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More Thoughts Following Paris Incidents

20 November 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

At the start of the week, ThisWeekinFM asked for comment on the events of Friday 13 in Paris (and Beirut the previous day). Read here what others have to say and join the debate if you wish - you can use the social media links below or email us at


Don't Lie Down - UK Terror Advice Is Published

The Government has published advice on what people should do in the event of a firearms or weapons attack in a public place.

According to the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, victims of a Paris-style shooting should attempt to run away from the scene first, as long as doing so would not expose them to greater danger.

They should also insist others leave with them and don't dally to collect them personal items.

If running isn't a possibility, the next option should be to hide from attackers and find cover from gunfire – instead of lying down in full view.

However, the NaCTSO guidance warns bullets can go through brick, glass, wood and metal, meaning it is safest to hide behind heavily reinforced walls.

Victims are also told to be quiet, silence their phone, be aware of their exits and, if they are in an enclosed space, lock or barricade the door before moving away from it.

Taken from a Sky News feed 19.11.15 via LinkedIn. The refreshed guidelines were first published over a year ago.

NaCTSO has also called on businesses to train their staff for such a scenario – and develop a dynamic lockdown plan for frustrating, delaying or preventing attackers.

The police unit suggests improving communication between workers, using CCTV more efficiently and performing regular terror drills could greatly reduce the number of potential casualties in the event of an attack.


Brian Shillibeer

I read this article on and of course noted the attacks in Mali today and it made me think - please see my own LinkedIn post below in bold. The article is in italics.

The grisly attacks in France and Lebanon last week have fixed attention on the violence perpetrated by ISIS. But a study published this week indicates that the world’s deadliest terrorist organization actually operates thousands of miles south of Paris and Beirut, in Nigeria.

The 2015 Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, found that Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadist group, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared with 6,073 at the hands of ISIS. Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002 as an Islamist movement against Western education and morphed into an armed insurgency in 2009, has rapidly expanded its scope and ambitions over the past two years, achieving international notoriety in the spring of 2014 by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls. Much like ISIS, the organization controls territory in Nigeria (although it has lost some of it over the past year) and has declared a caliphate in that territory. The group is also international; although based in northeastern Nigeria, it has launched attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. In the latest incident, Boko Haram is the suspected author of an attack in the Nigerian city of Yola that has left more than 30 people dead.

There is also Al Shabaab ... recent killers of Christian students in Kenya (April) ... an affiliate of al Qaeda. It came into being as a rebel force in Somalia. A Jewish teacher was attacked in South France in the last two days by young men chanting support for Isis. I could find many more examples to prove my point that attempting to cut one of Medusa's heads off in Syria will not destroy the snakes...the tentacles of evil that slither around the world in places far away - and next to where we live.

In my opinion, although they are connected (and we must understand that interconnectivity and its impact on radicalisation better), intervening in wars abroad does not replace vigilance and effort in homeland security.


Peter Webster

The terrible attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November are the latest in a series of deadly incidents that sadly illustrate the severe threat that well-prepared and ruthless terrorists present to our safety.

This latest incident is the largest loss of life through terrorist activity in Europe since the '11-M' train bombings in Madrid in 2004, in which 191 people were killed and 1,800 wounded.

In a worrying development, the Paris attacks build on so-called lone-wolf attacks such as the shooting of four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels on in 2014; the murder of soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby in London in 2013 by radical Islamists; or the killing of 77 people by the right-wing terrorist, Anders Brevik, in Norway in 2011.  Where these incidents involved one or two terrorists acting alone, the Paris attacks involved coordinated teams of terrorists and involved multiple targets.

The bravery and unity shown by the French people in the face of these attacks is remarkable - especially since these attacks follow the assault on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this year and lone-wolf incidents including the taking of hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

It is safe to assume that these latest attacks will have a significant impact on geopolitical issues such as migration into Europe, the war in Syria and the funding of terrorist networks, to name but a few. But they also raise the question whether such an attack could happen on the streets of cities in the UK.

The British Prime Minister certainly thinks so and at a press conference at the G20 meeting this week, David Cameron urged people in the UK to be vigilant, as a terror attack just like that seen in Paris could very well happen in London.

As individuals we must therefore remain vigilant. We are urged to report any suspicious or unusual behaviour to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

Yet businesses and other organisations also have a crucial role to play and, to this end, we have issued the following tips to our clients, as they represent best practice on maintaining security in what are increasingly challenging times:

Maintain a good flow of intelligence and information, including close liaison with local Police and Counter-Terrorism advisors.

Have the right calibre of trained people in place, including well-trained security teams, and run Security Awareness programmes for all staff and personnel.

Select appropriate technical solutions, especially to enable robust access control measures.

Implement effective operational procedures.

Ensure that control and supervision protocols are in place.

Carry out regular tests (including Penetration Tests) and drills of all security and safety systems.

Implement both internal and external security audits.

Ensure that Contingency and Emergency plans are in place and are easily accessible for all relevant personnel.

Always ensure that security teams are alert to suspicious behaviour and activity in or around your subject premises or environment.

Peter Webster, Chief Executive of Corps Security


David Ward

Following the tragic events in Paris, it is understandable that many people and organisations will be concerned that such an attack might be replicated here in the UK.

This is a time when the security services and private security industry must be particularly vigilant and must work in collaboration to ensure the highest level of awareness and preparedness.

