Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Although it went virtually unmentioned in the US national media, ISIS perpetrated a vicious massacre against members of a different Islamic sect in Pakistan last week. The terrorists targeted a bus full of Shiite Muslims on their way to a community center. Six terrorists used motorcycles to ride along side the bus and shoot the passengers. They then boarded the bus and systematically shot all of the passengers in the head. At last count 43 people were killed and an additional 13 were wounded. For more details of the attack, read THIS ARTICLE.
Why is this important to my readers? Two reasons: One is that some of my readers use public transportation in foreign countries and need to be prepared for such an attack. The second is that Islamist terrorists worldwide use the battleground in the middle east to refine terrorism tactics, techniques, and procedures so that they are more successful when utilized in other locations (like here in the USA). Unless our society takes measures to prevent it, what we are currently seeing in Pakistan will someday be used against our own citizens here in the USA. It’s prudent to be prepared.
Take a minute to think it through. What would you do if you were a passenger in a bus that came under attack from a band of gun-toting motorcycle riders? It’s likely that the six attackers were doubled up on three bikes so that the driver could maneuver, allowing the passenger to fire. How would those three bikes most effectively stop the bus and perpetrate their attack? How would you respond? Here are some things to think about…
1) Don’t stop moving. In an attack like this, the moving bus is the best weapon available. If you are a passenger, don’t let the driver stop. Even if you need to threaten the driver with force, make sure he keeps the bus up to speed. Ideally, he should be trying to strike the motorcycle riders as he makes his escape.
The terrorists may intentionally target the driver with the first bursts of gunfire, forcing him to crash and stop. Are you prepared to drag the driver’s body out of the seat and drive the bus yourself? If you are sitting close enough to the driver, that may be the most successful intervention you can pull off. Waiting until all six guys are on the bus and firing doesn’t leave you with many viable options.
2) Choose your seats wisely. In addition to being seated near the driver as mentioned above, sitting close to one of the exits is beneficial. It’s likely that these terrorists didn’t execute the attack perfectly. There may have been a brief escape opportunity during an early part of the attack. If you aren’t sitting near an exit, you won’t be able to get off quickly.
Aisle seats are important on public transportation. If you plan on escaping or fighting, you’ll need quick access to the aisle. Climbing over two other sleeping passengers to make your escape is less than optimal.
Don’t forget that some of the widows serve as emergency exits. Don’t be afraid to break one with the little hammer mounted nearby and make your escape if things look nasty.
3) Block the aisles. In a bus, attackers can be easily thwarted by physically blocking the aisles. It’s tough for the terrorists’ teammates to get around you to join the fight or to victimize other passengers if you are fighting the lead attacker in the aisle. In multiple attacker situations, it’s generally a good plan to “stack” (line up) your attackers so that you only have to fight one at a time. There’s no place easier to do that than a bus aisle. Don’t stay in your seat. If you are going to fight, get to the aisle and make the terrorists fight there. Even if you get killed, blocking the rest of the terrorists from penetrating deeper into the bus may facilitate some other passengers’ escapes.
4) You may have to play dead. Although I generally don’t think that playing dead is usually a very successful tactic in the event of an active shooter event, it has worked in some past incidents. If I couldn’t get out of the seat or I was too late and multiple shooters were already in the aisle spraying rounds with an AK-47, I might hit the ground and play dead until I get a better opportunity to act. Draw whatever weapon you have available and wait for one of the terrorists to walk past your seat. Attack him as soon as he passes by shooting him in the back of the head or bring him down by stabbing him in the leg. Get control of his weapon and go to work on his buddies.
This may not have a high likelihood of success, but it seems like a better option than wildly charging several rifle-armed gunmen if you are unarmed.
One final thing to note: At least one of the terrorists in this attack was wearing a police uniform. This is becoming a go-to strategy for Islamic terrorists. I’ve written about this tactic extensively in past articles but it bears mentioning again. Don’t make assumptions when you see someone in a uniform. It might be a ruse that is designed to make you hesitate just long enough to get you killed.