In the complex and often unpredictable landscape of urban environments, the ability to detect signs of an imminent attack is a crucial skill for operatives and civilians alike.

This skill, deeply rooted in the tradecraft of covert operatives, involves keen observation and awareness of one’s surroundings to identify potential threats. The signs can range from subtle behavioral cues to overt preparatory actions.

Whether the threat comes from an individual mugger, a group assault, a professional team executing a coordinated attack, or a terrorist strike, the principles of detection remain consistent.

This intel outlines 25 key signs that may indicate an attack is imminent, providing insights into the behaviors and indicators that often precede hostile actions.

Unusual Gathering of People

A sudden or unusual gathering of individuals in a specific area can indicate planning or the imminent execution of a group attack.

Nervous Behavior

Individuals who appear overly nervous, especially in a context that does not warrant such behavior, might be preparing for an attack.

Repeated Scouting of an Area

People repeatedly observing or walking by a potential target area may be assessing security measures or planning an escape route.

Incongruent Dress

Individuals wearing clothing not suitable for the current weather or environment, such as heavy coats in summer, might be concealing weapons or explosives.

Unattended Packages

Bags or packages left unattended in public spaces could be potential threats, particularly in high-traffic areas.

Overt Interest in Security Measures

Excessive attention to security cameras, guard movements, or security protocols can be a precursor to an attack.

Avoidance of Eye Contact

Individuals avoiding eye contact or seeming overly conscious of others’ observations might be attempting to conceal their intentions.

Quick Changes in Direction or Speed

Sudden changes in walking speed or direction can indicate nervousness or the intent to swiftly approach a target.

Communication with Hand Signals

Covert operatives often use subtle hand signals for communication. Observing such signals in a group may indicate coordinated planning.

Blocking Entrances or Exits

Individuals or groups that intentionally block access points may be setting the stage for a confined attack.

Timing of Activities

Activities that coincide with peak hours or significant events might be timed for maximum impact.

Loitering with No Apparent Purpose

Prolonged loitering without clear activity can be a sign of someone casing an area or waiting for the right moment to act.

Frequent Touching of Concealed Areas

Constantly touching or adjusting concealed areas of clothing may indicate the presence of a concealed weapon.

High Stress Amongst a Group

Visible signs of stress or agitation in a group may precede a group-initiated attack.

Leaving the Scene Hastily After Observing

Individuals who leave an area quickly after taking a look around might have finished a final reconnaissance check.

Interference with Communications or Utilities

Tampering with communication lines or utilities can be a precursor to a larger scale attack, disrupting emergency responses.

Abnormal Vehicle Presence

The sudden appearance of unfamiliar vehicles, especially large ones, can indicate the delivery of personnel or materials for an attack.

Surveillance Equipment Tampering

Attempts to disable or redirect surveillance cameras are a strong indicator of pre-attack preparations.

Rapid Acquisition of Supplies

Purchasing or acquiring large quantities of potential weapon-making materials can be a red flag.

Use of Decoys

The presence of decoys to distract security or law enforcement can indicate a more complex attack strategy.

Inconsistent Stories or Behavior

Individuals providing conflicting information or displaying behavior that doesn’t align with their story can be suspect.

Abnormal Routines in Daily Activities

Sudden changes in daily routines around a potential target area might indicate casing or planning phases.

Evasion of Standard Security Checks

Individuals deliberately avoiding security checks may have something to hide.

Presence of Lookouts

Lookouts are often positioned to warn of law enforcement or security approach before an attack.

Unusual Requests for Information

Inquiries about security, personnel, or schedules in sensitive areas can be a sign of information gathering before an attack.

Recognizing these signs is not about profiling individuals or living in fear, but about enhancing situational awareness. It’s important to understand that no single sign is definitive proof of an impending attack. However, a combination of these signs, especially when observed in concert, should raise red flags.

Operatives and civilians alike must cultivate a mindset of vigilance, honed through practice and a thorough understanding of these indicators. When it comes to urban safety and personal security, knowledge and awareness are your most potent allies.

[INTEL : Resistance to ‘Street Targeting’ Attacks]

[OPTICS : Budapest, Hungary]