In the last few months, there have been a lot of headlines about hostage situations and terrorist attacks.
Not to long ago, a man claiming to be a member of the Islamic State held employees and patrons hostage in a cafe in Sydney, Australia for 17 hours, refusing to let them go until his demands were met. A few of the hostages managed to escape, and police eventually intervened to free the others. By the end of the ordeal, the terrorist and two of his captives were killed.
Recently, Taliban terrorists in Pakistan killed 141 people, including 132 children, in an attack on an army-run school before Pakistani special forces mounted a rescue mission, ending the siege and clearing the building of explosives.
Surviving a Terrorist Attack or Hostage Situation
Although these attacks happened on the other side of the world from the United States, we know from experience that similar things can happen here on our own soil.
Terrorist attacks and hostage situations can happen at any time, anywhere. The element of surprise and unpredictable nature of these attacks make them one of the hardest situations to prepare for.
However, there are always steps you can take to increase your chances of survival. Here are a few of our tips for surviving a hostage situation or terrorist attack.
1. Take cover and hide.
Duck and cover, and keep moving until you reach your cover. By proper cover, we don’t mean “hide under your desk”; that won’t help much. A good shelter, maybe the ideal spot, is behind a support beam or a concrete pillar, they will protect you from random bullets or even stop debris from hitting you in the eventuality of an explosion. Read more.
2. Try to build a rapport with your captor.
If your abductor is suffering from a form of paranoid psychosis, it’s best that you appear non-threatening, but also avoid doing anything that could be construed as manipulation (such as attempting to befriend them), as individuals experiencing paranoid delusions will likely assume you are yet another person conspiring against them. If they feel they are losing control, they may react with a violent outburst. Do not attempt to convince them that their delusions are unfounded, as they may become enraged, and either way it is unlikely they will believe you (from their perspective, their delusions make perfect sense and seem like reality). Read more.
3. Don’t speak unless spoken to.
The hostage is only a tool to get what he wants from the authorities. You should treat the hostage-taker like royalty. Avoid being aggressive, and discard items he would consider a threat. If you speak to the police on the phone with permission, only give yes or no answers. If you are ever in a terrorist situation and have the ‘wrong’ passport to them, keep that hidden and don’t speak about your religion. Read more.
4. Escape if you can, and teach your loved ones to do the same.
Sanford Strong, SWAT team instructor and author of “Strong on Defense” maintains that any victim fleeing is a powerful deterrent to the crime scene getting worse. If he reacts by killing any of his hostages, then he probably had been inclined all along to kill them. Running away is not abandoning the other victims. It’s perhaps the best of the survival options to save them. Even a husband leaving his wife in dire straits, or a parent leaving a child – gut wrenching and unnatural as that may feel – is probably the most viable survival option in a horrific situation. Discuss this unpleasant survival subject with your loved ones now to be prepared – just in case. Teach children that their job is to run outside for help. Read more.
5. Keep your cool when rescue teams arrive.
When the troops arrive at your doorstep, know that they may not be initially able to tell you from a terrorist. Stay low, protect your head, get behind a bed or in a bath tub, and make sure the troops can see your hands and thereby know that you do not pose a threat to them. Hostages have been shot when tactical teams entered a room or a plane to save them and one or more of the hostages abruptly stood up. Stay down until you are instructed to do otherwise and even then anticipate that you will be treated as a possible terrorist until the troops are able to confirm otherwise. Read more.
6. Communicate with fellow captives.
One method is to try to pass notes by leaving them in areas that you all may enter separately with minimum supervision such as a pre-interrogation holding cell or medical area. The advantage of passing notes is that you don’t have to be in the same area at the same time. The disadvantage is that the other people won’t probably know to look unless they’ve had special training – or you worked it out in advance. Not to mention the fact that your notes could be found, or even used against you. Just because you find a note doesn’t mean a friendly wrote it. Having some kind of bona fides to verify the sender is one solution if you don’t recognize the handwriting. Bona Fides is Latin for “good faith” and it’s just some kind of proof that you are who you say you are. Read more.
7. Use available items as weapons.
You should try to avoid a fight if possible, but sometimes it’s the only option. In this situation you can use items you have on-hand as improvised weapons. Stab a pen into the terrorist’s eye, hand, throat, anywhere. Stick him and stick him until he is the victim. Keys can be stabbed through a terrorist’s ear into his ear drum, gouge out his eyes, or even cut his throat. A leather belt wrapped around your arm can stop knife cuts or the belt can be swung as a flail. Smash the buckle into a terrorist’s face. Belts can quickly strangle terrorists and can also tie them up when they are disarmed and unconscious. Read more.
8. Be prepared to take the lead.
If you are a manager or uniformed official, employees and customers are likely to follow your lead. So, it’s essential that you remain calm and take immediate action. The key is to be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.Read more.