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Are our Schools at risk for Terror Attack?

Al Qaeda wrote the book on school and school bus takeovers. In one of Al Qaeda manuals recently published on line and translated by the Northeast Intelligence Network, Al Qaeda has provided a step-by-step guide on how to conduct one of these brutal operations.

By Randy Taylor, Independent Analyst

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was published on this website on October 10, 2004 by counter-terrorism analyst Randy Taylor. The Northeast Intelligence Network has consistently been at the forefront of warnings about terrorists targeting our schools and school buses. The major media has only begun to cover this issue.

18 March 2007: Are our Schools at risk for Terror Attack? Absolutely and without question is the answer to the question, but likewise at risk is any other public property where US citizens may frequent or may be found. The horrifying thought is small defenseless children being injured or murdered if this were to happen here in the US.

We need to examine what exactly can be done to prevent this from occurring and what exactly is the proper response to such a situation would be the far more prevailing question. I have a few concerns of my own, having read the accounts of what occurred in Beslan, Russia. My primary concern is that initially it will be responded to by local law enforcement and within hours, the FBI of course would be involved as well as certain other federal law enforcement agencies. Therein lie the flaws in completing a successful rescue operation and these flaws not due to any agencies potential incompetence or mishandling once notified, but attributed more to a lack of targeted training in dealing with this that can be initiated quickly at the local level. Response and assault has to occur in minutes, not hours.

The critical time frame that begins when local law enforcement responds, seals off the area, sets up a perimeter and begins to assess the situation while waiting for federal assistance is already placing a rescue operation deep into a danger zone that may not be able to be corrected.

This type of assault would not, by any stretch of the imagination fall into a typical hostage standoff situation that is covered in any typical, local level law enforcement text book or manual. This isn’t a situation where a husband has had too much to drink and has assaulted the wife and the police are responding to what was initially a domestic disturbance call and now has developed into a hostage situation. This is instead a carefully planned, blue printed, tried and true taking of hostages by people that have no intention of escaping and are willing to die for the cause and for the publicity that this situation can bring to their cause.

Al Qaeda wrote the book on school and school bus takeovers

In one of Al Qaeda manuals recently published on line and translated by the Northeast Intelligence Network, Al Qaeda has provided a step-by-step guide on how to conduct one of these brutal operations. I daresay that local law enforcement probably doesn’t have a guide in place yet to counter those specific operational methods. I don’t know who would be responsible to send out counter-operational guidelines to local law enforcement, in light of the existence of this Al Qaeda guide to taking over schools, but hopefully they are working on it.

A few things derived from observation of Beslan and from transcripts read from the issue written by Al Qaeda types.

After the initial takeover of the facility, the first thing these people will do is split up into teams and start segregating the hostages into smaller, more controllable groups. Any resistance or delay on the hostages account will result in death. Once they have corralled the hostages into rooms or areas, they will immediately start setting explosives into place in different areas that provide entrance or exit paths to and from a particular area containing hostages. This is to prevent escape and also to prevent entrance by any rescue team.

The point I am trying to make here, is that once that takeover of the facility happens, there isn’t much time before the facility cannot be entered successfully by the rescue team or assault force. The take down of the terrorists must be quick, swift and decisive and must happen very quickly before they cross a certain point in time. The time frame that usually follows a typical hostage situation is not permissible in this particular Al Qaeda designed situation. In this situation, we are not waiting for the husband to sober up, waiting for the police hostage negotiator to work out a pizza deal, waiting for the police psychologist to arrive and talk about an unfavorable childhood that somehow led to these events. This has to be dealt with in as little as an hour, as opposed to several hours or days. It should be over before the news crews even arrive.

Once this critical point in time has been crossed, there will be the regrettable assurance that there will be significant casualties no matter what the choice of assault or rescue is. One suggestion may be that there is several SEAL type teams that are specifically trained for this and are responsible for various sectors here in this country. These teams could respond to any hostage situation regardless of whether it is a school, church, shopping mall, theatre (Moscow 10/25/02) and regardless of the perpetrators. An additional suggestion is that local law enforcement personnel, including SWAT teams must be advised and trained in this particular type of assault as it fall outside of normal guidelines.

An additional prevention measure as covered by the recent security warning sent out by the government is that parents, teachers, school resource officers, security and the children themselves are constantly on the lookout for suspicious individuals, suspicious vehicles on or close to the school property or of anyone taking pictures or just sitting and observing the surroundings. The school personnel should know the name and recognize every driver that makes deliveries to the school and know what their vehicles look like, so if a stranger shows up, you are aware of it. Rerun background checks on the school employees and teachers. Carefully scrutinize the bus drivers that show up in the afternoon to pick up the children to make sure it is the regular driver.

Whether or not this will happen, no one knows. But let’s do our best to keep it from happening by becoming a difficult target through improved security and observation. And if it does happen, I would like to see that our law enforcement personnel were given the proper resources and assistance to initiate action quickly and bring it to a positive conclusion where the bad guys die instead of the hostages as was the case in Beslan, Russia.

Be safe and stay vigilant. - 10.10.04

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