by DENNIS BAULONGÈ
HOW TO REALLY BATTLE DOMESTIC TERRORISM
Europe's "summer of terror" was not prevented by secret services or video cameras. It is time for Europeans to demand their version of the Second Amendment: the inalienable right to "keep and bear Arms".
Chapter One: What is Fearlessness?
As long as I can remember I have always been more of the “fearless” type. I am putting the word fearless in quotation as I do sense fear like any other human being. Like the rest of us I also have concerns and anxieties. And I do get scared at times. But there seems to be a certain element in me that makes me refuse to lose my head in uneasy situations.
Why is that? As tempting as it is to think of myself as ‘gifted’ or ‘brave’, it is pretty safe to say that I am not above the average here. In my personal reasoning, the reason for this ‘fearlessness’ might just be biology. There is good reason to believe that people’s individual reaction to threat is formed long before they are ever exposed to terrorist attacks or killing sprees.
Even Children React to Crisis Individually
The London Tavistock clinic, the one institution that taught us how harmful it is for children to stay too long without a significant other (they die), has done some incredible research on the topic.
One experiment conducted in 1969 was titled the “Strange Situation”. The experiment designed by Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth included mothers who were to enter a room together with their 2-year-old child. After a while the mother would leave the room, leaving the child to itself. In that sense, losing their signifant other for the young infant is as much a vital threat as being fired at would be for the adult. Once the mother had left the room, observation began.
Not surprisingly, all children showed different reactions. The vast majority reacted with fear and would eventually begin to cry. Nonetheless, the experiment saw crucial differences in the children’s individual behaviour. Some children would go right after their mother as she was only slightly moving away. Some stared at the closed the door, the one spot where they last saw their mother after she had left. And then there was a tiny minority of them who, with an astounded look on their face, would turn towards the room, looking to explore the unknown.
I am assuming that if I had been part of that experiment, I would fall under the room-explorer category. There is a wide-range of episodes from the first two decades of my life that give me reason to assume that.
A First Occurrence of “Fearlessness”
For instance, I remember very vividly an episode from the time when I was 11 years old. Back then two friends of mine suggested we pay a visit to the elementary school we had left two years ago. For the ‘good old times’ sake, if you will. What was planned as a meet and greet with former teachers in fact took a different turn. Instead of feeling like the ‘alumni’ that we were, we felt out of place. New youngsters were now roaming our little football pitch, and instead of taking a stroll down memory lane we felt like we were returning to the scene of a crime. Had we been older, the word creepy might have best described how we felt.
Our little excursion first appeared to be ill-starred when we met the school’s janitor. Living on-site in a small bungalow the old man never appeared without his dog. And in two years things hadn’t changed. Right when we were approaching the bungalow a small being started rushing out of the tiny dwelling. The middle-sized dog came at us in high speed, with no sign of ever slowing down, even when it was litterally meters away. The eyes of my friends? Wide-open. Their bodies? In shock-induced paralysis from the approaching dog that was obviously going for head-on collision. My own reaction? Calling it fearless is, in hindsight, not too far off. I exclaimed “Here, doggie doggie!,” followed by “that’s my boy!”.
In the end, even at full speed the dog did not manage to knock me over. As soon my performance as the human buffer stop for the dog-turned-bullet was over my two friends re-entered the scene. They acted like nothing had happened while I wiped the dust and dirt off my clothes. From the janitor I received praise for not taking to my heels as did my peers.”That’s the spirit, son,” the old man said laughingly, “that’s what we like to see ’round here”.
The Army. A Second Occurrence of “Fearlessness”
Another “fearless” episode occurred a decade later. Out of the 80 males graduating from my high school class I happened to be the only one to engage in Germany’s – the country of my birth – compulsory military service. I am deliberately wiriting “engage” as I could have played the “Christian values”-card like most other men my age did. In order to ditch the unpleasant task the majority of them scribbled down a half-page resume, claiming their “Christan upbringing” forbid them to inflict harm onto their nearest. This moral doubt would, by law, expel them from serving in the military.
