I recently wrote a book called Terrorist Takedown, the idea was to explore if an armed citizen is able to interfere and kill a terrorist before his deeds become mass murder (note, not “work place violence” as some tried to explain from Mr Obama’s White House). It was not an easy book to write, as a former policeman, I have a very dim view of members of the public trying to do our job. My first thought was… are you insane? Rather run away and be safe. But then I realised, the face of terrorism has changed. Where the old brand of terrorism was to terrorize by taking hostages, and then enable long negotiations with the publicity that comes from that, it is now more often simply murder sprees. To prevent Special Forces, be they a Police or Army Unit, from ending it violently, as they will if given half a chance, the terrorist now has no intention to take hostages. In recent years his tactic became murder at sight, he kills anyone that cannot answer his questions on the Holy Koran. This was first seen in the Kenya Mall Attack where questions were asked, the wrong answer led to death – it happened at other attacks too so don’t even try to deny it. Thus, the need to either run or to intervene, before the Police arrive, became a reality.
We looked at the techniques used by the current terrorists and studied their modus operandi in the said book. We also looked at responses from the security forces by which I include the Sheriff Departments – the conclusion was not favourable at all and you can read the book why I say so and I stand by what I said. I quoted extensively from the GMJ Books, simply because I consider them well researched, to the point and not political correct nonsense. I also know the author well and have trust in his judgment, based on many years of experience. His book Code Name Wrangler is reckoned to be the best book on hostage rescues ever written by me, but I would like to quote you from Code Name Casselberry here, as I did in Terrorist Takedown: -
… “We are experts in the killing business, Geelslang and I, we can see what others may not see when we look at a man or a woman. This one was trained beyond what was normal. She used the “double tap” method of shooting which to us reads like a story book – it was first used by the British Special Air Service in the 1970s when they became interested in counter terrorism, hostage rescues. They realised that a 9 mm Parabellum round is crap, it does not kill fast enough in standard form and adjusted by adding Special Forces ammunition (nice hollow points) and shooting two rounds so fast it sounds like one shot. We did the same, even on our assault rifles and to me, it is the mark of a professional. Full automatic fire is to me the mark of ill-discipline and of run of the mill soldiers not worthy of Special Forces where you often carry the ammunition to and from the target without guaranteed resupply. During Vietnam, at one stage, it took 150,000 rounds to obtain one kill. We never used more than 20 rounds and a body without a rifle meant being arrested for murder. And that was the normal police, for us, in Police Special Forces, one bullet one hit meant exactly that and we expected death on the other side when we opened up. Except for covering fire and the first few crazy seconds of an ambush, full automatic fire was a luxury we could not afford and looked down upon.” (There are actually reports of 250,000 rounds being fired for one kill, that is not good enough and not what is expected in counter terrorism. Remember, the shooting takes place in crowded places, like a movie theatre, mall, etc. and we want aimed shots. Full automatic has no place in this scenario, not even short bursts. Always remember, you have the bullets on you, no resupply.)
Sadly, I have yet to meet a single member of the US SWAT or Special Forces even knowing what the “double tap” method is, that is extremely scary to me and should be to you. Now let me quote further from Code Name Casselberry: -
“He hurriedly produced a M9 pistol, what we call a Z88 and some the Beretta 92 F or FS. It is not a great pistol in my eyes, the butt is too thick to fit properly in my hands and I assure you, I am not the only one complaining about that aspect. Back in 1985 when it replaced the US Colt 45 after decades of good service, it was Gucci with its rear tritium sights and 15-shot magazine capability. Now it is old-fashioned with its lack of Picatinny rails to fit optional extras like a flash light or laser dot sight. We do not consider the US Military’s initial requirement for the M9 of a 10-shot group of three inches or less at 55 yards as accurate enough. That sucks, you should get a grouping of less than an inch for the entire 15 shots or I would want to know why. At closer range, more real-world, say fifteen yards and closer as in a confined room, aircraft etc. to rescue hostages, I expect a quarter inch grouping anywhere I point on the target and shot with the double tap method, not single shots. This must be done lightning quick (the two shots sound like one) and in any condition, rain, darkness, with and without night vision goggles, wearing your gasmask, whatever. I may even make you run a few miles, carrying your buddy, to see if that affects your aim or keep you awake for a few days until you hallucinate. It is just training to get to my standards you know and I had great ways of doing so. I would point with a laser beam to the target hidden behind a hostage and expect the lad to shoot on the laser dot. To make it harder, the laser moved, every two seconds, then on the chest, then on the head, then on the leg and so forth. Makes no difference, I expect the double tap to be in the quarter inch grouping wherever the laser is shining. Anyone can get to this level if trained enough and taught not to flinch, shoot with both eyes open and both hands holding the pistol, no one hand shooting, my word, you are showing off and we know what to do with show-offs.
