FBI Has Been Staging Mock Responses To Simulated Terrorist Attacks In U.S. Malls For Nearly Two Years To Test Readiness

FBI Has Been Staging Mock Attacks In U.S. Malls For Nearly Two Years To Test Readiness

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A law enforcement official who spoke to CNN today, stated that “the FBI has been preparing for nearly two years — conducting a series of mock exercises — simulating having to confront with a major terrorist incident at a major U.S. shopping mall in the United States. The law enforcement official said these mock simulations of a major terrorist attack on a U.S. mall, began in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at a at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2013 that left more than 60 dead.”

“Last year, the FBI partnered with various malls across the U.S.to ensure the FBI and local/state authorities would be prepared to confront a major terrorist attack — similar to the type the al-Qadea-linked, Somalia-based al-Shaabab group conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. These exercises, “tested the readiness of FBI swat teams, by staging fake attacks at major U.S. shopping malls — outside of working hours.”

“The Lennox Square Shopping Mall in Atlanta, Georgia, was one of the establishments that held a mock terrorist attack to test; and, improve multi-agency response efforts and skills,” according to a February 23, 2015 article in The Christian Science Monitor, by Christina Maza. Ms. Maza adds that the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security partnered with the Atlanta Police Department, as well as representatives from state and local fire and emergency medical services for the drill. The drills aimed to prepare mall security personnel for the worst; and, teach private and municipal security personnel/authorities, to work together in case of an emergency.”

These kind of exercises are critical to help educate Federal, state, and local law enforcement, emergency first responders, and mall security personnel on potential courses of action, and some major do’s and don’ts — should they ever be confronted with a situation such as the one al-Shaabab conducted at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Kenya in September 2013. But, nothing ever seems to go as expected. How security personnel really react when confronted in a real, life-and-death situation won;t ever really be known unless and until a real incident occurs. And, the adversary may well do things that were never expected or mentioned in these mock exercises — so, there is a limit to how effective they can be. But, ironing out who is in charge, how the medical emergency and first responder community will coordinate their actions, ensuring a common lexicon for communications, ensuring inter-operable means of communication, and what common things need and should be done — regardless of how the event unfolds — are all extremely useful and important to rehearse ahead of time. This kind of training can and does save lives. But, these kind of mock exercises have to be done frequently, and they have to be supported and have the senior officials actually participate as well — otherwise, these kind of efforts become stale and lose their importance and effectiveness, if the top, senior executives do not participate, and send in a stand-in to represent them. Personal involvement from the top is required, for these kind of exercises to really pay dividends — should the real thing occur. But, that kind of involvement is also often expensive — in terms of resources, manpower, time, etc. It is a balancing act; but, bottom line, these kind of exercises can be invaluable and save lives — if they are given the kind of support from the top that is required. V/R, RCP

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