The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 12, 2001, 12:07 PM   #1
PaladinX13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2000
Posts: 519
Correct way to handle hostage situations?

Many are condemning those lost on the planes as sheep or cowards, but I'd like to ask what is the appropriate response from civilians in hostage situations? No doubt, it varies from situation to situation, but perhaps a few questions to get you thinking, I'm not sure of my own answers but one should not be so quick to judge "They should have done this..."

This is not a self-defense situation... it is not as simple as "us vs them". It is a hostage situation. You may be perfectly willing to sacrifice your life, but do you have the right to sacrifice the life of another? For instance, if your actions would endanger someone else's child (held hostage, knife to neck, for instance)- after they've shown a willingness to stab and kill- should you then still rally against them? This is a general question, not plane specific, but with the condition of being disarmed...

How do you deal with disinformation? The terrorists can make threats, demands, and claims about what they can do, what they want, etc. How do you know if they're right when they claim they can blow up the plane with a touch of a button? If they say they are flying to New York to pick up their brother (meaning likely a landing and peaceful resolution)? If they say they will crash the plane at the first sign of resistance? At what point do you have the right to claim they're lying and fight back? What if they tell you nothing? We should always fight back?

Finally, is it not a fact that most hijackings end "peacefully" in the real world- not just some movie fantasy? This recent tragedy is the only time I've heard of passengers ("potentially" we don't really know do we?) fighting back- ending in a crash. Has there ever been a successful case of passengers fighting back? (And we're not talking just a lone nut, but a cohesive planned act of terrorism)

I can understand the frustration with the apparent "lack of action" on the part of the passengers, but hopefully we'll be able to answer some of these questions. If anyone works in law enforcement or counter-terrorism I'd especially be interested in your answers. For us, what is the correct way to handle a hostage situation?

Edit: I just want to say that I do not doubt the heroism or bravery of those that fought back- but I am inquiring into the most rational or tactical approach. In my mind, I believe that the terrorists on the PA flight were, perhaps, less competent- allowing several cell phone calls. We know that Tom Burnett called his wife saying "We’re all gonna die, but three of us are going to do something" (probably two others seated with him). Likely, during their movement others rallied... however, the piloting terrorist, unwilling to accept the failure of the passengers retaking the plane, crashed it. Another possibility, their attack failed and the terrorists crashed it before more people became heroic. Just my mental recreation. The point is, while in hindsight their actions were for the best, what is the best action for your "average" situation?

Last edited by PaladinX13; September 12, 2001 at 12:42 PM.
PaladinX13 is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 02:48 PM   #2
Mikke
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 30, 2000
Location: Ume?, Sweden
Posts: 154
Ultimately fighting back is probably the only way. With what happened yesterday we now know that every highjacking can lead to something similar, and fighting the highjackers is the only option.

There is articles written that describes this much better then I can
http://home.sprynet.com/~frfrog/crisis.htm
http://home.sprynet.com/~frfrog/cowards.htm

It's easy with hindsight to say that the people on the planes was cowards and that they should have done something, but I can't say for sure if I'd had done anything other then they did.
I can only hope (and think) I would have the courage to fight highjackers armed with boxcutters, but hopefully I will never know.
Mikke is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 04:32 PM   #3
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX, USA
Posts: 22,540
It's nigh impossible to say in advance what I'd do in such a situation. I'd hope I controlled my fears, and would either initiate or refrain from stupid initiation as a function of rational assessment of the situation.

However, hindsight tells us that the three who somehow began action which led to the crash in Pennsylvania may have saved another target from destruction. Had the intended target been the White House or the Capitol, the tradeoff in the number of lives lost was well worth it.

But who'll ever know if the other three groups of passengers bought into some line of lies along the lines of, "If you obey, you will live."?

