Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Yet another attack ...

I'm not giving any apology for going off piste somewhat in today's blog entry, but I am sure that my regular blog readers will understand and hopefully will not be offended by my coverage of yet another terrorist attack in Europe.

This is the third time in seven days that I have written a blog entry about a terrorist attack. This time the attack appears to have been made with a number of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and the target was the coach carrying the First Team of second largest football club in Germany – Borussia Dortmund – who were on their way to a Champions League match against AS Monaco at the Signal Iduna Park, their home ground. Luckily the only injury suffered seems to have been Marc Bartra's broken wrist, but it could have been a lot worse. The damage to the side of the team coach is extensive, and had it not been fitted with thick safety glass the shrapnel from the IEDs could easily have killed and maimed a large number of people.

This is not the first time that football has been singled out as a target. Back in November 2015 a suicide bomber attacked the Stade de France in Paris during the infamous bombings and mass shootings that resulted in the deaths of 130 people (three of them at the football ground). On that night France was playing a friendly international match against Germany. Whoever chose this target knew the impact that such an attack would have.

What is unusual about yesterday's attack is the use of IEDs, which is something that is very rare on the continent of Europe although not elsewhere. During the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland the IRA and other Nationalist terrorist groups used large numbers of such devices, and by the end of the 'Troubles' they were very sophisticated remote-controlled/detonated devices. (From 1970 to 2005 the IRA detonated over 19,000(!) IEDs ... which is one every seventeen minutes!)

If the IEDs used in yesterday's attack were as sophisticated as those used by the IRA, this is going to cause a considerable headache for the various security forces in Europe as countering them is a very difficult task.

So what has this to do with wargaming?

Over the years I have taken part in several so-called 'black' wargames, some of which dealt with terrorism. (A 'black' wargame is one that deals with the less pleasant aspects of warfare such as terrorism, the use of torture, genocide etc.) They are never nice to take part in, but 'black' wargames can be a very useful learning experience as they can help one to get inside the mind of people who commit such barbaric acts, and as a result one can become more capable of helping to devise ways and means to counter them.

18 comments:

  1. "'black' wargames can be a very useful learning experience as they can help one to get inside the mind of people who commit such barbaric acts" for the professionals I'd agree, but for likes of us gifted amateurs, hobby'ists and gamers, I would still question the taste... everyone's different of course....

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    1. Steve-the-Wargamer,

      The crossover between the 'professional' and 'amateur' sides of wargaming is actually quite significant, and a large number of the professionals I have met at things like Connections UK are also hobby wargamers.

      At Connections UK 2016 we discussed the possibility of involving hobby wargamers in professional wargames, both as red team players and as mentors to people who are new to the concepts involved.

      'Black' wargames are a difficult area, and I can see why quite a lot of hobby wargamers would regard them as bad taste ... but I have also seen hobby wargamers who have seen nothing wrong with fielding large numbers of SS troops on the tabletop.

      As you comment, everyone is different.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Interesting how quiet the reporting is on this.
    The alleged 'humiliation' of Boris is getting much bigger coverage in the right wing media circus.
    Interesting times.

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    1. Nobby,

      Very true. I've not seen a single news item in the media that has picked up my point about the use of IEDs ... and yet to me it is an indicator that there might be a problem on the horizon that the European counter-terrorist organisations may need to be ready to deal with.

      The rejection of Boris's initiative to impose sanctions on named people seems rather odd, especially as it is merely an extension of the sanctions that are already in place. The UK media seem to be portraying it as a slap in the face for British diplomacy, but in light of the way that same media has covered Brexit, their reaction is no great surprise.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. On the first, there seems to be suggestions that it was a remote controlled device - no suicide murderer (or attempted murder)
      On the second, the Eu showing solidarity against us and the remainer British press supporting it?
      Also, the first may well be a result of the attitudes displayed in the second if I have assessed them correctly.

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    3. Nobby,

      I should have made it clear in my original posting that I was making the point about the use of remote-controlled, roadside IEDs being something new to continental Europe. It smacks to me of a much more sophisticated and co-odinated approach on the part of the terrorists.

