A curious thing happened in Moscow recently – false alarms were called in for emergencies ranging from hostage situations to shootings in very vulnerable public places. Reported as an elaborate prank by the BBC, it does not look like a prank to me. This was a test of the strength or weakness of the Russian capital’s emergency response system and the preparedness of her teams. Like an astounding magic trick, this episode used misdirection – the key to making a trick work. But, why did this happen?
Though not trying to reduce our reader’s gleeful moment of Schadenfreude over this event, we should nevertheless set aside for a moment Russia’s recent political assassinations, foreign vote rigging, or even bombing of civilian populations in the Middle East (like its Western counterpart). Instead, let us focus on what just happened: the capital city of Russia was brought into chaos with a city-wide terror attack of another kind.
Any capital city’s most critical infrastructure is arguably its emergency response system. Last week Moscow’s was confounded and crippled by innumerable false reports of violent attacks and dangerous crises. While no one was harmed, what if an actual attack took place while all of these first responders were engaged and confused some place other than where an actual attack took place?
What we know from experience is that the first habit of terrorism is to issue demands and a warning. The second habit is to strike fear in your enemy with a poignant attack on a soft target. The third habit is to employ any means required to cause as much memorable damage as possible. The fourth habit is to follow fear with chaos so the enemy cannot respond or pursue, such as in Pakistan and Afghanistan where one explosion is followed by one or two others near enough to be heard, but far enough to prevent an adequate response. The fifth habit is to re-issue demands and a warning. Repeat.
In the case of the wave of Moscow’s false reports, there was no warning or demands. There was fear and chaos, but no casualties. This time…
Is it possible for perpetrators of non-conventional threats to launch a similar wave of false reports to seed confusion and chaos in the minds of emergency services and, while they are at their point of being most bemused, >BANG!< the real attack happens?
Perhaps as much as half of the first responders already deployed would think it is another hoax; others might feel mentally fatigued from the adrenaline rush and the hype of responding to previous false reports that they will be unable to respond appropriately to a real one. All of this is (not) happening while the effects of the real attack rage on, causing more casualties and damage. What a scene?! What calculated genius?!
So, how do we prevent this from happening? I do not know, but I would like to have you, our readers, offer some suggestions as to what happened, what could happen and what is the best possible response.
In the meantime, this issue has much to share: information on explosive non-conventional threats (NCTs), the NCT USA event, a few insightful interviews, a review of a new cracking book “Toxic” and the opportunity to pick up on any NCT news you might have missed.
As always, we welcome your comments and contributions to future issues. Please contact us and let us know what is on your mind or how you would like to get involved.
Curtis Hand | Chief Editorial Advisor