Airport security: Taking charge during a terrorist attack

Posted: 28 July 2016 | | 10 comments

Security analyst Bart Brands has devised a method which can be used as a policy for mass transit hubs such as airports, calling on visitors to identify threats and reduce their risk of being a victim of a terrorist attack…

Airport security Taking charge during a terrorist attack

With a passion for personal safety and security, I have developed the A.A.E.A method. After examining different terrorist attacks, there are a number of easily applicable behavioral changes anyone can make, that reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack.

The A.A.E.A method has been developed so it can be used as policy for mass transit hubs such as airports, but also by ordinary citizens. Anyone who wants to take responsibility and help others can profit by learning the A.A.E.A. method.

By implementing and promoting this method, governments and transit hubs can use all of their passengers as one large, organic profiling and surveillance ‘database’ and promote self-help in case a terror attack occurs. Implementation is cost friendly and uses the publics’ self-preservation as the main motivator for learning and using the A.A.E.A method.

A.A.E.A stands for Awareness, Avoidance, Evasion and Attack.

Let’s briefly explore the four aspects of the A.A.E.A method.


Awareness is the first and most important step in the A.A.E.A method. Awareness of one’s surroundings and those who are in the direct vicinity of oneself is something that law enforcement – and anti-terrorism units regularly trains for. It is a basic aspect for security and military personnel, and something anyone can learn.

The only thing that basic awareness requires from people is paying attention. Paying close attention may seem increasingly difficult in a world where social media is constantly striving for our attention, but delivers maximal results with minimal effort.


  • Check your surroundings;
  • Check for exits and ‘hard’ structures that can provide shelter;
  • Check details of suspicious people, ‘map’ their physical attributes and behaviour;

Avoidance is the next step in the A.A.E.A method. Attacks perpetrated by terrorists are often focused on – in the eyes of the attackers – legitimate targets, which will deliver the biggest amount of casualties and disrupt society. The targets are filled with innocent and defenseless men, women and children. If possible, avoid these situations. If you have no choice but to be in a higher risk situation, try to limit your presence there, i.e. when at an airports, you could choose to spend some time in a quieter part of your gate.


  • Avoid large groups of people in higher risk environments;
  • Avoid waiting in long lines. Lined up in a que, you are vulnerable. Wait at some distance in order to minimize time spent waiting in line;
  • Make sure you stay ‘mobile’. Don’t get stuck in groups that limit your freedom of movement;


Evasion helps you in case steps one and two fail to keep you from harm’s way, and you end up with a terrorist attack unfolding in your immediate vicinity. Most people tend to react in either one of the following three ways;

  1. Flight
  2. Fight
  3. Freeze

Whenever not directly involved or injured, it is of vital importance that you do not freeze! Move away from the threat. It is important that you fall back to step one, Awareness, so you can distance yourself from the source(s) of chaos. Always do this in a calm, deliberate and controlled manner. Avoid being trampled. Use any ‘hard’ structure that can provide shelter.


  • Try to avoid freezing; (train and visualise)
  • Move away from the chaos;
  • Act in a calm, controlled and deliberate manner;
  • Apply step one, Awareness;


When you find yourself in a terrorist attack and steps one, two and three have failed, you are left with only one option: Attack! This is something you want to avoid at all costs, but sometimes unavoidable.

In a situation like this, it is important to know that most terrorists are willing to die for their cause. Knowing this makes a counterattack extremely dangerous, proven by the security guard at Ataturk Airport who was killed confronting a terrorist. Always try to prevent this step and only use it as a last resort.

Never try to be a hero. Your goal is to survive. Only fight back when needed.


  • Only use as a last resort;
  • Attack with conviction;
  • Train!


Bart Brands is a 34 year old Security expert and owner of Brands Public Policy Advise. He has a Bachelor’s degree in applied security sciences and is a former member of both the city council of The Hague and Provincial Parliament in South Holland.

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10 responses to “Airport security: Taking charge during a terrorist attack”

  1. Dear Bart,

    thanks for the interesting article. I fully agree: the more people apply the A.A.E.A. method the better.

    Nevertheless the time AFTER the incident has to be considered as well: The more we understand how the incedent happened and who was involved, the easier it will be to catch the terrorist and to take measures to avoid such attacks in the future.

    Therefore we need clear video surveillance with high resolution of the entire scene – permanently!
    This is possible with a new camera technology called PANOMERA ( It allows to zoom and navigate through the entire scene AFTER it has been recorded.

    Call me, if you think this technology is of interest for you.
    Thanks and looking forward to talk to you personally.

    Best regards
    Christoph Kreis
    +49 941 87 00 240

    • Thanks for your comment Christoph,

      Of course the AAEA method is just a small part of the overarching effort of stopping terrorism. And more surveillance is another part of that same effort. My approach is aimed at selfhelp and responsibility we can all take in the fight against terror.

  2. Nikou G says:

    All your thoughts are to the right direction and everybody would like to follow these methods . However I think it is a little bit theoritical as what is going to happen when every passenger at an airport is awared and follows the above steps. It is impossible to see such a picture at an airport as everybody will avoid ques and will walk alone alongside the wall. I think it is unfeasible not to keep a line infront of check points (screening points , passport controls etc)

    • Thanks for your comment Nikou,

      If everybody could implement just 1 of 2 point of the AAEA method the risk of being caught in or being victim of a terrorattack will be smaller. Of course you cannot avoid every risky situation all the time but implementing this method can help security services, help travelers before, during and after a attack. Furthermore, the article is just a summary of a much broader method in which each of the 4 points are of course deeply explained and approached.


  3. I can’t quibble with most of what Mr. Brands puts forth in his AAEA guidance. After all, what he is really telling us is that if you lack common sense, here’s what you need to do. But I do challenge his “avoid at all cost” approach to the “Attack” part of his guidance. If everyone similarly situated in a terrorist event were to wait until he or she is directly confronted before “attacking”, then the opportunity to overwhelm the terrorist(s) is lost.

    • Thanks for your comment Tim,

      Attacking a suspect is a very personal and highly dangerous and risky endavour. If you have the skills to do so in a earlier stage you can Always make that descision. But for a typical traveler who is nog skilled in martial arts or self defense tactics like Krav Maga the risks are high. That and taking into account that most terrorist want to die in a attack and wear bombvests make attacking whilst alone or even in a group very dangerous. My method is aimed at survival and moving away and hiding whilts waiting for security services is the better option. Terror attacks usually only last for a couple minutes at the most. Avoiding and Evading will reduce the risk of being a victim whilst attacking will increase it.

      Thanks again

  4. Pablo Cruz says:

    Thanks. Sad, but useful. Again, thanks.

  5. Danny says:

    Also wearing a railroad stone with you helps attacking those idiots from a distance. trow it! dont let them think with a gun “I’m god!”

    then when they seach shelter it gives security time to shoot the terrorist down aerlier!

    • Hello Danny,

      Thanks for your remark. Even though I would welcome a form od self-defense even in airports, it is important we conform with (local) laws. Your railraod stone in that case could be a good alternative to illegal weapons. However if you want to be able to defend yourself it is essential to train your skills which could mean trowing stones untill you can with a great amount of certainty.

      Thanks again and stay safe.

      Best regards,

      Bart Brands

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