Art
__________________
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
Art Eatman is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 05:25 PM   #4
Recon
Member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2001
Location: PA
Posts: 50
It is all going to depend on the situation. We'll probably never know how much info the passengers had. If you know they are going to kill you and in this case kill many others, fight back and at least die fighting. Those guys on the plane in PA. saved untold lives. Most hijackings are the fly me here and let my brother go type where few die and most end in surrender or a military rescue. It comes down to the same type deal in a mexican standoff. If you give up your gun you're at their mercy. Train in disarms and get to the range as often as possible. Learn to improvise and don't just rely on a gun. The life you save just might be your own.
Recon is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 10:45 PM   #5
PreserveFreedom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I wouldn't call them sheep or cowards. I truly believe that they had no idea where their final destination would be. Why risk your life if you think you will be saved?
 
Old September 13, 2001, 07:49 AM   #6
Mike in VA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 1998
Location: Santa FE, NM
Posts: 2,163
PF has a point. Previous experience points at a hostage situation, not a suicide mission. It does appear that the folks on the PA-crashed plane had heard about the WTC and knew they were gonners, so they did the right thing and took 'em down.

May God hold them and may those brave men & women rest in peace.
__________________
M2
The Second Amendment IS homeland defense!
Mike in VA is offline  
Old September 14, 2001, 02:18 AM   #7
66mustang
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 14, 2001
Location: Palouse, Washington
Posts: 3
I like to think that I would react right in the same situation. But once the bad guys have taken control, it makes it very difficult. My background is security, US Army, anti-terrorism, etc., and I know that it is easier to say than do. Easy to say, "I'd take them out", but if they have hostages between you and them...

Although knives are much easier to deal with than guns... You have much more of a chance and they have to get close to you, as you have to get close to them.
__________________
Ed
66mustang is offline  
Old September 14, 2001, 08:34 AM   #8
PaladinX13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2000
Posts: 519
66mustang, I'm going to take you at your word on your credentials, and consider you the expert I've been looking for. Now you say you would act, but from what we now know, on all planes the terrorists made threats of a bomb, and that those on the PA fought back because they had recieved cell phone calls telling them what had happened in New York... in other words, they had superior intel. My main question is "How do you deal with disinformation?"

In general, you assume the bomb threat is a lie and fight? How do you deal with the possibility that not every terrorist is standing and aggressive ("hiding" as a passenger) so if their threat IS true, that it's not as simple as "taking out" those guys with knives... anyone sitting down can be your enemy? I understand that MOST hostage/war situations take place w/o complete or accurate information, so is it the policy of Counter Terrorists to ALWAYS act... even at the risk of a truly great tragedy? I really look forward to your answers.

I understand the situation has changed and now Americans are likely to go on the attack (which, unfortunately, might be just what the terrorist wants in cases where the destruction of the airplane is the only goal)... whatever defense we come up with, terrorists will have years to think of ways to circumvent it.
PaladinX13 is offline  
Old September 14, 2001, 09:31 PM   #9
66mustang
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 14, 2001
Location: Palouse, Washington
Posts: 3
hijacking and do nothing??

PaladinX13 you are absolutely right. I guess I should have phrased it, I would WANT to do something, anything. In reality, you se a guys neck cut from a box knife, how brave are you? For me, that would scare the hell out of me. I'd still want to do something, I'm no hand t hand expert, but I'd still want to do something and if they say they have a bomb??? That has happened, a lot more than plastic knives and box cutters, so I don't think there is any way to judge when you get hit with disinformation. Very scary stuff.

If you "attack" and convince three other passengers to do the same thing and they get killed and you don't. You aren't much of a hero, not when you didn't know what kind of training those other passengers had.

So, my reply is, as usual, being an arm chair quarterback is easy, sitting on the plane and you have friends or loved ones or children on the plane... You sit there and do nothing. Almost all hijackings have usually resulted in NO deaths to passengers, (a few exceptions, one being a Navy diver, beaten to death because he was refered to as a marine, in German marine and navy diver are close). So usually sitting there and doing nothing is safest to you, your fellow passengers and your crew.

