Paris Terror Attacks Kill 12; How to Become A Hard Target in a Post 9/11 World.

Masked gunmen approach a downed Paris police officer.

Paris Terror Attacks Kill 12.

This is the world we live in, now. 

Masked gunmen enter the building of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and open fire, killing the editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier,  and several cartoonists, primarily for their depiction of the prophet Muhammed, which is forbidden by Quranic law. Another casualty is the police officer who was assigned to Charb as a bodyguard after receiving many threats on his life.

Charb is one courageous dude. You see, here’s a guy who didn’t let threats on his life deter him from living it to the fullest. He stated, after the 2011 firebombings:

“I am not afraid of retaliation. I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. It perhaps sounds a bit pompous, but I prefer to die standing than living on my knees.”

And he didn’t change a thing. He kept criticizing extremists and Islam as a whole. He DGAF. You sir, get an honorary salute from this devil dog.

Let’s Get Tactical.

Alright, shooters, let’s deconstruct this attack and talk about how we can advise civilians to become more proactive in hard targeting.

1. The shooters spoke fluent French. This is very telling. In my opinion, there are two options for the identity of our shooters. First, we may learn that they were a cell group, training and waiting inside France for orders to carry out an attack. Secondly, we may hear that they are French citizens who were recruited by an extremist organization. Wouldn’t surprise me, as in America we have been warned to secure our social media because ISIS is trying to recruit US citizens to carry out terror attacks against service members.

AP Photo/Thibault Camus
AP Photo/Thibault Camus

2. There were three gunmen. One leader, and two shooters. Okay, now we have some more telling information. One gunman was clearly the leader, guiding the other two gunmen and providing command and control capabilities for the team. This narrows the possibility that our shooters were recruited and points to more ‘professional’ training.

4. No hesitation when shooting the downed police officer. Look very closely at the image above, I took it just moments before the officer was allegedly shot in the head. Word is spread that he is still alive and being treated for his injuries, so my heart goes out to him and his family. This moment is chilling. It shows that our shooters have prior experience. Indeed, I would wonder if such a long term target for ISIS would be trusted to a couple French recruits. No, I think these three were militants in their own right. The officer also raises his hand in a defensive gesture. He was no longer a threat, but the extremists don’t care. They will give no quarter. Remember that.

5. There was a getaway plan. A stolen Citroen, which has been found abandoned, several hours after the attack. Obviously there was a plan in place, perhaps a safe house to lay low for a couple days until the gunmen can be moved out of the area.

6. Shooting positions are terrible. When you watch the video from which I took the screen shot above, which can be found on LiveLeak (warning, this is the graphic version), you’ll find that our shooter’s firing positions aren’t very solid. When shooting the police officer from a rang of about 50 feet, our shooter leans back and lets the recoil of the weapon largely affect his firing. A properly trained shooter, police or military, would have a more aggressive stance. Additionally, the second shooter carries his weapon across his body in a position that is adopted when one carries a weapon throughout the day for months on end. Yep, these guys are ISIS fighters, for sure. I bet they have prior combat experience in Iraq and Syria, and were chosen not for their brutality, but for their efficiency.

7. One of the shooters picks up a shoe before leaving in the stolen Citroen. This goes back to the getaway plan. Check out the photo below:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.06.30 AM
Paris Terror Attack Shooter picks up shoe before fleeing scene.


Notice that the shooter has two shoes on already. I think this is part of the escape plan. We don’t see the third shooter in this photo, the command and control guy, but we can see, in the video, the driver yelling at someone further down the road. Perhaps there’s a second vehicle, a chase car for the getaway vehicle. At any rate, it’s clear that once in the vehicle, our shooters were changing clothes, obviously ditching their garments that were used in the attack, probably burned or destroyed in some way.

OK, PernDog, what can I do to hard target?

