Anti-Terrorism Public Awareness Education

Terrorism is a real threat in Kenya and the world at large. In light of the nature of the national incidents, particular awareness and preparedness is essential to guard against incidents involving bomb threats, suspicious persons and devices,which could be exploives, 

Members of public should be made aware when, where and whom to report suspicious characters and objects they suspect to be involved with terrorism or any threat to security.  We should all encourage and educate residential lodges employees to recognize, report, and react to suspicious and crisis situations that occur on hotels and other lodging properties. 

The terrorists who massacred 148 people at Garissa University College, almost all of them students,has stayed in a local hotel where the owners and workers could have revealed them if they had been made alert of their Public Security responsibility.

We must also encourage community organisations (residents organisations including the Kenya National Residents Association KARA), to develop, refine, and/or review their policies and procedures related to public security threat assessment and threat management.Involving local leaders in Nyumba Kumi implementation Community and elected leaders must  all be involved in security issues in a bipartisan manner.

·         Many community leaders and elected officials are afraid to talk about, and prepare for, terrorist attacks out of concern that it will create fear among residents and the broader community. 

·         It is important to end fears on terrorism issues.  

·         Fear is best managed through education, communication and preparation. 

·         By not addressing terrorism issues, we actually create more fear and panic among the publics. 

·         The key rests in context, balance and reasonable efforts. 

·         Discussions with the publics must be driven by appropriate education and awareness products. 

Kenya citizens of all religions, political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds united to condemn Westgate terrorist attack which claimed 67 lives in Nairobi

How can members of public be involved in anti-terrorism awareness?  

Involving members of public in anti-terrorism awareness is critical if Kenya Government intends to stem the mounting tide of terrorism. The importance of educating the general public in matters of security awareness, anti-terrorism security measures and consequence of laxity cannot be over-emphasized. As insecurity escalates, involving members of public in crime prevention and anti-terrorism awareness in no longer an option but a MUST.

Information Sharing:

With the increased terrorism attacks locally and globally, it is paramount that the public is made fully aware of how to guard against such attacks and develop ways of anti-terrorism information sharing relationships within their neighbourhoods and with security agencies.

Encourage Public-Security Personnel Collaboration:

Build linkages focusing on situational awareness of national events and ongoing threats, awareness of the location of the closest police stations, hospitals, schools, etc.   

Media collaboration/Training:

Engage the National and regional media houses in Anti-Terrorism, reporting and publicity.

Build Community Participation:

Encourage community/residents organisations, leaders and politicians to develop, refine, and/or review with security staff their policies and procedures related to public security, threat assessment and threat management.   

Establish Public Telephony/online Reporting (iSAW):

Document reports by members of the public on suspect and suspicious persons, objects and activities that may relate to potential terrorism attack or threaten public safety. Such reports will be made via mobile phones or computers.   

Most effective way of dealing with terrorism: The most effective way of dealing with terrorism include effective surveillance, alertness, being observant and sharing information on suspect persons, unusual behavior by persons and reporting such behavior or suspicious objects to authorities for prompt investigation.

What happens in the event of a terrorism threat?  

Terrorism threat awareness. It is important that security agents inform the general public about terrorism threats when they arise for the public to understand actions taken to deal with situations at hand.

Levels of terrorism threats

Universally there are four (4) levels of dealing with terrorism threats and attendant actions as illustrated below. 

Illustrations –Courtesy US Marine Corps

How can PSV operators and passengers guard against terrorism attacks?

If you operate or travel by public means there are certain precautions that need to be taken. 

Here are some of the rules City, State, and County authorities should introduce as part of Anti-terrorism Public Education to keep the PSV travelling public safe. 

The PSV sector stakeholders must also play their part to ensure passenger safety.

December 2012, terrorist attack in Eastleigh, Nairobi Prevention is better than cure

·         One of the easiest ways to avoid planned terrorist attack disaster is for Public Transport Operators to routinely conduct a thorough inspection of their vehicle at the beginning and end of each trip. That might be tedious but it can save lives. This should include checking floors, seats, under seats, and any interior bins or compartments.  The lights, air ducts and speakers should be checked to make sure they have not been tampered with.  The exterior of the vehicle, including the engine, should be checked for signs of tampering or any foreign object attached to the frame.  In addition, vehicles should be checked, during routine maintenance, for explosives that may be attached to the body. 

