Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Managing Terrorists

Islamic suicide bombers are among us - here are my suggestions on how to manage them.

There are 1.6 million muslims in the UK, and MI5 says:

“Intelligence indicates that the number of British Muslims actively engaged in terrorist activity, whether at home or abroad or supporting such activity, is extremely small and estimated at less than 1%.”

Of these 16,000, I'd guess only 25% will actually have the profiles of suicide bombers. That still leaves 4,000 - an enormous number compared with the 300 or so of the IRA. Unless we start mass deportations, our security forces can eliminate maybe 40 a year, so that's a 100 year supply!

I'd discount car bombs for now - they use large amounts of explosive and all potential targets in London have barriers to stop them.

So the threat is young men or women, of Pakistani or middle eastern appearance, carrying bombs in backpacks or briefcases. Women may carry them under enveloping robes, like the Palestinian hospital-bomber. To maximize causalities they'll target crowds in enclosed spaces.

Your main goal is to deal with disruption after an attack - under any scenario, your chances of encountering this are much higher than being killed.

Carry a cellphone incorporating an FM radio. Ideally built in to the handset. If you always use a headset, you can get one with the radio built in to that.

Enter a number in your cellphone’s memory under the heading ICE - In Case of Emergency. Paramedics or police can use this to contact a relative or friend who is able to identify the you and give them vital personal information.

Wear walking clothes and footwear and carry some weather protection. As last Thursday demonstrated, you'll do a lot of walking.

Carry a pocket-sized street map of the city.

Carry enough cash to pay for a cheap hotel in case you have to overnight & the credit card networks are down. Or have a standing arrangement to overnight with friends in the city.

Appoint a reliable family member as information coordinator. They need to stay close to a landline (cellphone networks shut down during attacks, to prevent Madrid-style triggers), and their phone needs voicemail. A retired parent or grandparent often does this job. Then arrange that evey family member calls in to the coordinator after an attack. Means you need only make 1 call to report status.

Take a First Aid course, such as the one run by the SJAB which takes 18 hour spread over 9 weeks, and leaves you competent to prolong injured people's lives until the professionals arrive. And you can deal with the much more likely events of road accidents, heart attacks and your partner falling off a stepladder.

There's not much you can do to avoid suicide killers. There are plenty of innocent people who fit the profile and the killers will usually detonate without warning. If there is a warning of any kind - say an Islamic chant from a person with the killer profile - immediately get as close to the floor as you can.

All other suggestions welcome.