Of course, you can shoot one handed in emergencies but only emergencies because it is generally inaccurate no matter who says what. Since we originally came from the Police we had shooting tricks with our service pistols the Army lads were grateful to learn and copy (we had vastly better pistols and ammunition also). We knew from bitter experience that a criminal may stab us with a knife, unexpectedly, and then your hand may not work and so we developed methods to cock the pistol if not done already. We knew cocking techniques unheard of in Army training establishments, using our web belts or the heel of our boot or against our forearm if not too bloody from the knife or bottle attack (blood will cause a stoppage). So you learn. In my world, second chances are a great luxury and a reason to better yourself.”
Now from Terrorist Takedown: - I often use a laser dot like this – to ensure you switch aim and to make it harder, the dot moves higher, lower, and further away, if not closer. The reason for this is that the terrorist seldom waits for you, standing still like a target most train on (I saw training movies on US SWAT which made me cry, they are that unprepared for real life confrontations I feel sorry for them, behind the bravado lays nothing to back them up). Most, 90%, of all defensive shootings in the US occur at 7 yards of less and of those, 50% are at 3 yards or less. There is no real need to train at longer distance and is only done for confidence reasons and “if needed” but in real life, most civilian shootings are very close range. Even during our COIN days, we noticed that the average combat range was between 30 and 50 yards, in counter terrorism it was closer, you cornered the bastard in a room, or cockpit and do what needs to be done.
What works well, we trained on it for many hours and it is fun, is what is known as a “bush lane” where you walk down a road / dry river bed, and shoot at fleeting targets in the double tap, both eyes open, with an instructor behind you. If you missed the target, it is fleeting, my word you concentrate hard, you redo the exercise. This really works for taking snap shots which may very well be all you may get at a moving target – and we did so with assault rifles and pistols, makes no difference and so should you. It is not the same as combat shooting but there are similarities.
You need to adapt and let us look in history for answers. Just after the Second World War, a book was published which became the manual for the recreated British Special Air Service during the Malayan Crisis (with Rhodesian help). It is called “The Jungle is Neutral” and is a book written by Spencer Chapman, a man who fought behind enemy lines against the Japanese during World War Two. He did not achieve much except to show it could be done and that was probably his most important legacy, ending the war as a lieutenant colonel and awarded the coveted DSO on top of his Polar Medal. Chapman was one of those schoolmasters which only Pommies can produce, a decent education at Cambridge University and a sense of adventure second to none, from mountain climbing to polar expeditions to Special Forces in the War. His other claim to fame is that he once taught Prince Philip, later to be married to the current Parasite and still around. Essentially, Colonel Chapman said that the theatre you operate in is the same for the enemy, the bastards too have to adapt and hence it is neutral, you can abuse it to suit you. We wholeheartedly included the concept of being able to work in the African bush better than anyone else, based on his philosophies. It was not that simple as it sounds though. Not everyone grew up on a farm in Africa, most had to learn the skills which means anyone can learn it with enough training.
The bush, as any other environment, stays neutral, you are the one which needs to adapt. Right, now we can do the same. If the bastard is known to strike at popular events (Boston Marathon etc.), in movie theatres, at malls, you should be able to recreate that training as much as Special Forces practise on trains, aircraft and buildings. You get my meaning I am sure; you must be able to abuse the surroundings to your own benefit; the surroundings themselves are neutral in this fight. The terrorist does not expect a counter attack from a civilian, he knows the police will respond at some stage in the future, and this is what will kill him in his tracks. Note again, I am not saying taking over police duties, this is a very special scenario where the police are not there or dead already. Now let us see what George M James further said about the M9 because you will have a similar weapon to fight the evil: -
“The other complaints about the M9, from returning US troops (Iraq & Afghanistan) are more serious since the lack of training is not at fault. Firstly, they said the magazines gave them trouble, not feeding properly. Turns out Beretta never manufactured the magazines for their own pistol. Weirdly and damn suspiciously if you ask me, the contract went to another company, not Beretta, and they failed to create proper magazines according to available reports. Almost two million new magazines then had to be remanufactured and distributed. It is entirely weird, only US Military M9s suffered from those defective magazines, no other nations did.”
From Terrorist Takedown: - I heard of a terrible story here, of a soldier serving in Iraq and writing to his brother, a police officer, about the M9 magazine problem. His brother sent him some new magazines marked as “law enforcement only” and, of course, the two of them came very close to going to federal prison over that. Only a loud and vigorous public outcry caused common sense to return. I often say, and I speak as a legal expert, that laws taken to absurd lengths are plain stupid. Back during the Second World War, a miner had an intense dislike in his boss, and so he decided to blow the mine with dynamite as revenge. He was arrested as a spy, a saboteur and almost got the death penalty. Yet, he had no such motive and on appeal the silliness was rectified. But it shows us how careful you need to be, your enemy, called the “over anxious delusional people” by me, will never hesitate to make life hard for you, keep to the law and you will be safe.
The other lesson is that magazines (clips) must be kept clean and working perfectly. Also, when you use add-ons, extra magazines, longer magazines, or whatever you do to your firearm in “accessorising” you need to be sure of the quality of work being done. I always say, keep it simple (you know the rest) and use the British Army’s 6Ps adage (proper planning prevents piss poor performance) at all times. I am frankly astonished how many shooters “accessorize” without practical need and without even knowing why. They cannot tell me why, a sure indication of a lack of knowledge from the salesman. I get the idea then that they have too much money and are weak headed, a salesman can sell them any stuff to look cool. This is stupid, keep it practical and test yourself and your weapons to the highest standards possible. Okay, what else is George M James on about when it comes to the M9 and the calibre, 9 mm Parabellum:
“The second complaint was that the 9 mm Parabellum round did not have the desired killing power and this is a serious problem due to using standard full metal jacket ammunition and not decent hollow jackets or expanding bullets as the liberals call them. They cannot legally change the ammunition. Sadly, the US Military and most others, are bound to the Genève Code. Therefore, the soldiers cannot use proper ammunition, they use standard ball as issued and this round does indeed have a rather poor first shot kill ratio (the M4 round also). And I can tell you, I spoke to many US veterans, they have never heard of the double tap solution in use since 1974 by Special Forces worldwide, it is pathetic that they are not trained in it.
There are only three ways to get away from these problems with the M9. Better ammunition is the obvious answer but forbidden, regretfully so. In the police and Special Forces, we pissed on the Genève Convention and used what worked best to kill humans, we simply shot them with hollow points until quite dead. Then, secondly, the best advice stays the double tap and decent aiming at the head to avoid suicide jackets and chest armour. There is no such thing as “rock & roll” firing where I am in command. Unless you are giving suppressing fire for an extremely short time period, I expect every bullet to kill one bastard and so it is, my way or the highway back to your unit, I don’t want you. Thirdly, get a heavier calibre able to kill a doped up Philistine easier, the Bren Ten (10 mm calibre) may be the revolution you are waiting for since 1986 or so I believed for a long time until the revolutionary FN 5.7 mm calibre (trademarked as the “Five-seveN”) arrived in body armour piercing, hollow point, and full metal jacket variants. It is simply brilliant.
Having seen hundreds if not thousands of dead and treated many more, we know ballistics and trauma. I read the other day that the FBI’s Training Division made a statement that the 9 mm Parabellum round stays the best option for law enforcement handguns and home defence. Fair enough, but I have to wonder, how many serious shootouts involve the FBI? Very little actually, a minuscule percentage. I actually met numerous FBI members, even US Secret Service lads, who have yet to fire a shot in anger and that is after twenty years of good service. I don’t consider their opinion to be worth much more that what Mr Eastwood once said every man has on his rear end to create liberals with.
In my considerable experience, the heavier calibre, the better for home defence, especially for those who are not crack shots and on the range every day. They need every bit of help they can get when confronted by a criminal, terrorist, or liberal and there is nothing better than .45 hollow point slug at close range. And then, I wonder why the celebrated FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is using a specially made Heckler & Koch MP5/10s since 1990? Yes, using the larger 10 mm calibre? I have to suspect that their sweeping statement has more to do with political correctness in ensuring the Sheriff Departments do not kill more suspects as they will, given a better calibre. They further said, in this very same report, and I quote “There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9 mm Luger through the .45 Auto.” Yep, the second biggest load of (I scratched Foxtrot’s description out, Angelique).
