Responding to the Marauding Firearms Terrorist: armed guards, canines and behavioural detection

by Philip Baum

These are taxing times. In the two months since our last issue, there has been an attempted coup in Turkey, Trump has secured the Republican nomination to fight to be President of the USA and Europe has had to cope with not only the uncertainty caused by the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the EU but also a surge in the number of atrocities perpetrated by terrorists and those with psychological disorders.

Not all the assailants have been Islamic fundamentalists. Thomas Mair, arrested for the murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox on 16th June, was found to have links to an American neo-Nazi group known as the National Alliance. Micah Xavier Johnson, linked to black nationalist groups and a former member of the New Black Panther Party, killed five police officers in Dallas in the midst of the Black Lives Matter marches on 7th July. In Nigeria, more than 80 people were killed in Benue State by herdsmen involved in a land conflict.

On 26th July, Satoshi Uematsu killed 19 people in a residential care home in Japan. The attack – the worst in post-World War II Japanese history – was justified by Uematsu, who had been campaigning for many months for the lives of severely disabled people to be legally terminated. The former employee of the home where the massacre took place had written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in February saying, “I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanised, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities.”

On 22nd July, the fifth anniversary of Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre in Norway, a German/Iranian by the name of Ali David Sonboly used Facebook to entice total strangers to a McDonalds outlet in a Munich shopping centre and then started executing them before committing suicide himself.

As July drew to a close you could be excused for missing the news that paramilitary groups around the world still resort to more old school tactics to instil a climate of fear or to secure funding. The Paraguayan People’s Army, a left wing guerrilla group, kidnapped a farmer and demanded a $700,000 ransom – their justification was “the violation of revolutionary laws prohibiting deforestation.” And in Angola, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda killed nine soldiers as part of their struggle for independence.

But in the western world, there is little doubt that Islamic State supporters, both actual and would-be, are growing in confidence and perpetrating acts that not only result in the deaths of innocent individuals going about their daily lives – watching fireworks displays on Bastille Day, leading mass in a provincial church or travelling as passengers on a train – but also engender suspicion, at best, and hatred, at worst, of all those who claim to be or dress like followers of Islam.

And aviation continues to be targeted…

Four months ago, Brussels Zaventem Airport was targeted by suicidal terrorists. They arrived by taxi and entered the terminal building unchallenged, pushing their explosive devices into the check-in hall on trolleys. They recognised that aviation could be targeted without the need to have bags X-rayed or pass through archway metal detectors. Small surprise then that many argued that checkpoints should be established outside the entrance to the terminal building. After all, that’s what they do in Istanbul!

And, despite our pleas not to create new queues and, thereby new targets, checkpoints were set up outside Brussels airport, with people standing in lengthy lines waiting to be screened for the presence of prohibited items. And for as long as we continue to search for prohibited items, rather than negative intent, our defences will be breached time and time again.