Strategic Savagery: How to Use Terror

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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It looks like there is no sense and order in what ISIS folks are doing while they are terrorizing people and burning them alive, stone them to death, kill captured soldiers or simply women and kids. But spreading terror and pure fear makes lot of sense in terms of strategy, especially in already „chaotic“ times and territories where they are trying to advance.

Terror is a psychological game.

The „they are coming for me feeling“

I have experienced for myself, more than once the feeling that „they are coming for me“. It is that moment when you are armed and ready, together with more folks, who are armed too and we are all waiting for attack.

And guys who are attacking are famous for the fact that they do not take prisoners, or that they have few sick guys who are collecting ears from the captured people, while they are still alive.

No matter how well you are armed and prepared and ready to fight, if you hear about their atrocities for weeks and then one evening you are forced to fight with them it will have impact on you.

You will face stress of battle but also have to deal with your own fear.

Of course different people react in different ways, so some guys will break down or give up even before fight, without single bullet flying through the air.

Some guys will even surrender without fight and beg for mercy, even they listened stories about „no prisoners“ for weeks. Often they are the people who can not imagine how truly evil people act. They think because they would not kill and torture other people they do not know nobody would. It makes no sense, but it is what terror does and why it works. It makes people act without sense, makes them do stupid things, to be confused and not logical.

Terror is advanced level of trash talk in sports where one opponent tries to make the other one angry that he loses focus. When it comes to terror it is just fear that is used as weapon.

I have seen that sometimes only rumor about some infamous unit coming to attack is enough that groups who are very well organised simply fall apart.

If you hear that there is unit coming and they will torture and kill everyone in their way including your kids and woman, you have two choices: To fight to the last or run.

In the movies folks will fight to the last, but in reality most of the folks will simply run. The difference is like walking on edge of the sidewalk or walking on edge of a high building. In both cases you walk on edge but only in one case a wrong step has much worse consequences.

Few times I asked myself why ISIS has so much success over there in Iraq and Syria. One of the answers is terror. Nothing spreads so fast like terror.

I also think the idea you can have ultimate power over life and death of people makes many people want to join them. People get high on power and that they can decide who lives or dies. If this happens in group you usually find people trying to be more brutal than other people in their group. To be the most respected a feared one.

You finally can rule over people, to judge, it does not have anything to do with religion, it is in human nature of some folks.

Few months ago I read some US weapon forum and one of the members shows his rifle and said how he bought it cheaply and how it was probably used in Balkan war.

On the rifle butt there was still small engraved sign of the unit visible. And strangely I knew that unit.
Unit was famous in war because they (like many others) did lots of bad things, rape, kill prisoners and similar things like private prisons etc.

But at the end most of them ended up dead, killed like the people they killed.

Once when people realize that bullets can kill you no matter how famous or infamous you are it all gets easier.

People dealt with them, and today they are just something like weird war memory with a sign on someones rifle butt. This is a lesson you need to keep in mind in situations when you face enemies that cause fear and terror in you.

First you need to accept your fear and terror. Some people do not accept it and try to pretend its not there until it breaks out and makes them unable to function. Often in situations when it matters most.

Be aware of your fear and terror but also confident in your abilities to face this enemy. This is attitude that you need to show openly also to all members of your group. In groups emotions always get amplified.

Just like walking on edge of high building you focus on the task at hand, the walking or fighting and forget about consequences for that moment.

Terror needs to be dealt with brute force, before it spreads way too much to be contained. It is like disease.
You can get sick from terror, just like from pneumonia for example. Symptoms are fear,panic, doing illogical things, or having urge to run away before even you realize who is your enemy and how you can defeat it.

This is why we prepare, practice and learn to focus on what matters to achieve our goals. Terror only works if you give it power.

What do you make of ISIS and their actions? Please share your thoughts on this and how you try to deal with terror in comments below.

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35 Responses

  1. I think the best way to curb the violence of EI is with much more force, brutality and determination they curiously Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler Prince of Wallachia) did with the invading Muslims in his time.

  2. The story of David and Goliath comes to mind. Goliath and his army terrorized the nation of Israel but all it took to defeat him was a small boy with 5 stones (and 1 good hit to the forehead). Strength isn’t always in numbers or size. Courage goes a long way and confuses the enemy.

  3. When I was a younger man, I worked on an oil rig for a couple years. I advanced rapidly. Soon I found myself working up in the derrick.90 feet above the floor, and the floor is about 30 feet above the ground. The way this job works is when we were coming out of the ground to change a bit or various reasons, is, it’s your job to pull back 95 foot sections of drill pipe that weigh around 4500 lbs. You where a harness that’s tied off on a rail, then you throw another rope around the stand of pipe and pull, that cause’s a bow in the stand and when it comes back towards you you pull like hell. The first day I did this, I was in fear. Fear the rope would slip and I would fall to my death. Fear the stand of pipe would crush my hands, or get caught in the rope. After 4 hours I got use to the heights and moving steal pipe back and forth. I actually got pretty good at it after a month or so. Roughneck is a dangerous job, people die all the time out there. For me it was a mater of rolling up my sleeves and going to work, you over come your fears by just doing it. By the way , our rig lost 2 guy’s in a year, one fell and the other got crushed. We never stopped drilling, the driller just hosed off the blood and we went back to work.

