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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Life as a would-be terrorist: Inside the role player’s scenario

By Jason M. Webb | | February 18, 2010

The pre-planned anti-terrorism exercise unfolded at the Pass and I.D. Office, in the morning of Feb. 11, as most of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany employees settled into the work day.

Starting at exactly 9:15 a.m., Pedro Correa, deputy, exercise support, Headquarters Marine Corps Exercise Support Team, one of three role players from Quantico, Va., threw a bag (potential bomb) over the counter and walked out.

The day before the exercise

The day before, in the same office, Correa stole vehicle passes using slight-of-hand. He put the passes in his pockets and filled them out in his car in the parking lot.

He then proceeded to the main gate where he almost got away with it if it had not been an alert policeman noticing his identification card was suspicious.

Correa was asked to pull over to an empty spot inside the front gate, but before the officer could approach, he bolted from his rental car and ran parallel along the fence to the wood line.

Along the way, he emptied his pockets of all his stolen material and tried to escape and evade the pursuing officers. He wasn’t successful. He was quickly apprehended and cuffed.

Within minutes, he was taken to the Naval Criminal Investigative Services where he underwent a three-hour long interrogation.

By the end of the interrogation he admittedly couldn’t remember his initial lies he created for the scenario and he ended the interrogation portion of the exercise.

He was set free to continue testing security for the anti-terrorism exercise.

The good news is that he is one of the good guys.

The bag drop was a feint; his other two role-players were poised to breach the back gate minutes after base police responded to evacuate the building. Once they heard the sirens, they started their rampage on the base.

“It’s now my time to quit being the bad guy,” Correa said as he hustled toward the main gate to evaluate the damage his role players were enacting at pre-planned points on the base.

For Correa, a former gunnery sergeant with 14 years in the Marine Corps, getting back onto the base wasn’t easy at this point. He was a known man.

Having run from the police the day before, his face was permanently etched into every patrolman’s mind.

It took some explaining and presenting official badges as an exercise evaluator before he was finally allowed to get to the first scene where his role-players had recently done their damage.

Phase one

During the initial bomb scare, his role-players successfully breached the back gate by climbing the fence and subsequently carjacked and killed the first motorist they found.

This, of course, was simulated. The car was prepositioned with a dummy in it. The role-players never jumped the fence, nor made it on foot to their first victim. They simply drove their rental car to the first spot of their fake terror episode and dumped the dummy. It was their first casualty and base police and emergency personnel were evaluated on how quickly they responded to the first victim.

Max Seneff and Tierney Davis were the would-be role-playing terrorists. Both come from varied backgrounds. Seneff is a former Marine and former contracted terrorism instructor while Davis has no military background, but she has an education in mass casualty operations.

The two contracted “killers” now had orders to move into phase two of their operation.

Phase two

It would make the biggest splash on the base’s emergency services resources of the day.

As they drove their stolen rental car through the Marine Corps Exchange area, they opened fire on anyone they saw along the streets.

They hit eight Marines with their simulated AK-47s.

It was quick, and the Marines were laid out on the ground in full moulage applied by other members of the exercise staff earlier in the morning.

Evaluators waited nearby to see the response of emergency services that arrived once the all clear had been given by the police.

Ambulances and fire trucks couldn’t be let onto the scene until after they knew there was no possibility of more shootings.

Phase three

After quickly dispatching from the scene of the crime, the would-be terrorists knew they were headed for the toughest part of the day. They had to flee. Base police were closing in and intelligence about the shooters was quickly passed.

“Two shooters; one male and one female,” could be heard on police radios.

They drove directly to base housing and found a good place to make their final stand.

Within minutes, police closed in and started to secure the perimeter, slowly squeezing off the terrorists escape.

As police moved in ever closer, Correa stood by the empty house in the old base housing area, preparing a make-shift explosion.

The loud explosion that rang throughout the abandoned neighborhood got the MCPD’s attention, and they moved in to where the terrorists had holed up for a fight.

Inside the duplex, on one side, the terrorist prepared for a fight while the MCPD searched the connected duplex. No sign of the terrorists yet.

But things changed quickly when the terrorists thought the police were getting too close for comfort. They went on the offensive, and now the police knew their exact location.

Inside the house, the terrorists knew they could hold the police at bay for as long as they wanted. And they did. With no set rules for their demands, the role-players began testing the police’s ability to handle the situation.

Seneff knew that certain situations change the way police operate.

“I want them to work for it,” he said. “We’ve got quite a few tricks up our sleeve that we can use to throw them off.”

His first set of demands was to disable the police’s ability to storm in and kill him and Davis. He knew the police didn’t want to be put in harm’s way.

His first order of business was faking an infant hostage.

“I need diapers for the baby,” he said over the phone line that had been thrown in front of the side door moments earlier.

“That kept them back, and they aren’t going to go in shooting and kill an innocent life,” Seneff said as Davis ate her lunch inside the emptied house. There was no furniture except for three left-behind refrigerators that they could use for barricading the door if needed.

The terrorist wasn’t supposed to know that the phone provided by the police was a bugged device that gave negotiators real time information about what was happening inside the house. But Seneff knew that already.  He’s done this before.

After listening for nearly two hours, negotiators never heard an infant. They assessed the infant was a fake demand used to buy time.

A team 1,000 yards away began preparing to take down the terrorists.

It never came to be. Three hours passed and the exercise was heading toward a stalemate. Fears of an explosive device in the rental car parked in the driveway hampered getting too close.

Exercise intelligence revealed that 1,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate had been stolen recently near here. They had to be cautious not knowing if the terrorists had it in the trunk.

They made the decision to err on the side of caution, and waiting it out was the best method.

Correa saw that the MCPD had done well with the exercise and called into his terrorists to wrap it up.

Davis allowed the situation to come to an end. She agreed to give up and came out unarmed.

She was quickly arrested after coming out the front door. Seneff soon followed out the side.

The exercise was over. The base emergency services acted quickly and effectively in the face of adversity.