Category Archives: E&E

Target selection process

I must confess that I am no counter terrorism expert. I train and prepare a lot more for Sammy Stickup than Johnny Jihad. But I’ve never understood the terrorist fascination with planes. Back when they could hijack a plane, try to get some jihadies released from prison (did they really do that, or was that just in the movies?), I could see it. But since we all expect them to blow them up anyway, why the focus?

This mall is a soft target compared to commercial aviation. You could place and explode bomb(s) here and not even have to die to do it. So why don’t they? I suspect it is because making bombs is hard and there aren’t nearly as many terrorists capable of pulling off the building, placing and detonating as some would have us believe. I’m not about to go anti-.gov conspiracy rant here. It is in the jihadies best interests for us to believe they are many. It’s in the media’s best interest for us to believe the threat is high so we’ll keep watching their news reports. It is in the .gov’s best interest (at least Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, TSA). Lots of conspiracy to go around then.

What to do if Johnny Jihad goes shopping

My basic plan for Johnny Jihad trying to blow up the mall I am in is to hope the blast isn’t near me and that I don’t get trampled to death by the fleeing horde. To that end I will share my two concrete pieces of advice for leaving a building that several hundred of your closest friends are also trying to leave.

First of all, mall stores are typically store fronts, meaning there is a store behind. If you go through a store you are likely to find tunnels/hallways in back that can lead you out of the mall while the rest of the crowd tries to get out through the general admission doors. I know the mall I often go to is like this because I used to work there. Some stores may not have access to the hallways, so you’d best know which ones do. Hint: The ones you saw being renovated, but never saw any equipment, men, or materials entering or leaving; they have secret tunnel access.

If you do have to exit a door which a crowd of others are trying to exit, you should politely wait your turn.. while you are either crushed to death by the crowd or shot, blown up or burned to death by Johnny and his friends. If that doesn’t sound too good, then go to the wall next to the door. Studies (which I can’t find now) show that the flow out the door moves faster at the sides than it does in the middle. So press in from the sides and you’ll get out the door faster. As a bonus, you may not get trampled because except for a few seconds, you won’t be standing in front of the door anyway. Think of it as cutting in line; the line of Life.

I’m pretty sure I know nothing about spotting Johnny Jihad before be goes kerplowey. This guy seems to know something about it (Warning: rough language). I can’t vouch for it, but I like anyone who gives me an easy to follow list of precursors to danger.

Advertisements

Web Breakdown

This is already over the blogs, so you’ve probably already read about it. If not, make sure you check out this description before you read on. Contrary to what I was taught in High School journalism class, the reporter seems to have trouble reporting the How, What, Why, Where, and Whens of the story. So the timeline is a bit muddled. I will try to break down some essential bits of the story into bite size lessons.

1) Despite what your administrators, legislators, and law enforcement officials tell you, the guns are already on campus (and everywhere else you go).

An argument between Justin Macklin and former student Austin Morrow, 20, near the Business and Aerospace Building building resulted in Macklin shooting the other in the hand, according to police and an alert issued by the school.

This happened on a college campus in a state where it is illegal to carry a gun on campus, so right now you know that Macklin was breaking the law. Since we was the student and Morrow the former student, Macklin was likely breaking the law yesterday too, and the day before that. Which is to say, people are carrying guns on campus right now regardless of the law.

2) Your disarmed classmates (or coworkers) probably aren’t going to be much help.

Christopher Hamrick was heading into the student union building when he passed the two men causing a commotion, he said. “There was a slight argument between a tall, black fellow with plaid shirt and khakis jeans,” Hamrick said. “It just sound juvenile, high school.” He said he didn’t think much else about.

“I kept walking and heard a shot behind me,” said Hamrick.

Even if there are other people around you, they may not realize the seriousness of the situation. They may not even want to help. Or events may transpire so quickly that no one could intervene even if they had the desire and ability to help.

3) The police will come, but that won’t help if you are already under attack.

Police with high-powered guns rushed to campus.

I’m glad they left the .22 shorts at home and brought real guns. But that didn’t help Morrow who was already shot. No cops were there to act as his personal security detail. There aren’t enough details in the story, so it is also possible that Macklin was justified in shooting Morrow. If that is the case, then no cops were there to protect Macklin from Morrow either. You are on your own.

4) The police may not be rushing in to confront the attacker. You may have to deal with him yourself.

After the shooting, police said, Macklin tried to hide in a classroom building, but police surrounded the building and took him into custody when he tried to leave [by blending in with other students leaving the building]. The weapon, a .32-caliber revolver, along with two small bags of marijuana, were later found in the building.

The argument and shooting happened outside, then the suspect ran into a building with other students and faculty present. The cops then rushed in and immediately apprehended…oh wait… they surrounded the building and waited for the suspect to come out. This may be a sound tactical decision for the police, I am not a cop. But if Macklin had been an active shooter then several more people are getting shot while the police are outside waiting.

Since there is no timeline in the story I can’t say how long he was in there before coming out. No matter what, it takes several minutes for police to respond. The story says a SWAT team was there; that takes time to assemble too. However long it was, those people in there with him, while the police were waiting outside, were on their own. None of the people college students might expect to protect them where there.

5) Priorities: secure your immediate surroundings; harden your position.

Jamie Smith, 20, a pre-dental major, said she was in history class with 50 others when they received a text alert from the school saying there had been a shooting in their building. “Everybody just started running toward the windows to see what was happening,” she said.

Oh good grief. The proper response to being informed that someone has been shot in the building you are in is not to run to the windows. Windows are neither cover nor concealment. If the bad guy is out there and fights it out with the cops, you are now possibly down range in a gun fight.

The proper response in this case, especially if you are not armed, is to immediately secure all of the entrances to the room you are in. Don’t just lock the doors, but stuff like desks and bookcases in front of them. Next, arm yourself with whatever weapons you can find or make. Finally get down out of the window line. Preferably behind items that can act as cover (cover is something that will actually stop a bullet) and that give you sight lines to the room entrances. If you have a gun, make sure there are no other people between your cover position and the doors. If you don’t have a gun, make sure lots of people other than those you love are between you and the doors.

Summary:

You must be ready to handle the situation yourself. Others are not likely to help and the police will take several minutes to arrive and when they get there they may not intervene immediately. When there is a reported shooter in your building you can either attempt to flee or stay in place. Both are valid options. If the cops are on the way or outside, you should probably stay and secure your position.

Grey Man

“From now on you’ll have no identifying marks of any kind. You’ll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You’re a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don’t exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You’re no longer part of the System. You’re above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We’re “them.” We’re “they.” We are the Men in Black.” — Men In Black

The last few years I’ve done a good job at looking like the family security guard (my wife’s words). You’ve seen pictures on this site of me with my tactical pants and black shirts. So I thought I’d try to get better at blending in. In Sayoc we would call this being the “Grey Man.” The grey man is not remarkable. He doesn’t draw attention by his clothes or manner.

In Oklahoma City, jeans, a hoodie, and tennis shoes are pretty much standard wear. I could wear that to any restaurant except for the 3 or 4 up-scale places still left and not stand out. I’d probably wear it to Wednesday night church service, but would dress in slacks and a blazer on Sundays lest I stand out.

Sorry, I’m not more photogenic.

You can’t really see it, but in the first picture the only visible “weapon” I have is a folding knife in my right front pocket. Every man has them here, only my wife whipping out hers draws any attention.

Underneath the hoodie I have a Walther PPS in 9mm in appendix carry position, a Cold Steel Brave Heart on the left, a neck knife. Not shown is another folder in my left back pocket. You can’t see my shoes, but I traded out my 5.11 boots for Salomon shoes. Once BladeRigs gets done with my custom sheaths, I expect the knife carry to get easier and more stealthy.

This isn’t my only set-up. If I wear a bigger hoodie then I can hide my Glock 17 in a Crossbreed holster behind my hip. The number and positions of the knives change too. The point is to be capable without standing out.

None of this negates dressing for the part of bad-ass. Sometimes I want my look to say “go away”. Sometimes I want to blend in. But I always want to look good.

Have a Plan

Last night I gave my students several combinations to do. Some were pro-active. If you know there is going to be a fight, you might as well hit first is the idea. Some drills were re-active. You find out you are in a fight when you notice the incoming blow. But even in those drills I gave them lots of choices. You could follow-up with a kick or a knee. Step to the left or right. Lots of choices. Which choice you make will depend on the tactical situation at the time.

I might end my combination with a back kick to the nuts because I am turning to run out the door and don’t want the BG to follow.  If he is between me and the door, maybe a knee would do the trick. But then do I want to step off to the right or the left? Which way is that door anyway?

How fast do fights happen? Once the fists, knives, or guns start firing everything happens at 200mph. You will not be able to make tactical decisions that fast. You are going to have to make those decisions before the fight starts if you expect to make them consciously at all.

It is said that you should be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Maybe you are not the killing sort, but you can still make plans. If there is a fire then how will you get out of the building? I’m at a party at a friend’s house, which room in this house is the most tornado proof? If this guy takes a swing at me with his right arm, what combination will I use to counter and strike? Will the finisher for that combo leave me headed toward an exit?

These, and others, are questions you need to ask before the big bad starts happening.