  4. One thing I’ve noticed about terrorists and the results they inspire, is sometimes their horrific actions tend to galvanize the opposition against them. Look at how Jordan has responded to the burning alive of their young pilot? Yes it caused terror, but it also outraged the entire world against them. And Jordan’s King Hussein himself, even began flying sorties and bombing the hell out of their positions. So terror is a double edged sword. It works to a point…but it really pisses people off, as well. I have no doubt that Jordanian troops are now going to be leading the fight against ISIS. Other countries, including the United States were reluctant to put ‘boots-on-the-ground’ against them. Such is not the case now…(at least with the Jordanians).

  5. This does work. I used to be teased non stop in junior high by bullies that ran the school scared. One day I backed into a corner and being pushed around with no escape, I reached up and rippled the ears off the head of the guy and handed them to him saying, “You want these?”

    They all freaked out and ran, I got the reputation with them that I was “insane” and I was happy for that.

  6. The thing that impressed me most about the Movie, “Apocalypse Now”, was the line the Colonel being hunted said when found…he had gone over to the Montonyard tribesmen…. was “You have to make a friend of horror, or it will destroy you”. I believe that. Sometimes I feel cold and unfeeling when I see some things, but fear is the worst thing horror can bring out in a person. Not fighting back may seem like a weakness, and there are times for it, but it’s also good to live to fight another day, so running and hiding may be a smart strategy for an individual or small group. no? And at the same time, justice should be swift. As they say, “All is fair in love and war”. Even as an adult, I played ‘Hide and Seek”. At first when hiding, the heart pounds so hard you can feel the body shake and hear it, but slowing the breathing helped to calm me. I didn’t want to be found because I was breathing hard. Playing the game, I also learned that the one who moves first gets caught. So I froze in place and watched the ‘hunter’ until it was safe to move. Finding a good hiding place may not be easy, so it’s good to practice not looking like a human form. Now that I am old and stiff, it’s not so easy any more.
    We lived in S. Korea shortly after the war with the constant threat of the North returning. I had small children, and taught them to obey first and learn why later, because it could save their lives when there was no time for discussion. I also played the game of ‘who can be the quietest the longest’, so they they would not give our hiding place away. I’m so glad we never had to know whether that would work. That’s also when I learned I would kill to protect them. I have also been raped, and vowed that I would never try to talk my way out of that again. Should that happen again, one of us will die. I am a small woman, who thinks of ways I might kill a strong man, because I know in war, that is a real possibility.

  7. Dear Selco
    After reading your site for the last year, you have me convinced – leave precious belongings and pay any money to leave area of conflict. But leave were?

  8. “Terror needs to be dealt with brute force, before it spreads way too much to be contained.”
    Right on Selco, LOL. I say: If you’re using brute force to get the job done, you’re not using enough of it. I agree with Red’s post…courage under fire, but, like you said not too many will summon the courage to do what needs to be done. Great article BTW.

  9. Americans are more naive than Selco’s countrymen and “expect” the world to place nice in the sandbox. Selco has highlighted one set of bullies. The world is full of bullies, some worse than others. ISIL appears to be at the human extreme with the combined truth and propaganda about their actions providing psychological support for their advance on the ground, conquering more villages of scared Muslims, and supporting the recruitment efforts on the web.

    In this situation, the bullies will be crushed by fellow Muslims with arms supplied by Western infidels. It will take some time, several years in fact, because of the wimp US President. I fully expect ISIL, just like the Palestinians, to be complaining to the UN regarding human rights abuses against their troops and families in 2015 and 2016.

    No ISIL leaders, troops or supporters should be left alive, so the poison cannot sprout again. The West is too weak psychologically to do this. Perhaps the Arabs can stamp out their own cancer and terminate the bullies?

  10. Very interesting topic.

    Hey Selco… could you provide a link or identify the rifle with the unit marks you are referring to? I collect rifles so marked from the Balkans.

  11. Isis cannot be defeated by fighting defensively, only by going on the offensive like the wolverines in red dawn movie.. Action is quicker than reaction.

    Don’t be a victim, be a beast they fear

  12. It’s sad that this has been going on in the Middle East and other parts of the world for some time now – where innocent men, women and children are getting tortured and killed daily. Most folks in the US feel no threat because we have seen no terrorism nor have we seen war on our soil. I’m guessing that most folks on this forum are not “asleep at the wheel” or Sheeple and know this is not just a possibility but distinct probability. Although ISIS is no joking matter, we have a far greater and more imminent threat. I am not speaking just for the US, but pray for everyone in every land.