In reality, these young men were shameless. They saw no wrong in bringing up their Christian kindergarten in order to deliver proof’ for their ‘pacifist’ upbringing. Said kindergarten was, of course, a kindergarten like any other. What made it a ‘Christian’ kindergarten was that it was operated by either the catholic or protestant church, two organizations that run more than 18.000 day care centers in Germany. And once my pacifist friends had declared their conscientious objection to the draft they immediately went back to playing Counterstrike – back then the latest fashion in shoot-em-up computer games – where they drove magazines of virtual bullets through the skulls of their virtual nearest.
I, for my part, wanted to play it honest. In the most innocent meaning of the term I was a patriot, willing to defend the community I lived in. I was not afraid to deal with nine months of physical hardship. Neither was I afraid of dealing with underachievers who in the army would outrank me for the sole reason that they signed a contract while I was simply drafted. The prospect of conflict, stress and unease did not frighten me. It made me stand my ground and face what was thrown at me.
Not Caring About Firearms — And Firing Them All
Fast forward 9 months and I had made the acquaintance of dozens of people whose hand I would not shake in civilian life. Another thing was that I had also fired each and every firearm under the sun. From guns to rifles, from machine guns to rocket launchers operated by a two-man team – I had fired them all.
Far from being a gun-fetishist who is obsessed with specifications I saw guns as what they are: a tool. As demanded by the constitution which sees German armed forces in a purely defensive role I would only make use of guns to drive off foreign powers that would not mean us good. “In the end,” I thought to myself, “guns are nothing but accelerated nature. The only difference between a tiny stone thrown at you and a bullet fired at you from a rifle – is velocity,” I reasoned.
Chapter Two: Let Fearless Men Take Over
On the evening of this year’s July 22nd a young German-Iranian boy managed to cause havoc in Munich, Germany’s third largest city. The way he brought the whole city to a complete shutdown was painfully simple. 18 year-old Ali David Sonboly did not set up a bomb, nor did he use automatic weapons, let alone a rifle. What the young adolescent used for his attack that led to the death of 9 including himself, was a simple Glock 17 handgun. One of the most commonly used handguns worldwide which, as later investigations indicated, had previously served as a theater prop before it was modified illegally to fire live ammunition.
One Handgun, 2300 Police
The young man had obtained the gun over the so called Darknet, the hard-to-reach online marketplace where those items are sold that in pre-internet times were traded in dim-lit parking lots. With said gun and over 300 rounds of ammunition in a tiny backpack Sonboly took off inside a McDonald’s, continued outside his attack outside,
then went inside the nearby OEZ, the Olympic Einkaufs-Zentrum, a downtown shopping center across the street, severely wounding a total of 17 and eventually killing 9 of them.
The German state’s response to the threat of their monopoly on violence was quick – and useless.
As reports have shown a total of 2300 policemen were employed to stop the attacker. The infamous GSG9, a counter-terrorist unit that was formed in repsonse to a terrorist attack carried out by Palestinians during the summer Olympics of 1972, were flewn in by helicopter. Even Austrian forces, among them Cobra units, Austria’s own anti-terror troops, partook in the mission.
In the end, all sabre-rattling by police and anti-terror units proved itself to be just that – sabre-rattling. As it turned out the only one to stop Sonboly was himself. The young attacker took his life after he had been confronted by police men in plain clothes who fired at him once, missed and then lost track of him.
Even a rudimentary reconstruction of the events showed a classic three-step-pattern that is shared by terrorist attacks and amok-runs alike. The first step is to always start off unannounced and with full force, inflicting maximum damage within the first moments of the attack. Phase two is flight which usually sets in once the attacker is out of ammunition, is confronted by police or simply runs out of possible victims. By this time the killings have come to an end. In a third and final segment the attacker is either killed by police or kills himself.
Why ‘Counter-Terrorism’ Can Never Counter
One has to acknowledge that German police did react fast. Obviously long-fearing an attack similar to those in France, it took German police no longer than 15 minutes to activate each and every of their men. Ten minutes after the first emergency calls came in at 17:52h one thousand police men were reported to be involved, and only 90 minutes later a total of 2300 police men were engaged in the scenario.
