7 Tips From Special Forces To Survive A Terror Attack & Urban Crime

“We can’t always rely on authorities to keep us and our families safe.” Chris Ryan, former SAS.

There is a climb in the number of physical threats and terrorist attacks in this world and they are growing more and more as urban terrorism increases to produce fear in the public. But while governments in the United States and Europe develop new urban terrorist strategies, a former SAS soldier is teaching you how to survive in urban terror and crimes.

Former special forces trainer and anti-terrorist operative Chris Ryan, whose real name is Colin Armstrong, has published a new book called Safe: How To Stay Safe In A Dangerous World, and it comes at the right time as ISIS and Al-Qaeda ramp up their efforts by conducting small-scale attacks in our very own neighborhoods.

His approach, and one that The Prepping Guide firmly believes in, is educating everyday civilians with the knowledge they need to take matters into their own hands. It’s not about being a hero, it’s about being safe, keeping others safe, and helping authorities to knock out a threat as soon as it rears its ugly, and life-taking head.

All too common now are the stories of a lone radical gunman driven by his own ideals and values to harm others, and it’s not just a gunman either. These low-tech crimes are seeing the use of cars, small and large improvised explosives and even regular kitchen knives as the objects to promote their terrorist mottos.

Surviving A Terrorist Attack

The worst thing about a terrorist attack is that you and I and even the law enforcement agencies can’t tell when it is going to happen.

Powerful and resourceful agencies are working in a global anti-terrorist coalition to try to track these events before they happen, but because of the nature of these low tech attacks, there is no way to really tell when they are going to happen.

This is where advice like that of Chris Ryan comes in to value, it helps everyday people arm themselves with the know-how of how to stay safe in a dangerous world.

For Ryan, he lives and breathes this type of talk. His knowledge was formed on the backbone of his 10 years in the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS). One significant point in that illustrious career was his lone survivor story as a member of the Bravo Two Zero mission in the Gulf War where he evaded capture. Since then he has been a regular on tv as a specialist in survival, and preparedness in various scenarios.

How To Survive A Terror Attack Or Urban Crime: 7 SAS Strategies

Author of How To Stay Safe In A Dangerous World – Chris Ryan

According to Ryan, his advice “is not about making people paranoid, but about awareness and being prepared.” It is this advice that he has also taught his daughter, who has received a terrorist threat against her because of her social media ties to her SAS-bred father.

The same tips he taught his daughter, are ones that he recommends every person know in order to stay prepared for any danger, whether it be to survive a terrorist attack, or even a money-hungry thief ready to steal your wallet. Here are his strategies on how to survive on the streets of our world.

1. Be aware of your surroundings

Opportunistic thieves will strike when the timing and conditions are right. The same goes for terrorist attacks. The target is the same for both of them, it is low-risk with high rewards. The reward for a thief is money or stolen goods and the terrorist is after that maximum impact of lives and casualties to reflect on the news.

For Ryan, he says the first line of defense is situational awareness. For military folk, this is one of the most important lessons as it is a way of viewing the world with a strategic mindset.

If you are walking out to your car, on your own, you are female, and it is at night, then this is a low-risk situation for a thief or rapist to strike. Situations like this can be avoided by simply walking with another person, or only parking in secure and well-lit carparks. If you can’t remove yourself from this situation, then at the very least you can prepare yourself on how to act in the circumstances, such as carry pepper spray or learning to fight dirty and defend yourself against an attacker.

For The Prepping Guide, when we previously wrote a post about situational awareness and being aware of your surroundings, there were a number of people who wrote in. One specific person commented on how they make sure that when they are in public spaces they keep their phone in their pocket and their head up.

This ensures that their mind is engaged in what is going on around them. It may sound like a bit of overkill for everyday people, but it is things like this that can spot factors that raise early alarms such as someone that might be carrying a large suspicious package, a large weapon in public, or a thief that might be shadowing another person.

situational awareness

2. How to survive a cyber attack

For Ryan, he said that when the terrorist cell found his daughter, they did so by tracing her through a photo uploaded onto social media of him at a book signing. He said that this was a sharp reminder of how dangerous the internet is as a tool for thieves and terrorists to use to cause us harm.

For digital security, there are some precautions you can take to make sure your privacy and information is safe from those that would want to exploit it. These are:

  • Updating passwords
  • Updating security on your computer and devices
  • Choosing the right configurations
  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus and anti-malware software
  • Securing your mobile devices
  • Be on the alert for online scams
  • Being aware of what you connect to and what you do on social media

 3. How to survive a terror attack

In a gunman incident:

  • Run if you can run and leave all of your belongings, move quick and quiet and make sure you alert everyone around you to start running as well
  • If you can’t, hide – try to find a place with thick walls and avoid any dead ends or bottlenecks
  • Tell authorities what is going on as soon as possible.

Victims of Mandalay Bay shooting do anything to hide or run

The ALICE method is also widely taught by many emergency response centers as the new and direct approach to dealing with a gunman. The ALICE approach stands for:

  • A: Alert
  • L: Lockdown
  • I: Inform
  • C: Counter
  • E: Evacuate

In a knife attack:

  • Don’t let the attacker get close to you
  • If you are cornered, you should attack with any grabbable weapon whether it be a chair, bottle, hot or cold liquid
  • Encourage others to fight alongside you
  • Find any objects that you can throw at an attacker
How to survive

Victims from terrorist-inspired knife attackers in the UK

In a vehicle attack:

Again, use that situational awareness to be alert of any suspicious activity with vehicles. This would be speeding vehicles, engine revving or anything involving sudden acceleration. Also, try to walk towards oncoming traffic so that you can see their direction of approach.

