Saturday, September 21, 2013
Security lessons from the Kenya terrorist attacks
I'm sure that by now, most readers have heard of the terrorist attack this morning on a suburban shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab. It had long threatened such an attack in retaliation for Kenya's role in suppressing its domination of neighboring Somalia.
There are some extremely graphic photographs of the scene at Buzzfeed. I recommend looking at them, not out of prurient curiosity, but so as to improve your own tactical awareness. Notice how the shopping mall was a virtual duplicate of many that one finds in cities and towns all across the USA. That attack could have happened right here . . . and the odds are pretty good that one day, it will.
I've written before about the Beslan attacks in Russia, and the likelihood that terrorists will strike at 'soft' surburban targets such as schools and shopping malls, where they know they're likely to find plenty of defenseless victims, rather than targeting places where the occupants are armed and may shoot back. They did so at Mumbai, India in 2008. The Al-Shabab movement clearly learned its lessons well from that operation. I'll bet my income for the rest of my life against the change in your pocket that other terrorists, individually and collectively, are right now trying to plan a similar attack against the USA.
Go look at those photographs, gruesome though you may find them. Look at the interior of that shopping center. Ask yourself how often you go to places like that. Are you armed when you do so? If not, why not - and if the mall won't allow armed persons inside, why go there at all? Why allow them to dictate that you have to be incapable of defending yourself and/or your loved ones? I've written many articles about self-defense and firearms (see the list in the sidebar headed 'Articles on firearms and self-defense'). Read them, learn more from other sites, and implement those lessons now, before it's too late.
As for the shopping centers you frequent: do you know the location of their exits - including the goods entrances, not normally used by the public, and the emergency exits? Can you find your way to them amidst the panic and confusion of an ongoing attack, with gunshots and explosions sounding, people screaming and running in every direction, and chaos disrupting everything? What if the lights go out? Are there sources of natural light, or is the complex completely closed off from the outside world, without so much as a window or skylight? What if the building catches fire? Can you make your way through choking smoke and possible flames to safety? If not, learn how - now! What about the parking areas outside? Can cars get away from the complex quickly and easily, or are access routes limited and easily blocked by terrorists or clogged by traffic?
Think about those things . . . and decide now, before a crisis arises, whether you want to put yourself into a situation that might 'go bad' on you, as it did for the shoppers in the Westgate mall in Nairobi this morning.
It's too late for the dead at Westgate to learn. It's not too late for you.