Ed
__________________
Ed
66mustang is offline  
Old September 15, 2001, 12:01 AM   #10
zot
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 2, 1999
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 566
if another hi-jacking happens and the terroists are armed with only knifes?I'm pretty sure everyone would use evrything possible and BEAT them to large masses of crap from floor to ceiling!!!
zot is offline  
Old September 15, 2001, 08:38 PM   #11
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX, USA
Posts: 22,540
Thinking about this further, and looking at the security measures now being taken and the reactions to them, I imagine that if somebody now tried to hijack a plane, people would take it for granted that whatever he said was a lie.

If you know you're gonna die, you might as well have some choice in the matter.

Art
__________________
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
Art Eatman is offline  
Old September 16, 2001, 01:46 PM   #12
tyro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2000
Posts: 404
Erick:
Quote:
Jeff Cooper's seventies vintage article on responding to terrorism should be required reading.
Is Cooper's article available now? If so, how can it be obtained?
tyro is offline  
Old September 16, 2001, 02:02 PM   #13
buzz_knox
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 2, 1999
Location: Knoxville, in the Free State of Tennesse
Posts: 4,191
Most hostage situations (even on airliners) end with the hostages going home safely. It's rare to kill a hostage and almost unheard of to try and kill everyone.

The only analogy I can think of is a robbery; if it's clear all they want is to get the money and get away, you're probably best served by complying but watching out for anything indicating a more imminent threat of death. If you can tell, though, that they are going to kill you, you might as well fight.

The passengers on Flight 93 accepted that they were already dead and fought to save the lives of others. They did good.

The passengers on the other flight (except the Pentagon strike) probably didn't know. I can't fault them, given that they were raised to comply.
buzz_knox is offline  
Old September 16, 2001, 02:36 PM   #14
Spectre
Staff Alumnus
 
Join Date: October 23, 1998
Location: DC
Posts: 3,274
Since I have been training in hand-to-hand arts for the last 7 years, I have much more training in them than firearms usage.

One could logically assume that, if the hijackers only have small sharp objects in their hands, they do not have explosive devices (otherwise, they would also have been able to bring more effective weapons with them). We must also assume we have nothing to lose by acting forcefully, and perhaps, much to gain.

Terrorists have dramatically changed their targeting after being shot down by armed civilians in Israel. One might also guess that terrorists will change their targeting of civilian airliners if passengers rip terrorists apart.
Spectre is offline  
Old September 16, 2001, 08:49 PM   #15
PaladinX13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2000
Posts: 519
Spectre, on first instinct I agreed with your analysis... but as I think about it more I'm not sure you can "logically" make that assumption. Given the mission of getting one of these three items past security: box cutter, gun, or bomb... the gun would be the last on my list. Bombs have much more flexibility in their appearance and don't need to be carry-on to be of use, a recent report on 60 Minutes (I live in NJ with only CBS remaining) shows how easily those can get on a plane. A box cutter is stealthy as it is and if necessary can be explained away through some social engineering. But the gun will effectively compromise my entire elaborate mission if I'm caught with it (since it must be on my person). Also, the gun wouldn't be needed for compliance with the addition of the bomb threat (or actual bomb).

Though I agree, submission is largely psychological... but a knife makes a good choice as it proves your serious (he has "a weapon" vs just verbal threat), can spill visible fear-inducing blood, victim remains alive to make fear-inducing screams, etc.... and it's unlikely to "depressurize" the plane (causing you to fail your mission possibly) as some have suggested a stray shot from a gun would.
PaladinX13 is offline  
Old September 18, 2001, 02:00 AM   #16
Chuck Ames
Member
 
Join Date: September 27, 1999
Posts: 84
Conventional wisdom has always been to be the "gray man" keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down in the event of a take down.

