This article discusses some steps you can take to increase your chances of surviving
a terrorist hijacking.
There is a problem with people being “cowboys” who will to stand up
to anyone but there are always situations where this is not a good thing. When dealing
with terrorists who have successfully planned and executed an operation such as
taking over an airplane, there are certain ways to present yourself.
• Give terrorists long hard looks and stare at them.
• Argue with them about their goals, their beliefs or about what they are
doing. They just violated international law and are now fugitives from the world,
do you really think you are going to talk them into changing their mind?
• Attempt to talk first, by raising your hand or standing up. They do not
want to hear what you have to say and they truly don’t care. By continuing
your effort to make yourself a player in some way in this drama you are just making
yourself more of a target.
• Make obscene gestures. Trust me, they know what they mean and they are
watching everyone or trying to so thinking you are sneaky and can outsmart them
could get you made an example of.
If you are enough of a problem or instigator the terrorists could simply kill you
as an example to the others, or they could kill the person sitting next to you to
prove to you they can do it. Whenever you confront people in this situation, they
will have to do something to maintain fear and dominance over those they have in
their control. Don’t force them into this action by being stubborn and stupid,
because it is not only your life in danger.
Because of September 11th, and the flights involving the Pentagon and the World
Trade Center, you may need to take action while on board the aircraft. This is a
decision you make. No one can tell you what to do and when to do it. Remember that
if you decide to take action you could cause more harm than good, but ultimately
it is your decision to make based upon the circumstance of the situation taking
place and what you KNOW for fact before you act. Some things to consider are:
• Is a Federal Marshal on the aircraft? How many? If you know for
a fact they are there then stay out of it and let them do their job, but be ready
to assist. Do not rush forward volunteering; remember the Marshal DOES NOT KNOW
WHO you are or WHAT your intentions are when he is dealing with this threat.
• How heavily armed are the hijackers? What weapons do they have,
what do you see? Do they have handguns and explosives? If they have knives or other
weapons but no firearms and say they have a bomb, consider the security you just
went through to get on board. How good was it? Could they have gotten a device on
board? If so why couldn’t they get firearms also?
• How many hijackers are there and do they closely monitor activities of passengers
and air crew? Do they have enough people to watch all sections where there
are passengers and crew at all times? Are they continually walking back and forth
checking between passenger compartments? Are they forcing everyone into one area?
These could be signs that they don’t have enough people to watch everyone
• How are they conducting themselves? Do they look like they have
a plan? A chain of command? Set goals mean they are organized and probably have
training of some kind.
• Are pilots left in control of the plane? The cockpit of the aircraft
is lockable from the inside and cannot be breached. If the pilots are still in control
and flying they are going to put the plane on the ground as soon as possible and
let the authorities deal with it. If this is the case you should allow this to happen
as it increases your chance of survival and escape once on the ground. If the door
has been breached and the pilots and crew are no longer operating the aircraft,
then you need to consider the option of trying to stop what is taking place.
• What are the hijackers’ destination and other demands? Where
do they want to go? This will give you an insight into who they are. Is it a realistic
goal? More than likely with the pilots still in control of the aircraft (secure
cockpit) they will land at the nearest friendly airport, regardless of where the
skyjackers want to land.
• Are the hijackers demanding ID from passengers? This means the have
a specific agenda and are looking for people of certain nationalities, affiliations
or professions to target as their immediate victims. It could also mean they are
looking for one specific person and/or his family. Are they separating people by
nationality? Job? Sex? This could also give a clue as to what their agenda may be.
• Is someone in a position to resist the hijackers? Are there sky
marshals on board? Is the pilot armed? Are there other federal law enforcement or
undercover security on board that can and will resist the hijackers when it is called
• Are passengers able to place calls to people on the ground without
getting caught, either using cell phones or the plane’s phones? If so this
could be a large boost to authorities on the ground, negotiators, and rescue team
since information can be passed from sources besides the skyjackers themselves about
what is taking place (and possibly some photos or film), allowing authorities to
begin planning before the plane lands.
In the event of a hijacking remain calm and comply with the directions of the hijacker.
Do not get confrontational or argue; continuously evaluate the situation as it plays
out and react accordingly. One of the ways that will help you do this is to have
an EMERGENCY PLAN OF ACTION: As soon as you know for sure you are hijacked, take
the opportunity to assess all cover and concealment that is available around you,
in case shooting starts. Pay attention to and watch the emergency exits, especially
the ones closest to you. If you are on the ground, rescue attempts will start there
as they are the only way into the aircraft. Also, this is your fastest way out of
the plane, so have a plan to get to one, and know how to open it.
You need to develop EPA for all the different situations that can happen at altitude
and on the ground. One of your plans on the ground should be a plan to initiate
EPA of finding cover and getting off the airplane as quickly as possible if the
terrorists begin mass killings, or begin randomly firing into the passengers. NOTE:
attitudes and perceptions have changed drastically since 9-11 and for many people
it means the attitude of “not again” which makes them supper aggressive
and confrontational. Several military and law enforcement people I have trained
in the past have said “I am going to attack those F@@@ers anyway, screw’em”,
but in these types of situations this is a BAD idea. There have been several instances
of skyjackings after 9-11 that have ended with no casualties among either the skyjackers
or more importantly, the passengers. A gung ho, gonna kill ‘em all attitude
can not only get you killed but result in the death of everyone else on the plane.
REMEMBER THIS: IF THE PILOTS ARE FLYING THE PLANE AND THE COCKPIT HAS NOT BEEN BREACHED,
DO NOTHING. Anything you do or attempt to do will only escalate an already
dangerous situation. In this situation, the pilots will land at the first sign of
trouble at the nearest airport, then the professionals will handle it. By attacking
when there is no need you could cause the skyjackers to fire their weapons rupturing
the skin of the aircraft or killing other passengers, or they could intentionally
or unintentionally set off explosives. Do not forget about other security or law
enforcement personnel that may already be on the plane and have a plan of action.
Disrupting things, attacking the threat and causing them to react violently against
you or others could DISRUPT THE PLANS of those professionals who are trying to end
the situation. You need to continually evaluate the situation, know who is in charge
of flying the aircraft, and pay attention to what is taking place around you. ATTACKING
the skyjackers is an OPTION OF LAST RESORT, when the cockpit has been breached
and the air crew is no longer flying the plane but the terrorists are.
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