Charlottesville car attack during riots

Suicide bomber:

The only way to combat someone like this is to use situational awareness. Spot them before they are able to carry out their goals.

There would be some very giveaway signs of a suicide bomber. In most cases, they would be wearing loose clothing with a bulky appearance around their midriff. If the bomb is not strapped to their body, chances are they will be carrying it in a bag or so. Ensure that if you do spot someone, don’t make a sudden panic as they will likely detonate their weapon.

4. How to survive a home invasion

Take a look at likely avenues of approach outside of your house to windows and entry places in your home. Try this at night time and look at where a garden provides enough cover to sneak up to a window at night. Chances are a thief that does not want to be caught is going to take that path. So think about the layout of your garden in that respect.

Use a home security alarm, they are very easy to install and quite affordable for the added protection that they provide. This is similar to the situation in Number 1 for being aware of your surroundings, thieves do this as well and if they see you have home security, they are more likely to rob someone else than you.

5. How to survive a carjacking

It is imperative to know what is going on around you. For instance, a carjacking is likely to occur in a high crime rate area and at night. So be more alert than usual in those circumstances.

For driver evasion techniques, make sure you leave enough space between your car and the car in front of you to quickly pull out of traffic. Having a two-way dashcam in your car can also be a great preventative for not only carjackers, and thieves, but also road ragers that might not want to perform badly on camera.

Hiding the car keys in the house is also another strategy to implement to prevent home car thefts. Ensure you don’t leave your keys in a predictable area such as a bowl next to the front door. This is going to get your car easily stolen by a home break-in thief.

6. How to survive an attack while on holidays

Relaxing on holidays is essential, but letting your guard down? Ryan says to keep it up.

His advice to keep your family safe on a holiday is:

  • Check the latest Foreign Office advice on your destination.
  • Before you hit the beach or bar familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. Look at a map. Ask yourself if there was a terror attack how would you stay safe?
  • Blend in. If you look too much like a tourist you may be a target. Can you emulate locals?
  • In the hotel room, use the safe and if someone knocks on your door, call reception to verify before opening. It’s a common ruse for intruders to pose as staff.
  • When you go out leave a “Do not disturb” sign on the door and the TV on.
  • If you do hear gunfire, take a moment to assess where it’s coming from. Head to a residential area rather than the beach or the hotel that might be a target.

7. How to fight off an attacker

According to Ryan, fighting an attacker should be a very last option, but if you have to do it, fight dirty.

He says when you are fighting, don’t try to be a movie. It doesn’t work like that. Use anything around you to fight with. Ryan also points out:

  1. Don’t expect help – bystanders aren’t likely to get involved.
  2. Shock and awe – Surprise them. Scare them. Scream loudly. You might look like a lunatic but your aggressor may worry people will come to help.
  3. Commit yourself – You should never start a fight, but you should always finish one.
  4. Don’t punch – it’s more effective to use the heel of your hand. Up against his nose could break it.
  5. Go for the eyes, ears, throat or genitals – fight dirty to win.
  6. Scratch, stamp or bite – don’t be squeamish. Ineffective fighting puts you in more danger.

If you have enjoyed this post, ensure you share it with your network to raise awareness of safety on the streets and in the home. We are prepping for personal security to ourselves and our family, and while it is out of our control, there are some strategies we can develop to ensure we stay safe when the sh-it hits the fan in an urban setting.

For more information on how to survive in an urban environment, view my post on Situational Awareness and how it can help you.


  1. bruce Steger


    What people don’t talk about is that in Las Vegas, it is the only place in NV that the casinos even own the sidewalks! If security sees someone that has an open carry on them, they are asked to leave! If they don’t, they are arrested for trespassing! I any other city in NV, you are allowed to have a side arm on you except a court house or Fed building. We see several open carry with possible Concealed carry in any store/park/movie theater we go to. NO mass shootings or terror attacks where there is so much resistance possible with all that fire power in plain sight!

  2. Dan


    Excellent article! As an old US Marine I would only add that if fighting a knife attacker wrap something around your defensive arm if you can- may not have time but it will certainly help.

    • Great advice Dan. Good to see some practical advice given once in a while.


  3. Eric Shoemaker


    Martial Artist here. I totally agree with article and Ben’s comment. In fighting an attacker, one should always use the centerline. Add the knees and especially the shins. A good kick to the shins will often end it. If you’ve ever accidentally hit your shins against a coffee table or something, you know what I’m talking about.

  4. kiwi mike


    good point eric.
    1. just below the knee, a forceful kick or stamp will put most people down.
    2.then eyes and neck, throat.
    3.then stomp on ankle or knee with all your power and body weight.
    4.move away to exit
    if holding anything hard or heavy at 2. use it 3-5 times hard.
    can use at 4 too.
    *** most important it to practice at home.
    practice. – look around a room and id all the weopons avail to you and think about how you’d use them
    *** then practice at home.
    lastly, things will break or you drop them or they are countermanded.
    next attack or weopon. straight away!
    practice multiple attacks, using self and items at home.
    what you practice even in your mind/imagination you will do undr stress.
    remember to breathe :-)mike

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