Terror at the Mall


How safe is your local mall?

Mall security

Where are the exits?

Today’s news is filled with threats of terrorist attacks on local, American, British and Canadian malls. These threats follow on the heels of the release of HBO’s amazing documentary, “Terror at the Mall,” showing one such attack.

If you are involved in security and counter-terrorism, you need to have seen this chilling story. If you are simply a parent, or even a shopper, you may want to take time to see it, too.

Security camera footage

Footage for the film was taken from the over 100 security cameras that continued to run while noontime shoppers visited the upscale WestGate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013. Again and again, the footage shows innocent and unsuspecting families and store personnel suddenly confronted by militants armed with automatic weapons.

These men entered the mall like any other shopper, moving steadily through the corridors and into stores and shooting down anyone who moved.

Over the course of four hours, over 60 people were killed, women, children and police. The floors ran with blood.

You may well ask, “Four hours?”

It was a classic example of a “soft target” attack combined with poor response by police and military. While the terrorists continued to move throughout the mall,, police and military forces, who took over 45 minutes to arrive,  milled around outside. One of their leaders is seen shouting, “Give us time to get organized!”

The gunmen were purportedly from Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab in Somalia. They were quoted as wanting “revenge” for the death of some of their brethren. Ultimately, after 4 days, a potion of the mall and the terrorists were destroyed by fire, purportedly the result of the army’s artillery “remote assault.”

Mandatory training

Viewing this chilling film should be mandatory training for anyone involved in security and counter-terrorism activities. It also reinforces the lessons taught in the “Run-Hide-Fight” active shooter video that was created by the City of Houston, Texas and the Department of Homeland Security. This film was reviewed by us last year. It has now had over three million views on YouTube.

As a matter of policy, at The Emergency Plan Guide we normally avoid publishing anything that smacks of “alarmist” publicity. Unfortunately, given the open threat from al-Shabaab, recent events in Paris and Copenhagen and warnings coming today out of Homeland Security, we can probably expect soft target attacks in the not-too-distant future. And, if ISIS gets its way, even the possibility of large-scale events cannot be overlooked.

“If you see something, say something.”

The Department of Homeland Security began a new campaign at the Superbowl, promoting awareness. It applies here, too.

If you feel that your lifestyle is such that you have higher than normal exposure, you would do well to view the Houston film (it’s only about 10 minutes) and even the HBO Documentary (60 minutes). It’s important to see how many people were able to get away and how others successfully hid from the attackers.

Finally, it makes good sense to always be aware of exit routes for any public structure. And, if you see something, say something!

Joseph Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. The Documentary is available to subscribers online at HBO. There are also a number of interviews, clips and trailers available on YouTube, but some have been apparently been “hijacked” by groups trying to take advantage of the title of the documentary. Caution is advised.

 

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