Matters have been exacerbated by recent police reports that terrorists attached to Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab secretly sneaked into Kampala on a dangerous mission.
In this masterpiece, the Director Counter Terrorism AIGP N. J. Ndungutse takes us through the terrorists’ state of mind, where he/she resides and how to survive terror attacks.
Terrorism: What You Need To Know
Since the July 11 2010 terrorist attacks in Kampala, many Ugandans still continue to ask questions about terrorism. Questions routinely asked include: what is terrorism, why do terrorists carry out attacks, how can the community help to fight terrorism, what should one do to guard against a terrorist incident?
Below are some of the answers to the above questions.
Q: What is Terrorism, and what are its Aims?
A: Terrorism, among others, is a criminal act that involves an indiscriminate use of violence or the threat of violence against individuals or property to coerse the individuals support an intended objective which may be political, economic, social or religious.
Acts of terrorism unlike other criminal activities are conducted primarily to send a message of fear and intimidation to the public.
Q: What are some of the things terrorists do to instill fear and intimidation in the public
A: Terrorists plant / detonate bombs in buildings or places of public gatherings as was the case at Lugogo Rugby club and at Ethiopian village restaurant in Kabalagala.
They may shoot their intended victims or carry out indiscriminate shootings, engage in hostage taking. They may assign their operatives to poison their targets or deliberately burn buildings and other properties, etc.
Q: Where do terrorist live / hide?
A: Terrorists and people who support them live within our community. They may also hide in some hard to reach secluded places such as war torn areas, forests etc. To avoid detection, they will attempt to blend with the community in terms of physical appearance, dressing, and behave normally until the time of executing the assigned mission.
Q: How can the public / community help to fight terrorism?
A: Members of the public must be conscious of the threat of terrorism. As such, they should take keen interest in knowing all activities in their surroundings.
Suspicious objects, persons and activities should immediately be reported to the nearest security or community leader in the area.
Civic leaders, faith based organizations and civil society can sensitize and mobilize the public against the threat.
The family is the foundation of society. Parents can play a vital role in the fight against terrorism by giving parental guidance to their children; nurturing them with moral values of love, respect for humanity and sense of belonging. Additionally, they should take interests to know what their children are doing and what kind of group(s) they associate with.
Organizers of public events and large social gatherings should always contact security in advance to ensure adequate security measures are put in place.
Proprietors of premises must ensure they put in place recommended basic security measures at their facilities. These measures include; deployment of security guards at premises, screening of persons and their baggage, installation of adequate lighting, fencing, etc.
Q: What should one do in an event of a terrorist attack?
A: Do the following:
Before An Attack
1) Learn about potential terrorist targets.
• Terrorists usually look for visible targets which once attacked will attract maximum media attention such as high-profile landmarks; transport terminals; large event arenas; crowded places like markets, shopping malls, churches, drinking joints, etc.
2) Learn about the different tactics that terrorists use to carry out attacks such as bombings (use of explosives), armed attacks (shootings), kidnappings, hijackings, assassinations, arson, poisoning, etc.
3) Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by adapting some of the very techniques used to prepare for other crises:
• Be alert and aware of the surrounding area.
• Be aware of suspicious or unusual behavior.
• Take precautions when travelling.
• Do not accept packages from strangers.
• Do not leave luggage unattended.
• Learn where emergency exits and staircases are located.
• Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, or congested public area in a hurry.
• Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion.
Prepare for a Building Explosion
The use of explosives by terrorists can result in collapsed buildings and fires. If you live or work in a multi-storey building, you should do the following:
• Know where fire exits are located.
• Check to see if they are in a working condition.
• Learn how to use them.
• Learn first aid.
If you receive a bomb threat:
• Get as much information from the caller as possible.
• Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said.
• Notify the police, the building management, and where applicable the workplace safety officer.
• After you’ve been notified of a bomb threat, do not touch any suspicious items.
• Clear the area around the suspicious item and notify the police immediately.
• In evacuating a building, avoid standing in front of windows or other potentially hazardous areas.
• In a building explosion, get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible.
During an Attack
If items are falling off from above, get under a sturdy table or desk.
If there is fire:
• Stay low to the floor and exit the building as quickly as possible.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth.
• When approaching a closed door, use the palm of your hand and forearm to feel the lower, middle and upper parts of the door.
• If it is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly.
• If it is hot to the touch, do not open the door, try an alternate escape route.
• Heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling, so, stay below the smoke at all times.
After an Attack
If you are trapped in debris:
• Use a flashlight.
• Stay in your area so you don’t kick up dust, and cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
• Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are.
• Use a whistle if you have one (three short blasts is the international signal for help).
• Shout only as a last resort as shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Assistance to Victims
If you are untrained, do not attempt to rescue people who are trapped inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Vigilance and the effective use of your eyes is the answer to preventing a terrorist attack.