      The G7 includes non-EU participants (I think that the group is made up of United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) but seems to have been portrayed in the UK media as just being made up of EU countries. The fact that the recent meeting took place in Italy - and was thus chaired by the Italian Foreign Minister - merely reinforced the idea that the rejection was an EU-led plot.

      You may well be right about one factor influencing the other; my hope is that this current attack was a one-off ... but fear that it might not be.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Dealing with such a problem is primarily a political issue with security actions dealing with the results of the stupid mistakes of governments such as Merkel's which introduce the Trojan Horses in the first place.

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    1. James James,

      One of the problems of living in a parliamentary democracy is that we elect politicians to take decisions for us ... even if we don't like them. We then have to live with the consequences.

      It might not be a perfect system by any means ... but I think that it is better than the alternatives.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. I do not think that the results of 'representative democracy' are well understood by all the people who vote.
    It has encouraged an 'I know best what is right for you' from the elected and rare referendum events are are the electorates only chance to say no.
    Without that the only real pressure on the elected is from the press and that is only what suits their agenda.

    Nevertheless, interesting times

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    1. Nobby,

      I once took a politician to task when he made a comment about the need to return to what he termed 'true democracy'. For some reason he did not take kindly to me pointing out that the much-vaunted Greek democracy he was extolling depended upon the use of slaves (helots) to do the work whilst the masters debated what to do.

      I suppose that in some ways the current 'representative democracy' that we have is not that different. We get to vote every few years for those who represent us ... but the list we get to choose from is limited by the party system. Increasingly the people chosen to go on the list are professional politicians who have matured in the 'I know best' school of thinking, and fewer and fewer seem to have had a real job before becoming a politician.

      I'm not sure that the media was ever quite as good at putting pressure on the political system in the past as we might have thought it was ... but with more and more of it falling into the hands of fewer and fewer people (and I have one particular organisation in mind when I make this comment), I doubt that it will have much independent influence again. At least the 'I know best' politicians are elected; our media proprietors aren't.

      As you comment, interesting times.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Ntw, carry on and back to wargaming!
      I won a game of Pikeman's Lament last night :0)

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    3. Nobby,

      Quite right!

      I'm currently at my computer working on the draft of my next book. It's much more fun that thinking about the world's problems!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Bob,
    What I find worrying apart from the attack and its apparent attempt at sophistication,is the German authorities keenness not to identify it as an Islamic inspired attack, even though they have announced the arrest of an Islamic follower. By not recognising the origin of such murderous attacks all you are doing is undermining an authorities credibility.How can ordinary people help if even the security forces wont acknowledge the source of the attacks.In my former life, after the 7/7 murders we were forced to take down official posters asking the public to be aware of what to look for, ie islamic attackers, because they were felt to marginalise a section of our 'community. It looks like the German governemnt are still in this denial phase. Sadly.

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    1. I am suspicious of whether it is an Islamic attack: no dead jihadi and remote control firing. Not exactly the commitment to cause that islamic attacks have shown.
      It is more the style of an IRA-light style but only filled with pins as shrapnel, it seems.
      All very odd, but if it is non islamic I'd bet the media uproar will become deafening.

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    2. Robbie Rodiss,

      The messages coming out from the Germans are confusing. They seem to be saying that they are seeking someone who arrived in German from Islamic State last year ... and then that it might not be an IS-inspired attack.

      I suspect that this apparently schizophrenic attitude might be more to do with the forthcoming elections in Germany than anything else. Also the pressure not to offend a section of the community - in the manner that you mention in your comment - seems to have become ingrained in German society since the Second World War.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    3. Nobby,

      The attack does seem to have significant differences from previous IS-inspired terrorist acts in Europe, but unless it was staged by some home-grown, non-IS extremists, who else could have mounted it?

      No doubt we will find out in due course.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dortmund-attackers-wanted-to-incite-backlash-against-muslims-c6g69t788?#_=_

    military grade explosives and far right, allegedly

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    1. Nobby,

      I suppose that this news - if correct (and I have little doubt that it is) - is not that much of a surprise in the growing climate of hostility that seems to pervade at the moment.

      It only goes to prove that extremists come in many guises and with many different motivations.

      All the best,

      Bob

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