Symantec Identifies Stealth Trojan in Tap Snake Game | Android Community

Symantec has positively identified a stealth trojan tucked away inside the video game, Tapsnake. The game is available in the Android Market, so we’ll go ahead and say this: don’t download it. A few people started to notice that, when you start the game your satellite indicator would pop-up in the right-hand part of the notification bar. This entailed that GPS data was indeed being transmitted, in some fashion.

via Symantec Identifies Stealth Trojan in Tap Snake Game | Android Community.

What they have made is a covert tracking application for Android phones. Girlfriends can install it on their boyfriends phone to find out if he’s hooking up with the ex. Or the police could install it on your phone to track your movements while you plot your revolution (although they’d probably just get the phone company to do it even more covertly). But this one at least doesn’t seem to be some generic trojain that  the hacker is trying to get 1,000s of people to install. It is targeted at one person tracking the movements of a specific individual.

If you install a video game on your phone and it requests access to your GPS and Internet connectivity, that game is naughty in your sight and should be shunned. So that isn’t how this app is getting on your phone. Its getting on your phone because someone has access to your phone while you aren’t monitoring it. For this app, you will know it is there because the GPS icon will come on, even when you aren’t using a GPS application.

Smartphones are rapidly becoming an extension of ourselves. All manner of private data is stored on them. Since the phones go with us everywhere, they also make very effective bugs. Smartphones have been modified to act as listening devices, and here as tracking devices. You can’t live without it, so you should probably start treating it with the respect due something that important in your life.

Your smartphone should be treated with the same care you would give your laptop and at least in my case, even a firearm. Don’t loan it out. Don’t leave it laying round. Lock it up when you aren’t using it. For that last bit, on an Android phone, you should at least be using an unlock pattern. From the home screen press the menu button, then “Settings” and look for “Security”. Set and use an unlock pattern. Even better, if you have the right Android version, is to set an unlock code. Entering the code every time you want to use the phone can be a hassle at first, but you can get used to it.

Finally, if you need to go somewhere and want to be absolutely sure that no one is tracking your phone. Take Joe Huffman’s advice: remove the battery.

Getting out of a Crowd

At least four people were injured and three arrested late Friday night after a brawl in the Metro system involving as many as 70 people, a Metro spokeswoman said.

I’ve given some though to having to get myself and my family out of a hostile environment. I often will get into a situation, at the mall, Wal-Mart, or the state fair, where I will say to my wife, “I didn’t bring enough ammo.” Thinking that if I had to shoot my way out of that area then, because of the size of the crowd, I didn’t bring enough bullets. But since life isn’t a zombie movie, chances are, if we have to escape and evade, the “crowd” is probably filled with innocent bystanders and not the living dead.

GeekGirls

When it comes to sheep, my flock before yours.

I’m sorry I’m such a prick, but frankly if its me and my family or you and your family, then it will be us. No question. I will kick, punch, shove, trip, and yes, even kill* to make sure my family makes it to safety. If you wouldn’t do that for your family, then what sort of person are you? If you believe that everyone is of equal value and would sacrifice your children for someone else, then please make sure if I’m coming through you throw a couple of your kids into the crowd to make way for us. Because I am 100% sure that my wife and baby daughter are making it to safety. My boys are excellent at putting the boot in the groin so I’d put money on them making it out too.

If I’m by myself or once my family is safe, I will do what I can to make sure you get to safety too. But this is my philosophy for this situation:

We will keep moving toward safety, we will not stop for anything until we get there, and obstacles in our way are cleared by any means or force necessary.

Family Planning.

I ran a drill the other night with one of my Krav students. I was punching the bag and she would run the length of the mat and then tap me on either the left or right shoulder. Whichever shoulder she tapped would be the direction I would peel off and run the mat and come back to tap her while she punched the bag. We worked this out before the drill; calmly and clearly. We still both messed it up at least once during the 7 minutes or so we ran it. We would tap the shoulder and then be standing on that side so the person would run into us. Or when our shoulder was tapped we would turn the wrong way or be indecisive about which way to turn. This was a low stress warm up drill before we really did anything in class.

The time to figure out what you’re going to do in an emergency is before it happens. Its bad enough if you actually have a plan, having no plan will just lead to tons of second guessing and miscommunication.

To get out of a crowd my family has a plan. We have our “brickhouse” formation:

GeekDaddy
Oldest son
Youngest son
Baby daughter
GeekWife

Oldest son carries some pretty sweet steel rods (no pointy bits) that make great projectiles and palm sticks. He will load me up anytime given the signal. Everyone stays tight. If I get held up dealing with some bad guy, GeekWife will snag up the kids so they are hanging on her belt or jeans and keep going. She will not even look back. The kids get to safety, no question. If wife gets hung up, oldest son will take the lead, putting the boot in the groin, and leading the other kids to safety. How does he know where safety is? Because we tell him, before a situation ever erupts. “This is our rally point” we say while standing next to the space needle at the State Fair. He also knows that inside of Wal-Mart is always a good rally point if we’re in the parking lot.