They weren't cowards, they were doing what even professionals are taught to do. This kind of attack has never been done before (but Clancy wrote about it in a book a few years ago), and the victims response has always worked. Now the correct response for hostages will be, do everything in your power to kill the SOB's as quickly as possible. Period!
Chuck Ames is offline  
Old September 23, 2001, 12:20 AM   #17
Ahhnuld
Member
 
Join Date: September 5, 2001
Location: Texas
Posts: 31
Why have we not learned from the best?


The events of September 11th have brought a sobering reality to many Americans, most of whom have never lived or even visited the Middle east. Israel has a simple and effective approach, "You DO NOT negotiate with terrorists". It makes no sense to be passive and "hope" people who do these things will not harm or even keep their word to not harm anyone.

God said to Abraham, "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse."
Ahhnuld is offline  
Old September 23, 2001, 12:59 AM   #18
ICBentley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 12, 2000
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 169
In regard to hijacking, the rules were changed on Terror Tuesday.

In any mass transit hijacking it must now be considered that all the passengers/hostages are already dead and the airplane, train or bus will be used to perpetrate an atrocity of much greater scope than the death of those aboard.

Incapacitate the hijackers, at any cost.

If any message is given to a hostage taker it must be: If you hurt anyone, you are meat. I/we are coming to kill you now. Only immediate surrender will save your life. Then take action according to those words.

This is very difficult for Americans to whom every life is sacred. Nonetheless, if we really hold life sacred we must have the resolve to end the threat now, before it grows.

There is no safety in acquiescence. We no longer have the luxury of assuming that the hostage taker doesn't really want to hurt anyone. If a particular hostage taker actually does not want to kill, he will surrender when issued the ultimatum or his hesitation will cost his life. It is my firm belief that this policy will end the routine taking of hostages by criminals and terrorists.

Bentley
ICBentley is offline  
Old September 25, 2001, 01:47 AM   #19
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX, USA
Posts: 22,540
To shift emphasis from being one of the hostages, to looking in from the outside at a hostage situation: I dunno how far back the idea occurred--a good number of years, anyway. It's harsh, but our national policy should be that any hostage is, by definition, dead. There will be no negotiation. Period.

Mr. Bank Robber, we don't care what you do inside that house. You're alone with dead bodies. Either come out right now, or die.

Mr. Terrorist...Ditto.

No TV news allowed anywhere near the site; no telephones; electricity and water turned off. No negotiation at all; just police snipers, waiting.

We might lose a few folks; some Bad Guys are slow learners. However, the word would spread and the behavior would change, right in line with Spectre's comments about the changes in Israel.

(The "Palestinian" terrorists commonly attacked schools. Israel armed and trained its teachers. After a few cases of Teachers win, Terrorists lose, the terrs sought other targets.)

Another national policy matter (IMO) oughta be that any hijacked airplane is by definition not going for anybody's brother or becoming a symbol of protest and subject to negotiations on TV. It is now a flying bomb and all passengers should try to emulate Flight 93.

"That was then;" and "this is now." are divided by 9-11.

Art
__________________
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
Art Eatman is offline  
Old September 25, 2001, 01:17 PM   #20
PaladinX13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2000
Posts: 519
I agree with the idea but as a practical matter then what needs to happen is that measures need to be taken so that attacks can't become hostage situations. Otherwise, it just becomes a game of suicidal terrorists willing to trade a handful of their lives for a bunch of civilians and psychological/economic disturbance (consider the must lesser targets in Israel that the suicide bombers have been hitting recently). I agree that a plane is a bomb, but it can be a target itself.

