Sunday 26 March 2017

Defence forces to host 'lone wolf' anti-terror classes for NATO

A tourist grieves at the beach where 38 people – three of them Irish – died in a terror attack in Sousse, Tunisia in June
A tourist grieves at the beach where 38 people – three of them Irish – died in a terror attack in Sousse, Tunisia in June
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The Defence Forces have drawn up plans to deal with any lone-wolf attacks here and are preparing to share their strategy and tactics with other EU and NATO countries, it has been learned.

Following attacks such as those in Tunisia - in which three Irish citizens were among 38 tourists killed by a lone Isis gunman - and Bangkok, security sources say there is "major interest" in the Irish Army's ideas on how to tackle the issue.

The Defence Forces Ordnance Corps, which will run the lone-wolf response course in November, is held in high regard around the world because of its experience and ideas on counter-terrorism.

In the past, the United States and other NATO forces have sent technical officers to train with the Irish Ordnance Corps, whose experience dates from dealing with improvised explosive devices designed and built by the IRA and loyalists during the Troubles.

Sources say there is "very strong" interest among NATO countries in the face of what is seen as the looming threat from lone-wolf terrorists.

The Defence Forces have been working quietly on preparing plans since the lone-wolf attacks - known in military jargon as "marauding terrorist attacks" (MTAs) - began picking up pace across the world.

The Army has long considered MTAs the main threat from Islamist terrorists since the attacks in Mumbai by Islamists that left 164 people dead, and other major lone-wolf attacks such as that at a shopping centre in Nairobi that left 67 dead.

The killing of the 38 tourists in Sousse, Tunisia, in June, following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, has added to fears of more atrocities.

With their in-depth background in counter-terrorism tactics, the Defence Forces have been quietly assessing the lone-wolf/MTA threat and have been drawing up plans to counter, as much as is feasible, the effects of such attacks.

The course being drawn up by the Army seeks to coordinate the tactical response of the various agencies that are needed in the event of an attack.

They have studied closely what happened in Mumbai and Kenya, where the haphazard, unplanned response allowed the attackers to continue their killing sprees for hours before being stopped.

The forthcoming Defence White Paper refers specifically to the danger, citing the "potential threat of self-radicalised individuals acting alone - often referred to as solo terrorism or lone-wolves".

A Department of Defence spokeswoman said: "The Defence Forces plan to run a commanders' course in support of 'C-IED - Attack the Network' training (designed to detect, disrupt and prevent C-IED attacks) within the framework of NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) and will be open to all NATO/PfP participants.

"The course comprises a forum and exercise to develop a multi-agency comprehensive approach to a lone-wolf-style attack, where an individual is at large with possession of small arms and IEDs.

"The forum will examine mechanisms to ensure coordination between emergency services, police and military agencies who may be deployed."

Irish Independent

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