1. Arm yourself. This is number one for a reason. Arm yourself and train on your weapon, hard. Sign up for basic and advanced pistol classes, CQB, marksmanship. Refuse to become a victim. Get a concealed carry and practice drawing your weapon from concealment until you can’t mess it up. This is number one for a reason, if you are anti-gun and refuse to arm yourself, then just accept that you refuse to own control of your life.

2. Purify your online presence. Cleanse your social media of phone numbers, emails, addresses, geolocation tags, foursquare, any app that you “check-in” places and don’t add new friends, especially if they are women you haven’t met in real life. Make yourself hard to find.

3. Vary your routes to and from work, the grocery store, the gym. Be unpredictable. Leave early, leave a little late. Carry your weapon. Although the Paris terror attacks were conducted at a place of employment, had there been escape plans in place or a response to an attack, there might’ve been less casualties. Always have a plan.

4. If something happens, respond according to the situation. I can’t count the number of times people have asked me what I would do in an active shooter situation. Always the tough guys, too, saying how they’d put a guy in a chokehold or take his weapon and shoot him. I’ve had this question come up multiple times and my response is always, “it depends.” Am I armed? Is there cover or concealment nearby? Is there an escape route that I can cover while getting the unarmed people to safety? What are the shooters armed with? Do they have body armor? how many shooters are there? Do they have training and experience? Is anyone else armed? Is there a chance police are going to show up and think I’m the shooter?

When you’re in a stress situation like that, all the macho planning you made at the bar that one night goes out the window, and if you have training, you’re going to default to that. If you don’t have any training, panic is going to set in, and it will affect all of your fine motor control and judgment. As a civilian, my official advice is to get down, get safe, and help others to safety. Don’t try anything heroic, especially if you played Call of Duty instead of answering the call of duty. This ain’t the movies and you can get killed.

Stay Frosty, Stay Alive.

Never let your guard down. Combat veterans have developed skills that run in the background: scanning for threats, for cover or concealment, for escape routes, noticing entry and exit points, avoiding choke points and turning their back to open areas. It helps to start cultivating some of these, but don’t stress out about it. Make it a part of your day instead of always worrying. Remember, terrorism lives and dies off of fear, so the less we fear, the less power they have. The Paris terror attacks were designed for just that: to inculcate fear in the population. Don’t let ’em scare ya.

There’s a reason ISIS executes journalists and civilians, and when they take on US troops, they get slaughtered. Get some, ODA.



  1. I’m a former U.S. Marine now a middleschool teacher in the USA. Schools here are soft targets and the emergency plans are absurd. All you can do is hide at best. I propose that teachers be armed and trained like in Israel. With the recent mass killing of children in Pakistan (150 dead), our schools in the US would make excellent targets for mass murder. What do you think?

  2. Excellent article. Sadly, most people live life in Condition White. You recommended being armed and trained, right at the top, where it should be. I would like to add educated to that as well. Knowing what to look for, is important, if you are going to react to it fast enough to make a difference, whether its fight or flight. For training, Gunsite is a my personal choice. Their 250 Basic is anything but “basic”. They teach a color code system for alertness and response. The Marine Corps “appropriated” a lot of their doctrine for MCSF training, back in the 80s. It is outstanding training for anyone that CCWs.

    Back on the subject of education, and knowing what to look for, how to identify and assess threats. One of the best books I have ever read on the subject, is “Facing Violence”, by Rory Miller. Its full of fascinating insight about how the human mind processes violence and responds. It delves into the psychology of attacker and target, discusses body language and the signs that tell you things are about to go sideways.

    On your assessment of the Paris Attack, I also looks like those guys were on a time line. They hit their target, did what they could do in a given time frame, then disengaged and ex-filtrated. I suspect they knew what to expect for normal daily police presence, and also knew how long it would take police to respond. They also stayed on mission. They shot the cop, but they didn’t start spraying into windows or at pedestrians or onlookers, judging by the video that I have seen. That again points to a higher level of discipline than I would attribute your average raw recruit.

    Just my 2 cents from an old Grunt. Again, great article and analysis.



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