·         Threat: Suspicious Packages or Substances

If you find any unattended packages, or a passenger hurriedly disembarks leaving his/her suspect luggage behind, immediately report it to the authorized PSV personnel, such as the driver or conductor. Don’t attempt to pick it up, toss it over or throw it away. Passengers should evacuate in an orderly manner.

·         Any suspicious package or substances should be carefully examined to determine if it is dangerous:

                Is there an unexplained odour/smell? 

                Could it be inhaled? 

                Is there any residue/powder? 

                Are there any wires or batteries visible? This may indicate an explosive is attached. 

                Is there a message attached to the item? This could be a warning.

                Are people in the area showing any signs of illness or distress? This could mean chemical poisoning.

                Did you see anyone near the item or leaving the scene? That could be the perpetrator. 

                Do authorities know if there is a known specific threat in the area? Check if any report has been made.

·         Response If any of these conditions are present, step away and keep safe distance from the object or potentially contaminated area.  

                1.The driver or conductor should find a safe location to pull over or stop the vehicle.

                2.Once the vehicle is safely stopped, evacuate but remain calm and await further instructions.

                3.If the operator feels the danger is life-threatening, you should immediately evacuate the vehicle. 

                4.Be sure to take all your possessions with you. 

                5.Get to a safe location at least 100 metres away from the vehicle. Sit or lie down. Don’t stand up.

                6.The transit operator should call for help immediately. 

                7.Stay in the area until security officials tell you it's okay to leave. 

                8.They may want to collect your name and phone number as part of their investigation.


How to Survive a School or Workplace Shooting

Compiled by Blamuel Njururi 

The Garissa University College attack in which 148 people lost their lives, over 145 of them being students, brought into sharp focus the need for basic Public Anti-terrorism Preparedness Education that can Save Lives.

All terrorist attacks in Kenya at US Embassy, Westgate, Mpeketoni, Mandera or Garissa, or bus explosions, have demonstrated great lack of public awareness on how to respond prior,during and after such attacks. Members of public do not know who to call for help or report to, what to do to save their lives and how to respond to help when it arrives.

Here below are five gun attack survival methods that can be useful when attacked at place of work or in learning institutions.

Five Basic Survival Methods:

Running Away Hiding and Barricading Yourself Attacking the Shooter Preventing or Preparing for a School or Workplace Shooting When Emergency Services Arrive

Though your first thought about a school or workplace shooting may be, "That would never happen here," the reality of the matter is that a shooting can happen anywhere at any time. And if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in the same place as a shooter, whether you're at school or in a workplace, it's best to be prepared.

If you can run away reasonably safely, that should always be your first move. If not, you need to hide and barricade yourself. And if you come face to face with a shooter, then you will need to fight for your life. If you want to know how to survive a school or workplace shooting, follow these steps.

Method 1: Running Away

1. Decide if you should run, hide, or fight.

If you are able to run away from the shooter in a reasonable amount of time, then it's time to start running as fast as you can.

Though you may freeze and be too scared to do anything, remind yourself that runners have the highest survival rate in a shooting.

If you can't run away because the shooter is too close or because you're responsible for a group of small children, for example, then you should decide whether you have enough time to barricade yourself in a room before you hide.

    • If you don't have time to barricade yourself, then worry about hiding.
    • If the shooter attacks you, you'll have to fight him -- this will be your only chance at survival. Read below to find out how.

2. Run away if you can.

If you hear shots in the distance but feel that you can run or escape reasonably safely, then it should be time to plan your escape path. Though you may freeze when you hear the sound of bullets, you need to be able to react immediately and see if running is your best option.

Runners have a higher success rate in shootings than people who hide, so if you feel that the shooter is far enough away for you to make a run for it, then now is your chance.[1]

    • If the shooter is in close proximity to you, whether he's running up the hall or outside your door, then skip to the next section to look out for tactics for hiding.
    • Reacting immediately is crucial to this situation, whether you're running or hiding. Don't freeze up and delay your reaction. This may not give you enough time to run away even though that may be your best option. Freezing can force you to end up hiding, which may not be your best move.


3. Make yourself a difficult target to hit.

Run in a zig-zag pattern or crouch down as you run. Though your first instinct will be to run straight ahead, since you'll be running for your life, you should run in a zig-zag pattern to minimize your chances of being shot. If the shooter approaches at a distance and aims his gun at you, you'll be harder to shoot

if you're not running in a straight path that gives him enough time to aim his gun. You are also harder to hit if you are sideways instead of with your back facing him. You can also crouch down as you run so it's more difficult to shoot you.[2]

    • Run as fast as you can and try to run in a zig-zag pattern or crouch at the same time. But if this is slowing you down or disorienting you, just run forward.

4. Forget your belongings.

If you've determined that it's best to run, then forget your wallet, your purse, or your cell phone. Though your first instinct may be to take your possessions with you, none of them are as important as your life.

5. Take people with you.

As you're running, encourage others to run. If someone looks disoriented or too scared to move, grab that person and drag him with you.

Tell the people that running is crucial to your survival. If you're running in a bigger group, it'll be harder to target you individually, and you'll have strength in numbers if you do run up against the shooter.


6. Cover your tracks if you can.

If you have the time, grab a fire extinguisher and create a path of smoke behind you so the shooter will have a harder time pursuing you.

Keep the extinguisher and other sharp objects that can be used as weapons if you face the shooter. But don't waste time looking for weapons or ways to cover your tracks if it'll keep you from escaping.

Survival Method 2: Hiding and Barricading Yourself

1. Determine if you should hide and barricade yourself.

It should only take a few seconds to determine if your best course of action should be to run or to hide. If the shooter is rapidly approaching the room you're in, then you should prepare to hide as soon as possible.

If you have more time, but not enough time to run, then you should barricade yourself and call the authorities before you hide.

If you need to hide and have time to barricade yourself and there are multiple people in the room, you should delegate tasks:

    • One person or group of people should lock and barricade the door.
    • One person or group of people should call 999.
    • One person or group of people should grab all the weapons he can find.

2. Turn off the lights.

If the attack is at night  turn off the lights  immediately in the room where you are. This will disorient the shooter and make it look less likely that there are people in the room where you are.

3. Lock and barricade the door.

Lock the door immediately and do anything you can to make it more difficult for the shooter to enter. Remember that most shooters only have a few minutes before the police show up, and they're not interested in taking the path of most resistance.

Lock the door, place a doorstop on it, and place all heavy furniture like desks and chairs in front of the door immediately to deter the shooter. If the shooter is approaching, get away from the door as soon as you can to keep yourself from being shot through the door.

    • If you're in a bathroom that doesn't lock, use a belt or t-shirt to tie the metal latches on top of the door that allow it to open and close.
    • Once you've locked and barricaded the door, stay away from the door and all windows immediately.

4. Call 999.

If there's a landline in the room, pick it up and call 999 immediately.

Using a landline instead of your cell phone is the best move because the police will automatically be able to trace the call, which they would not be able to do if you called from your cell phone.

Put your mobile phone on silent mode to prevent it ringing loudly to betray you.

5. Grab any weapons you can find.

Look around the room where you're hiding and find anything that you can use as a weapon.

It can be a stapler or sharp scissors you find in the teacher's desk, the hot coffee in the kitchen of your office, beakers or dangerous acids (such as sulphuric) in a science room, or anything that is sharp, heavy, made of glass, or which can be used as a weapon. Hold on to these weapons in the event that the shooter enters the room where you are.


6. Hide yourself.

Once you've grabbed your weapons, it's time to hide under desks, chairs, in closets, or in any hiding places that are convenient.

No matter where you hide, you should stay low to the ground to make yourself less of a target. If you have time, turn off your cell phone so the sound won't encourage the shooter to approach you.

7. Try to stay calm.

Though this may seem nearly impossible, it's crucial that you stay absolutely silent. Tell people that whimpering or crying will only make the shooter more likely to find you.

Prepare yourself mentally in the event that the shooter comes into the room and finds you. In that case, you'll have no choice but to fight.

8. Consider playing dead if you can't hide yourself.

This only works if shots have been fired and you're already in a room or place when people have been shot and have no place to hide.

Then, if the shooter approaches your location, you can take a risk and play dead, hoping that he'll think that you're among the dead and will pass you by.

However, this is a risky move because he may not believe you're dead, and you may be too nervous to stay completely still. But try.

Remember some students at Garissa University College survived the Al Shabaab massacre because they feigning their death.


Once you've hid and barricaded yourself, all you can do is wait for the police to arrive and save you, or wait for the shooter to approach, in which case you'll have to hide.

When the police arrive do not run to them or request help, as this may cause them to think you are a threat.

Do exactly what the officers tell you to do, do it quickly, and do it without argument or protest. Be as helpful as possible to the authorities.

Tell them everything you know.


10 Remember that attacking the shooter is your final option.

You shouldn't jump out of your hiding place and attack the shooter if he's approaching.

You should only fight him if you're sure that you'll be shot if you do nothing.

Survival Method 3: Attacking the Shooter

1. Do not try to reason with the shooter or plead for your life.

Trying to engage with the shooter, ask him what he's doing, or to plead for your life by talking about your family has not been proven effective in dealing with shooters.

The shooter will be on a rampage and will be beyond hearing the voice of reason, so don't waste your time by trying to talk to him -- you're much better off fighting.

2.  If there are multiple people in the room, ambush the shooter.

If there are multiple people in the room and he can see all of you, then you should all try to attack him at once, hurting him, throwing objects, and doing everything you can to render him powerless.

You may not want to fight the shooter if you see that someone else is doing it, but strength in numbers will make it more likely that you'll survive.

3. Attack the shooter with any weapon you can.

Use your sharp scissors, glass, or any other sharp or heavy objects to attack the shooter immediately.

Even a sharp ballpoint pen or pencil could be the perfect weapon for gouging out the shooter's eyes.

You're fighting for your life and every second counts. Don't hesitate just because he has a gun and you don't.

Aim high.

Try to hurt the shooter in the face, eyes, shoulders, or neck, or arms, so that he's more likely to let go of his weapon.

You should stab him in the neck, gouge out his eyes, or stab him in the arm - doing anything you can to make him get rid of that weapon or to hurt him so the weapon is within your reach.

    • Kick him in the crotch.
    • If you can't go for his face or weapon, kick him in the crotch. This will be an effective way to disarm him and to cause him a large amount of pain.

5. Don't think about being shot.

Focus on fighting for your life, knowing that most people who are shot by a gun actually survive.

Stay strong and fight for your life with everything you've got instead of worrying about the worst-case scenario.

This may sound nearly impossible, but this is the best thing you can do if you want to survive the shooting.

Method 4: Preventing or Preparing for a School or Workplace Shooting

1. Report any suspicious activity.

Keep alert and always report suspicious incidents to the authorities. If a student or co-worker talks about killing people or threatens to bring a knife or a gun to school, report this to a teacher or law enforcement.

You may prevent a disaster by doing so.

Many shooters often announce their plans ahead of schedule as a way of showing off; do not take their behavior lightly or as a joke and report it immediately.

2. Be aware of your school or workplace's lockdown procedure.

Every school and office has some kind of lockdown procedure that stipulates how doors should be locked, where people should hide, and how the authorities should be called.

To be prepared for shooting attack, be familiar with your workplace's standard procedure when it comes to shootings.

Unfortunately, it may be difficult to follow protocol exactly in the event of a shooting, but knowing what it is can help you react in the most helpful way possible.

3. Be prepared for a shooting.

Though you should not bring a weapon to school or to the workplace just in case there is a shooting, if you'd really like to be prepared, you should take self-defense classes or other classes that teach you how to fight off an attacker in the event of an attack or shooting.

Knowing a few fighting tricks can help you feel more confident in the event that you have no choice but to attack a shooter.

Method 5: When Emergency Services Arrive

1. Wait for the police or emergency crew to assess the situation.

Do not reveal your position or run to the officers. This action may create confusion and the officers may open fire on you.

Patiently wait for the rescue crew to bring the situation under control.

    • If you are wounded wait for a paramedic or firefighter, so they can send you to the hospital.

2. Listen to police or military instructions.

When you're leaving the building a police officer or a solider will escort you to the exit.

Leave the area immediately if you are able.

(Illustrations and text –Courtesy WikiHow)

Important Tips

  • Do not attack your shooter if s/he says that s/he can see you. Unless they're looking directly at you, they're probably not telling the truth.
  • Seek therapy afterward, if the event was deeply troubling for you.
  • If you are in the same area as the shooter, find cover, fast. If the shooter opens fire, attempt to take cover behind heavy furniture or any other heavy obstacle. If there is nothing close, simply drop to the floor and lie flat. This will protect your vital organs and make you a smaller target to the shooter. Lying flat could also make the shooter mistake you for dead. Remain quiet and still.
  • If you can see the shooter(s), the shooter(s) can probably see you.
  • If you come face to face with the shooter, run away in a zigzag pattern. It will be hard for the shooter to accurately shoot a moving target.
  • Remain calm.


  • Don't let the fear of a shooting change your life. It is out of your control. Just live life to its fullest knowing what to do if a shooting ever did happen.
  • Don't take personal belongings or put yourself at risk to collect these items. Personal property can be replaced —- your life can't.

Parting Word