I have to wonder, again, what the hell they really know if they cannot even differentiate between the damage done by a .45 and a 9 mm Parabellum (the other name for a 9 mm Luger)? And at the risk of getting nasty letters from my readers, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team is not rated highly in my world. They are seen as fat, over-the-hill and not Special Forces rated. They are far below US Navy SEAL Team Six in standards, far below Delta Detachment, far below any of the British Special Air Service Regiments (they are in New Zealand, Australia and Canada – under another name), as well as us. They will not be able to cope with heavily armed and trained terrorists. The same can be said of all of the copious US Sheriff Departments “SWAT” teams, they are not good enough, not Special Forces rated and God help them if confronted with a Paris 2015 style of attack instead of a drug dealer armed with a hand gun. Almost everything they do is wrong, directed at criminal take downs and not terrorism. Their approach to the problem is plainly ridiculous and will bite them in the ass one day. They are overused also, when the concept started, SWAT was deployed on average, 54 times a year in the US. Today, more than that every single day, doing what a normal police member should be able to do if trained better and eating less doughnuts. You do not need SWAT to arrest a drug dealer, really not.”
From Terrorist Takedown: - It is harsh words and some complained, missing the point entirely, but I stand by what I write or quote in my books. The GMJ Books are seen as controversial by a few because they are not politically correct and very direct, there are also many people that take offence rather easily. But you know, I would rather want my faults pointed out to help me rectify them than have a “yes-man” around leading me astray. What we learned here is that we need to increase our killing power to be more effective. If you have a large rifle calibre weapon, and you shoot the bastard in the head, he will be dead, no problem, there is no such thing as someone surviving that type of wound. But as we agreed, we will probably have a pistol in the 9 mm Parabellum range or a .45 which is also good, the conclusion is damn the Geneva Convention and use what works best, you have that right, so use it.
To increase the odds with a first shot kill, we are using hollow points which will not jam. I do not wish to recommend a brand, I am not being paid by anyone to do so, but I have used Blazers for two decades without any stoppages. I remember one day, and this may be gruesome, but I walked back from my dad’s sheep kraal (pen, where you keep the animals overnight). I was still a student, helping my dad out on his small holding, and having recently resigned from the police force, armed with my private CZ83, loaded with Blazer hollow points in the .380 ACP calibre. I saw a rat, about as big as a small cat, and shot it – the rats were attacking the chickens, long story, it deserved to die. As is often the case when shooting, to you, the shooter, everything goes into slow motion (Awareness) and as the bullet slammed into the rat it expanded as the hydra effect took over. I will not say the rat doubled in size but it looked like it, the effect was instant death and I know from my police days, the same happens when you shoot a human being. So it is very possible, with the correct bullets, to create substantially higher damage than you would expect from normal military rounds and this is what we want to do. Always use the correct bullets designed to kill and not to over penetrate.
Now in my police days we loaded our magazines according to need. You would have magazines to shoot vehicles, fleeing ones, or magazines loaded to shoot humans or both loads in one magazine, depending what you walk into. In our assault rifles, we had tracers, no fancy aiming devices then, only the standard iron sights, at times coated with tritium to glow at night (useless after the first shot). Get such tritium sights to whatever you have; your dot sight may fail at the worst possible time. Always count your shots (remember Awareness?) and if possible, load the last four rounds with tracer, so you know. Really, I always want to know how many shots were fired at any given time and how many you have left. There is nothing more irritating than Hollywood firing several hundred rounds from one 15 shot magazine or clip as it is also called. I am known to walk out of a movie when that happens, such scenes take away all reality for me. You have to count automatically.
Then, when you shoot, use the double tap only. How it works is as GMJ described for us. It is instinctive shooting with both eyes open, Weaver stance, both hands on your pistol and then you fire two shots so fast they sound like one. This is where a good compensator attached to the barrel is valuable or go for a smaller calibre you can handle without too much recoil (another great aspect of the .380 ACP). Keep the barrel down, the two bullets have to strike within an inch (I expect a lot better than that, this is as far apart as can be tolerated) of each other and then you keep on doing that until the target is neutralised by which I mean dead.
We can carry on like the above for hundreds of pages, the books are there to read if you wish to educate yourself. I saw it in my hostage survival briefings, that the lack of knowledge is astonishing. I wrote the book which is available at Amazon or with me, if you cannot afford it, send me an email and I will give you a PDF copy if deserving my assistance. The answer though is to get away as quickly as possible from an attack, to obey the police commands, not to break the law and to interfere only if in dire straits and yes, there is such an example in history – the Iranian Embassy Siege in London – I talk about that incident in the hostage survival briefing. Be safe.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in hostage survival training and reducing legal risk in Sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters. Koos is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.