrorist nature or other incident, to give more relevant and reliable information to the patrolmen sent there, as well as to remotely direct the forces and means of the police and other emergency services.
- Strengthen security measures in schools and other institutions with mass presence of children. You can read more about the proposals to create an effective model of the security system in educational institutions in this article.

In this article, I tried to reflect the main areas of opposition to such a negative phenomenon of modern life as «Street Terror.» I fully agree that this phenomenon has serious social, religious, political, social and other reasons, that all this needs to be studied and developed a system for preventing this phenomenon, but it will take years, and maybe decades. However, the consequences of this phenomenon already require urgent and effective countermeasures, and I devoted my work to this. I have set out some of my conclusions in this article, but I will continue to work in this direction. When developing the above proposals, he proceeded from personal practical experience, analysis of facts and conclusions of other specialists.
In my work, I form a system for creating a «hostile environment» for a crime of this kind. To do this, I apply the principle of the reverse approach, I evaluate the situation from the hypothetical position of the criminal, model the entire chain of crime and note all possible factors that could prevent me from carrying out the planned criminal act. To this I add an analysis of already committed, real terrorist acts. Based on the findings, I am creating a habitat model that includes the maximum number of negative (hostile) factors for the subject in question. In this case, this entity is a street terrorist.

date of publication - on January 15, 2021
author Roman Grishin
photo taken from the site ABC, Inc.

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