 I serve as Chair of the Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) initiative Southern Region – a partnership between law enforcement agencies, local and national government organisations, and private sector businesses. Within this role I have a particularly close insight into how effective this process of collaboration is in ensuring a robust and effective security stance. In the wake of the attacks in Paris you can rest assured that all UK security agencies – both public and private – are working even closer together.

Our security officers at all sites will be delivering their duties with the expected levels of professionalism but are being extra vigilant and will not hesitate to share with police any information they see fit. Also, if we feel there is any information that needs to be shared with our clients, we will do so without hesitation.

 Crucially, we would like to reassure you that our officers are there to help and to act on any information or suspicions you may have. So please do not hesitate in sharing with them any information you may have.

As we reflect on event in Paris with sadness, it is vital that we do what we can to ensure day-to-day life continues normally. Perhaps this is best summed up by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for counter terrorism who said 'the term I would use is 'to be alert, not alarmed'.

David Ward, CEO of Ward Holdings


Jeff Little

First to respond to our call for comment was security expert and government adviser Brigadier (retired) Jeff Little. He writes: The events of the evening of Friday 13th November will long be remembered as a scar on the soul of Europe and ones which maybe be game-changers in the West’s attitude towards counter-terrorism and security policies.

That they occurred whilst the country was already on the highest state of alert illustrates the difficulty of protecting a modern, open, democratic city against a determined, fanatical enemy prepared to die for their cause.

The defeat of such cells must be intelligence led and sourced from either human intelligence or electronic monitoring and they must be interdicted before they can launch their plans.

But the carnage in the French capital could have been far worse had the three suicide bombers who detonated at the Stade de France been successful in penetrating the ground’s security measures. These three attackers were defeated by a simple pat-down body search which revealed one of the attackers’ explosive vest, causing him or her to back away and detonate with thankfully (relative to what might have happened) small loss of life.  Had the three succeeded in entering the tightly crowded terraces of the stadium and exploded their devices amongst the spectators, then the death toll would have been huge.  Simple security measures save lives.


Marauding Terrorist Armed Attack

The marauding terrorist armed attack (MTAA) had been feared by security chiefs ever since its first manifestation in Mumbai some seven years ago.  On that occasion, the 12 attacks started on 29 November 2008, killed 164 people and went on for over three days as local security forces were not trained or equipped to manage such an assault and the terrorists roamed freely shooting at will for many hours.

Fortunately French police were on high alert and ready for this moment following the earlier incidents of 7th and 9th of January this year.

The Bataclan Concert Hall hostage situation was resolved quickly, the police having no time to plan a deliberate assault had to launch an immediate response as hostages were being systematically executed.

MTAAs present a worst case scenario for emergency responders with mass casualties at multiple locations stretching resources, command and control but always with the need to retain a reserve should other incidents occur and maintain a viable first response to conventional incidents. 



Friday 13th raises a number of challenges. The first is the question of the continued viability of the EU’s open borders policy on the European mainland. The lack of border checks makes the movement of personnel, weapons and explosives relatively simple – and there are many such weapons and ammunition supplies freely available after recent conflicts in Libya and the Balkans.

The French President’s first action was to secure his borders and there is a clear lesson to be considered.  The current mass influx of refugees from war torn states heightens this issue. Whilst the majority are good and honest people, like any society, there will be evil elements amongst them. They must be identified, tracked if necessary and their movements logged if control is to be maintained.     

Secondly, if it turns out that the assault team were radicalised returners from the Syrian civil war, then how many other such sleeper cells are even now awaiting the call to arms in France and other European nations?

Judging from eye witness reports, Friday’s attackers were calm, focussed, skilled with their weapons and ruthless in their cold-blooded killing even of those in wheelchairs.  They have seen previous combat operations.  There is no room to negotiate with such people – they have to be rapidly and effectively engaged and neutralised. There must be no comebacks on our police armed responders who engage these fanatics – there is no time to consider rules of engagement and the issue of formal warnings.


Revenge attacks

Daesh is now coming under increasing pressure in Syria and its leadership is steadily being successfully decapitated by precision coalition drone and air strikes.  The possibility of the organisation lashing out in revenge has now to be taken seriously in all western capital cities.

Thirdly, we should expect the next attack to take a different format from the last.  Security forces are very good at closing the door after the horse has bolted and the enemy is now not stupid – they are battle hardened, coordinated and skilled in the use of communications to shape and prepare their operations – a more sophisticated terrorist threat then ever seen before.  Their aim is to cause terror and fear amongst the populace and further events should be expected.  They have now demonstrated that they can coordinate the use of long barrelled weapons, suicide bombers and grenades.  How long before the first IED or car bomb appears in Europe?


UK readiness?

Lastly, these attacks come at a time when UK resilience is being reduced. Military forces are being cut and the police service is undergoing extraordinary reductions in numbers. These decisions now need to be urgently revisited in the light of the new threat.  Police morale is low at a time when we expect more and more of our officers under the threat of a Lee Rigby style attack by a lone wolf fanatic.  They need support not reductions.

Daesh will not simply disappear overnight. If the organisation is driven further underground then they may become even more dangerous than now.  If they were responsible for the downing of flight KGL9268 over Egypt and the twin suicide bombing in Beirut last Thursday and for the Paris attrocity, then they may have changed their focus from the ‘near enemy’ in the Mesopotamian Basin to the ‘far enemy’ well beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

For daily updates on security and resilience matters, follow Jeff on Twitter

Article written by Jeff Little, OBE | Published 20 November 2015


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