Tactics.

Getting out of a crowd is different from clearing a path through a bunch of zombies. Zombies are easier. We can cut their femoral arteries, punch them in the throat, push them so they fall on pointy objects, and double tap them center mass. Good times. But a crowd of innocent bystanders are just that, innocent. Maiming and killing isn’t our first move.

First of all, to get out, look for the road less traveled. If the panicked masses are all running for one or two exits, then you head for a less commonly used one. Fire marshals and architects are often put out when a building burns to the ground and a mass of bodies around the main entrance. It seems that people generally try to leave a building the same way they came in, doubly so in an emergency. Building code dictate the number of exits required based on a building’s size. There is always more than one. Frequently I will ask GeekWife, “How are we getting out of here?” She will have already spotted the best emergency exit that is not the door we came in and that will constitute our plan. Having worked in restaurants I can tell you they almost always have an exit through the kitchen. They use it to bring supplies in from “the truck” and you can use it to get your family to tomorrow.

People are going to have to get out of our way; innocent people. Since I can’t stab, impale, or shoot them I will move them other ways. Either from the front our the back, a center mass push is a good option. In front, push with both hands in the center of the body just below the throat. In back, in the center where the shoulder blades come together. If that doesn’t work, or isn’t appropriate, then you’re going to have to resort to striking. These are my favorite targets:

  • Side of the neck; a hammer fist here can make the knees buckle or even result in a knock out;
  • Throat; punch people in the throat and you could crush their windpipe and kill them; shove your middle finger in the notch at the base of the throat though and it hurts like hell and they will get out of your way;
  • No groin, no krav maga; kick, slap, or punch a dude in the groin and he will be unhappy, but you’ll probably be gone before he can express that emotion;
  • Hair; grab the hair and direct the head out of your way; where the head goes, the body will follow.
  • Eye jab; we’re not trying to poke anyone’s eye out or burst the eye and get the goo all over our fingers; just flick the eyes and most people will reflexively cover them; follow-up with a hammer fist or a shove and be on your way.

Once you’re hitting people you are at risk of maiming or killing them. Make sure it’s worth it and necessary first. Why hit someone when a gentle nudge out-of-the-way will do?

* UPDATE: I reread this post and thought I should clarify something a bit. I wouldn’t intentionally kill someone who was not trying to kill me. But getting my family out of a bad situation may involve some striking, and hitting people in the throat isn’t free. Striking, pushing, or throwing someone comes with risk of injury or death to that person. I’d feel bad if that happened, but I’d feel bad at home.

Cops love iPhone data trail :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

The iPhones generally store more data than other high-end phones — and investigators such as [Detective Josh Fazio of the Will County Sheriff’s Department] frequently can tap in to that information for evidence.

And while some phone users routinely delete information from their devices, that step is seldom as final as it seems.

“When you hit the delete button, it’s never really deleted,” Fazio said.

The devices can help police learn where you’ve been, what you were doing there and whether you’ve got something to hide.

via Cops love iPhone data trail :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State.

My cell phone, an Android device, is an integral part of my life. It is a more powerful computer than the laptop I bought just a couple of years ago. There are probably 20 applications on it I use on a daily basis. It has a 16gig micro SD card in it that stores all kinds of personal information. Most information on it that I could consider private is also stored encrypted with a nice long password. But there is tons about me on that phone that could be mined by the .gov and criminal alike.

Phones also can store on board or report to the service provider (TMobile, AT&T, Verizon, etc..) their exact position courtesy of the on-board GPS. Android phones can report this data to Google. You can turn the GPS off, but then you loose 1/2 the features that make a smartphone worth owning. I’m pretty paranoid about government snooping and criminals alike, but I bought my phone to use, not to disable all of its features in the name of security.

So what I do is this: Treat my smartphone like I would my laptop for security purposes. My laptop is firewalled, password protected, and I don’t loan it out to other people. I keep it locked up in my house or car so it is not easily accessible to others. I’m a good guy and never knowingly engage in anything remotely criminal. But if I ever thought what I was doing might be used against me I would do one of two things:

  1. Leave my phone at home; or
  2. Turn it off and take the battery out.

If you are a bad guy, do none of these things. I want Det. Fazio to pwn you with your own phone. But everyone else, encrypt what you can, anonymize what you can, and protect your phone like you would your firearms.