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Lesson 2-8 Attack Recognition

If terrorists succeed in surveilling you and plan an attack, the next place to foil their efforts is to recognize their intentions and prepare to escape. Recognizing an attack scenario is difficult. Often what may appear to be an attack is more likely to be innocent circumstances. However, alertness and willingness to act are the keys to surviving a genuine attack scenario.

Abnormal Situations

  • Individuals who appear to be excessively nervous and seem out of place by dress or mannerisms.
  • Individuals wearing unusually long or heavy clothing for the environment.
  • Individuals who appear to be acting as lookouts along your route of travel.
  • Vehicles that hit your car from the front or rear.
  • Unusual detours, vehicle roadblocks, cones, or other barriers. Be prepared to escape by going around the obstacle or ramming it.
  • Vehicles traveling with items protruding from side doors or vans traveling with side doors open.
  • Disabled vehicles, hitchhikers or distressed “accident victims” seeking your assistance are commonly employed traps.
  • A flagman, workman or fake police or government checkpoint stopping your car at a suspicious place.
  • Sudden unusual activity or the unexplained absence of local civilians.
  • Gunfire.

Escape, Evade or Confront

Once you recognize an attack is occurring, decisions must be made immediately. If the scenario is an armed attack or assassination attempt, get out of the kill zone. Typically terrorists have a relatively narrow window of time and may have restricted fields of fire due to obstacles in their path. Once you exit the kill zone, terrorists will rarely pursue you since they must begin their own escape and evasion plan. In emergency situations, it may be a matter of survival to employ evasive driving techniques in order to arrive at the nearest safehaven. Use of evasive driving techniques may also be to you advantage by attracting the attention of local law enforcement. If on foot, take advantage of the density of crowds and layouts of buildings to evade pursuers. When you feel you have evaded the terrorists and are out of immediate danger, contact security forces or law enforcement for assistance.

In some cases, you may become captive as were the passengers on board the ill-fated flights of 11 September 2001. Escape and evasion were not possible. The only chance for those passengers to survive was to confront the terrorists in order to regain control of the aircraft. On one aircraft, although the plane crashed killing all on board, the passengers’ confrontation with the terrorists saved countless lives because the aircraft never reached its intended target.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015