So basically, I'd rather they arm the pilots and crew (currently a realistic proposition) to prevent a hostage situation than to try and figure out how to get out of one. Assuming the airforce steps up its reaction time and adopts the same philosophy as you (hopefully), the question might be moot... we might be shot down whatever we do. How much time (from a target) should be given to allow passengers to retake a plane?
PaladinX13 is offline  
Old September 25, 2001, 05:49 PM   #21
PaladinX13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2000
Posts: 519
http://www.snopes2.com/rumors/pilot.htm

Quote:
The pilot/captain came on the loudspeaker after the doors were closed. His speech went like this:

"First I want to thank you for being brave enough to fly today. The doors are now closed and we have no help from the outside for any problems that might occur inside this plane. As you could tell when you checked in, the government has made some changes to increase security in the airports. They have not, however, made any rules about what happens after those doors close. Until they do that, we have made our own rules and I want to share them with you.

Once those doors close, we only have each other. The security has taken care of a threat like guns with all of the increased scanning, etc. Then we have the supposed bomb. If you have a bomb, there is no need to tell me about it, or anyone else on this plane; you are already in control. So, for this flight, there are no bombs that exist on this plane.

Now, the threats that are left are things like plastics, wood, knives, and other weapons that can be made or things like that which can be used as weapons.

Here is our plan and our rules. If someone or several people stand up and say they are hijacking this plane, I want you all to stand up together. Then take whatever you have available to you and throw it at them. Throw it at their faces and heads so they will have to raise their hands to protect themselves.

The very best protection you have against knives are the pillows and blankets. Whoever is close to these people should then try to get a blanket over their head -- then they won't be able to see. Once that is done, get them down and keep them there. Do not let them up. I will then land the plane at the closest place and we WILL take care of them. After all, there are usually only a few of them and we are 200+ strong! We will not allow them to take over this plane.

I find it interesting that the US Constitution begins with the words "We, the people" -- that's who we are, THE people and we will not be defeated."
Just something I found interesting... some logical fallicies, but the emotional value is real and tactically true. So we fight.
PaladinX13 is offline  
Old September 28, 2001, 07:45 AM   #22
LASur5r+P
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 28, 2001
Location: soCal,Republic of
Posts: 111
Hostages

Palladin,Spectre,Art, et al,
I see that you have come to the conclusion about life as many of us had learned in the martial arts in the 60's...you only have two choices in life when faced with your demise...."to die..." or "to die fighting, hopefully, to take one of the b@stards with you."

It was in a movie, wasn't it where an Indian warrior said, "Today is a good day to die!"

As a "warrior", you must be prepared to die at anytime.

As "warriors" we train to face death honorably and not show fear. Many of you have chosen to be a "warrior" in this game of life....as an American warrior, we have trained to make the other b@stard die for his believes.....we do not chose to die first."

Good to see some of you have chosen your way of life.
__________________
proud to be an American.
LASur5r+P is offline  
Old September 28, 2001, 10:21 AM   #23
Quartus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 8, 2001
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,823
Quote:
Most hostage situations (even on airliners) end with the hostages going home safely. It's rare to kill a hostage and almost unheard of to try and kill everyone.
That USED to be true. It now must be assumed to be a case of kill or die.
__________________
.

Better to know what you don't know than to think you know what you don't know.
Quartus is offline  
Old September 28, 2001, 11:24 AM   #24
Correia
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 3, 1998
Location: SLC Utah
Posts: 3,740
At the last gunshow I noticed that the little plastic knives a.k.a. CIA letter openers were selling like hotcakes.
Correia is offline  
Old September 28, 2001, 02:22 PM   #25
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX, USA
Posts: 22,540
In 1949/1950, I lived in Manila. Went to high school with kids--and two cousins--who had been interned by the Japanese. I guess that's when I got a feel for the harshness of some of life's choices. A tour of occupation duty in Korea in 1954/1955 just added to it, being stationed at Inchon and knowing that a friend of mine had died there during the invasion.

So, yeah, "It's a lovely day to die!", as said in the movie "Little Big Man". I'd rather die laughing at some clot-brain whose plans I'd messed up, than cowering in fear.

, Art
__________________
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
Art Eatman is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13132 seconds with 7 queries