Despite reacting impressively fast Police responded to the threat in vain. The inediquacy of state-organized violence to the attack was easily proven by the sequence of the events. After Sonboly opened fire at 17:50 he entered phase two of his attack no more than eight minutes later. By 18:00 he had killed eight, the total number of his victims, and was on his way to the top of a multi-storey car park. It was here that he had a brief exchange of insults with a man on his balcony, and it was on the top of that car park where he half-heartedly fired his last shots, thus marking the end of his attack.
Sonboly then extended the third phase of his attack by hiding inside an underground garage for two hours.
At around 20:20 he was wandering around the streets unscathed, carrying his gun concealed. At 20:30 he was approached by police, triggering him to pull out his gun and end his life on the spot.
If there was one point at which the attack could have been stopped, it was during phase one, a time span that streched over 600 seconds, the deadly ten minutes in between 17:50 and 18:00. To most men, this insight is no novelty. From their school days, from nightlife and from sports men know that if physical violence erupts, it does so with vulcano-like intensity. From life experience men will also know that violence disappears as fast as it was summoned. Terrorist attacks by their structure are no different to this.
We can now come to an easy conclusion: the 3-step nature of a terrorist attack renders any police response useless. The simple reason being that, except for the rare exception, police is never on the scene, but always has to be alerted.And one can rest assured that if it wasn’t for the previous attacks in Germany, France and Belgium, setting the state apparatus to high alert, it would have never reacted as fast as it did in Munich.
‘Fearless’ Men Can Counter
Missing the chance to act when it is needed the most, during the deadly first phase of the attack, a response by police as such is and will always be a late response. A delay, and it may be as short as the ten minutes it took Munich’s police to mobilize one thousand men, in the case of amok-runs or terrorist attacks costs actual lives.
While police can only respond late, there are people who are right on time. It is the bystanders, the possible victims who could initiate a role reversal and turn the hunter into the hunted. Did they do so in Munich?
They did not. They ran for their lives.
And from here on, the media machinery took over. The usual images of heavily armed police went across the globe, politicians were sought out to comment, and state officials spoke out for an evenl arger infringement of civil rights in order for the state to ‘combat’ terror attacks. In the case of Germany this meant the borderline-insane idea to have soldiers patrol the streets, as demanded by German minister of defense, Ursula von der Leyen.
How a ‘Fearless’ Man Might Have Reacted
As absurd as it seems the question remains as to why all of the bystanders ran.
It is needless to say that I, too, would have run. Unlike the majority of Western Europeans I have experienced first-hand how loud firearms actually are when they discharged. How frightening that sound can be if you don’t suspect it coming. I can also imagine the odd mix of adrenaline and helplessness that would occur if you had a gun firing at you in surroundings as peaceful as that Munich shopping center.
Yet seeing the pedestrians flee head over heels, and also judging from all the past situations where I did not lose my head in uneasy situations I cannot help but assume that even given the terror of the moment, I would have reacted in an alternate way. I would have tried to somewhat master the situation. Even if this meant just to know who was firing at me and why.
Yes, I would have run like the others have. But I’d nonetheless like to assume I would also seek cover at the first chance. Just running and thus offering my back to a shooter would mean an almost guaranteed death. On the other hand, hiding behind a car, behind concrete or behind wood thicker than one meter would provide cover even against rifle fire.
And if I had made it to such a favorable position I could not help but think that thinking would be re-instated. Even by a mind as stress-ridden as mine in that situation. “Once the first shot is fired, the whole camouflage-thing is over,” I was taught in the army. “Once combat starts, you start communicating! Yell out to the others! Do not hold back, yell and talk. Ask them if they are wounded. Ask them what they see in front of them. Ask them if they can give you ammunition – whatever you do, you talk to them,” was what they said over and over again during the nine months when we were playing war out in the woods of Northern Germany.
