Debrief – The London Terrorist Attack

Westminster, London encountered yet another terror incident on August 14. The driver of a silver “saloon car” crashed into barriers just outside of the British Parliament, and the incident was immediately treated as a terror issue.

Though not to anyone’s surprise after the London Bridge and Borough Market attack earlier this year, the London Metropolitan Police brought in their counter-terrorism unit to ensure the situation did not worsen. Two people have reported as injured.

The suspect in the August 14 vehicular terror incident is under arrest.

Vehicle ramming, or vehicular terrorism, has become a highly common form of attack for “lone wolf” assailants. This is the fourth instance in London alone. Because a car or truck is large enough and destructive enough to take out groups of people, it has become a “hack” to ensuring lives are taken and fear is instilled. While suicide bombing reigns as a capital fear for citizens, vehicular terrorism is on the rise.

What could have been done to prevent this attack? Unfortunately, not much. While police and intelligence agencies in most countries work day and night to ensure counter-terrorism efforts are effective, the unique approach of vehicle ramming attacks and terrorism has remained difficult to prevent. However, if we ask what can be done to prevent such a large impact in vehicular terrorism, the answer is more simplistic.

Barricades and bollards are examples of methods used to protect pedestrians. It is most likely because of the barricades along Parliament that only two people were injured rather than dozens as in past attacks. Lining sidewalks with large, cement posts or low-rise walls can ensure that pedestrians are less-likely victims in regular car accidents and acts of vehicle ramming. While they may not be 100 percent effective, they stop the force of the car much faster than any person can run away from a car barrelling down on them.

Terrorism like we have seen across Europe that has involved “lone wolf” attackers ramming trucks into groups of people and stabbing sprees is only likely to grow. While the London Bridge attack differed from Westminster and Berlin in that three attackers were involved, the gross similarities of personally harming people (using weapons like knives that force the attacker to look at their victims), hitting “soft targets” and claiming the act is in the name of their religion or organization highlight the need for terrorist training.

Enhancing your general situational awareness is key to ensuring your safety in the event of a terrorist incident, particularly if it involves an active shooter. In London, the sound of gunshots triggered immediate response for law enforcement and the Parliamentary offices to go into lockdown. This is the positive outcome of effective trainings and drills. Additionally, being aware of your environment — who is there, what they are holding, how they are behaving, nearest entrances and exits — offers you a chance to identify suspicious activity, report a suspicion, and prepare to run, hide, or fight.

As soon as you suspect there is a terrorist incident, be prepared to run, hide, and fight. Put yourself into a mindset that keeps you calm yet reactive. Your first instinct should be to run away from the situation. Once you can confirm you are safe, locate or call police officers or local security.

If running is not possible, find a hiding place. This can be into a room with a lock or objects to barricade the door, behind dense objects, or in a dark space in which identifying a target would be difficult. Keep it in mind that you may need to move to a new space as the threat gets closer and that you may also end up fighting. Wherever you are, fashion yourself an improvised weapon with which to fight.

If you are forced to engage in a fight with the instigator, you have three key goals: defend yourself, incapacitate the perpetrator, and secure his/her weapon as quickly as possible. Heavy objects from your surroundings that can be thrown at or bashed into the perpetrator are ideal weapons. If there are others with you, work as a team.

Remember, your safety is primary in any terrorist situation.

AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people tracing, and background investigation. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit

By Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner