By George Ochieng
I have been giving to various Rotary fellowships since the Nairobi Westgate terror shooting incident on Sept 21. This is my way of fulfilling my vocational calling this October, the Rotary Vocation month.
10 actions to do against a shooting terrorist
1. Know the signs of terrorists: They have a political agenda, a desire for revenge, hatred or paranoia. Terrorists can be identified when making surveillance of facilities, eliciting information or impersonating others to gain access to these facilities. They can be identified when they are acquiring funds or means of terror. Their violent tendencies can be discerned when expressed through depression, explosive outbursts of anger, talk of severe domestic/financial problems, talk of use of violence to solve problems, paranoia (everybody is against me/us) or an association with terror masterminds.
2. Make a risk assessment of places you visit. Avoi! d highly vulnerable places (e.g. those that can easily be penetrated by terrorists) and highly risky areas (e.g. Those specifically threatened by the terrorists) and always establish how easily you can escape (evacuation gates and routes). For the latter, identify the persons who work there whom you could follow to safety. Only go to places that have adequate security measures (e.g. perimeter controls, barriers at gates, and security checks at access control points)
3. When shots go off, lay face down to the floor, and then take cover (to avoid shots targeting you) and/or be in concealment (not to be seen).
4. Assess whether it is safe to evacuate from the scene. If the attacker is a distance away, safely move away from the direction of shots. Follow instructions from law enforcement officials or workers familiar with the facility.
5. If you cannot evacuate, hide in a room. Lock or barricade the room with furniture and stay silent. (e.g. Silence your phone but quietly call for help).
6. If the terrorist takes! you hostage, keep on the floor, keep your hands, fingers visible and away from your bags. Do not try to take their pictures nor look straight at their faces for recognition. Do not attempt to make conversation in the first 10- 20 minutes. They are stressed and do not see human beings at this stage. At this stage, do not make comments on their outbursts however outlandish they are.
7. When your lives are in danger (e.g. the terrorist indiscriminately shoots your colleagues) and yet there is no foreseeable rescue from the law enforcement agencies, then respond. Yell at him, disagree to involve you. Seek commitment from the other hostages, improvise weapons and throw these at him/her to disrupt or incapacitate them.
8. When law enforcement arrives to rescue you (they always will come for the bad guys), be calm and be down, follow their instructions, put down any items in your hands (i.e. bags, jackets), raise your hands and spread fingers keeping them visible at all times. Avoid making any sudden movements e.g. movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety. Note that they may use forceful measures.
9. Once you are freed (through escape, hostage negotiations or armed intervention rescue), follow the directions of the law enforcement officials, ! and answer their queries on the strength, description and demographics (number, sex, age etc.) of the terrorists, the remaining hostages and the hostage hold area. This helps them plan the safe rescue of others.
10. As a free person, review the threat assessment and the security measures in your areas of findings, the efficacy of the emergency measures and your readiness for all eventualities and consequences. What lessons did you learn, what could you have done better and what resources and procedures should be included in your personal and group security?
Rotarian George Ochieng
Former Head of Counter Terrorism, Uganda