Countering the threat from Lone Actors
There has been a steady growth in so called ‘Lone Actor’ attacks by individuals inspired by but not directed or controlled by extremist groups like Islamic State. Influenced by other radicals within their immediate community and on-line propaganda, they employ everyday items such as vehicles and knives to carry out so called simple attacks requiring little if any preparation or planning.
They are much harder for the police and security services to counter. The lack of pre-event activity and little if any association with known extremist networks makes early identification and disruption of their plans difficult if not impossible for the authorities.
Lone Actors therefore present a particular challenge and the emphasis is therefore on all of us to use our eyes and ears to identify suspicious behaviour at the tactical level, particularly when in crowded and public spaces, and to identify these individuals during their target reconnaissance or when they are preparing for the attack itself.
In any arena where there is a potential terrorist threat there are said to be three types of actor. Firstly, the ‘shepherds’, who respond to any threat in a positive way perhaps security personnel, police or trained members of the public. Secondly there are the so-called ‘sheep’, the wider general public who are not trained and have little awareness of the threat or real understanding of how best to respond. Thirdly the attackers the so-called ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ who will try to conceal their intentions mingling in with the crowd until the attack itself unfolds. So, what can we all do?
Firstly, we should all remain alert to the threat, particularly when in crowed spaces, we must take note of and report any suspicious activity, identifying the wolf in sheep’s clothing and alerting the authorities. Secondly, we must recognise the importance of identifying and responding quickly to any imminent attack; moving quickly away from the threat and without hesitation, warning others if we can and identifying safe havens. We should shepherd others, particularly the vulnerable such as the old and the young, then report what we have observed to the authorities.
Enhanced observation and the skills and drills required to make us more effective in these situations can be easily learnt and the more of us who are able to take on the role of shepherd rather than simply be sheep the harder it is for the wolves to operate effectively. To find out more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Curran MA FCIPD MSyl