Ali David Sonboly did not communicate at all. And like all of us, he had only two hands to operate one firearm at a time. Just a brief pause for breath would allow the conclusion that the shooter was in fact all by himself.
This meant that if the firing stopped, he himself would be vulnerable. Be it that he faced problems reloading or that his gun jammed, with no one giving him cover fire the tables could be turned on him all too quickly. All it would take was one ‘fearless’ man in the perimeter with the means to strike back.
An Alternate Ending To Terrorist Attacks And Amok-Runs
And this is the one crucial insight delivered by Europe’s summer of terror: conventional measures of security are useless when it comes to terror attacks. In order to strike back during “phase one”, that is before death spreads out in full-force, two powers need to align. The first one being ‘fearless’ men, men who are able to psychologically stand their ground. These are men who attribute only as much attention to a threat as is needed in order to stay safe. As they are not overwhelmed by ‘strange’ situations it leaves them with the ability to act when everyone else is -very understably – running for their lives.
The social experiments conducted by Mary Ainsworth and many others at the London Tavistock clinic have shown that men of this calibre are very rare, but that they do exist. What held them back to engage a single, untrained shooter, preventing harm from so many others?
School’s Out — Gun’s Out!
Hardly anything shows a larger imbalance of power than being shot at in close range with no chance of ever striking back. It is the feeling of utter helplessness that suffocates even the tiniest spark of ‘fearless’ behaviour in those who are the witnesses of the first phase of an attack.
An entirely different outlook on things rises if the imbalance in the attack was leveled out. What would happen in a scenario where a lone shooter would open fire and everyone around him was armed equally with a loaded handgun? Even in a worst case scenario where even armed men would flee the scene or miss the shooter, any terrorist attack or urban killing spree would face a rather short life cycle. In fact, it is safe to assume that such an attack would be extinct on the spot.
The modern European nation state would rather die than allow its succumbants to own and carry firearms. At the same time, th historically unique enterprise is holding on to its monopoly on legitimate physical violence like never before. The ghastly yearning for a domestic employment of the military being but one of the demands by officals.
More video surveillance and more rights given to police are another side of those demands that all share the infringement of civil rights as their common ground.
Yet all terror attacks committed on Western ground more and more prove one simple fact: state-organzied violence is entirely useless against the most prominent threat of our times.
After the recent ISIS-organized terror attack in Wurzburg, Germany where a young migrant wounded passengers on a communter train before he was shot and killed by police, the question has to be asked whether the nation state played an active role in the increase of terror threats. The unscreened influx of literally millions of military-age muslim men – according to the United Nations, 78% of all migrants are single males aged 18-28 with a sparse minority of them actually hailing from Syria or other conflict zones – has to be seen as what it is: an eminent threat to individual safety.
Once these muslim men, 2/3 of them “basically illiterate” as claimed by the head of Hamburg’s (Germany) largest university, Dieter Lenzen, awake to the harsh reality that German, Dutch or Swedish are no languages one can master within a year or so, things might just take another unfavorable turn.
Confronted with language problems and a capitalist labour market that is as cut-throat as it is anywhere else in the world, welfare-state compensation or no welfare-state compensation, the one low-threshold alternative for all these man remains: islamic radicalization.
Second Amendment Rights in Europe – Now
It is time for Europeans to demand their version of what in the United States is guaranteed by the constitution: the right to keep and bear arms. As an adult man, I want to make the decision whether it is wiser for me to flee – or whether fighting back is a reasonable option in the face of an attack.
If anything, the state has proven to fail miserably at providing even a minimum of public safety. From the 1000+ attempted rapes on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, an occurrence the German state tried to sweep under the rug by issueing a nation-wide gag order on the media, over the recent attacks in Nice, Brussles and St.-
Men in uniform never have and never will be the gate keepers of individual safety. It is ‘fearless’ men who must now be granted the full and uninfringed right to self-defense. With a pan-European law enabling every sane citizen to keep and bear arms, any man can be one of the few ‘fearless’ ones.
Police cannot help you.
It is time to let fearless men take over.