    Unfortunately the US and many other nations have removed themselves from God as they are too busy watching football, skin flicks, with faces glued to iPhones the rest of the day. And unfortunately God will let many things happen now because so many have let money and greed convince us that we are too self-sufficient to need his blessings and help. Most of the churches are not even preaching real scripture (because at least in the US they are mostly all tied to the 501c3 tax exempt status and highly regulated by the government in what they can say and do), but “feel-good, no worries message” these days. Do what they do in the movies, have fun, lots of sex, show all your parts, etc…

    So how does this message tie into terror, fight or flight, etc.? Terror is coming to a city near you in part because radical Muslims hate, detest, deplore anyone who does not fall under their belief system, and their mission is to eradicate anyone falling in this category. My only hope is that everyone reading this has already started preparing for a very rocky road. If you do not believe time is short for these events to unfold, please find those who really know scripture and Revelation and get on the fast track!

  13. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that extreme violence attracts as many, if not more, people than it repels. He used it to recruit followers before he gained power.

    Isis is following the same path. Evil only has one playbook.

  14. On the high building/curb parable, I understand. I worked construction, building highrises. One thing you learned quickly, when walking a beam look straight ahead at your goal (the other end), and not up or down. As in battles, keep your eyes on the goal.

  15. What we Westerners must do, is stop using our Western way of “thinking” and rationale, the average jihadi is undereducated and does not understand “freedom” at all. I also like the process of making them fear us as Westerners, far more than the pansies here in the West can tolerate. Instead of “negotiating” with them, just kill them and be done with it, trying to make them “like us” or “reasoning with them” is utterly asinine. They have NO concept of Western values, traditions or logic.

  16. Agreed, nothing else works with those who seek to impose terror or to bully others. Peace through superior (and ruthless) firepower. Make them respect our of sheer fear, if nothing else. Screw negotiations, they view that as a sign of intolerable weakness.

  17. Dear Selco
    I am almost retired so moving to beautiful small town on olympic penninsula was easy and best thing i did for health. But moving from south we noticed without a minority to dislike, the people seem to hate each other, form tight little groups and say no to outside world. Its rare that neighbor like neighbor.

  18. I think fear can be the check to keep you sensible at times. Quiet and minding your own business with head and eyes on a swivel but when the situation arises that requires action…. Fearless with maximum speed and violence of action will instil fear in your aggressor.

  19. If you really want to bring fear to the harts of muslims, you have to do what they use to do – go after their families, make them hostages and be ready not just kill them all up to the last child, but to kill them in the most horrible way. That’s how it worked in their lands for many centuries. Oh, I forgot, we are humanitarians, we do not harm people, we live in the pink country where wolves are friends with sheep and all problems can be resolved by chatting. Sorry, my bad.

  20. They take a city: Rain down slaughtered pig parts, surround the city and burn it to the ground. Genghis Khan style. Kill everything, Burn everything and erase the place from human history. No apology. No Rebuild. Just gone forever. The next cities will fight harder as word spreads about what happens to those who get captured by Isis or whoever… This plague on humanity has none itself and must therefore be completely eradicated. there is no cure, no mediation only eradication.

  21. What Selco said about how people react differently in high stress/ life and death situations is spot on. I had an experience that changed me for life that confirms this.
    About 4 years ago around 2am I had a home invasion by 4 armed men. I’m the kind of guy that always said “I want somebody to break in on me so I can shoot them im armed to the teeth and know how to use them”. I always kept a glock 26 in nightstand ready to go but I had an ak47 I kept in my closet and I always said that is what I would grab if someone broke in.

    Well on that faithful night I was fast asleep and I heard the front sliding glass door crash on the other end of the house I immediately leaped out if bed and I was in a state of disorientation and the only thing I could think to do was grab my glasses and glock. In that time I felt an extreme amount of fear and panic and I really wanted to run or even beg invaders to go away.

    This all happened in split seconds and I decided to confront and kill so I raised my pistol up and the minute I stepped out of my bedroom a man was coming at me with a large Bowie huntin knife and I just aimed dead center and started pulling the trigger i unloaded 10 rounds of hollow point 9mm and hit him 4 times and he dropped about a foot in front of me. One of the other guys pulled out a gun in the midst of me shooting and shot at me a couple times and missed which strangely enough I found out later he accidentally shot his friend in the back of the head and that’s what dropped him before he got to me.
    The rest of the guys fled. I’ve always trained and shot guns and even trained in my own house and always envisioned it happening a certain way but it was completely different than how I thought it would go.
    If it hadn’t been for the guy that accidentally shot his friend in the back of the head I probably would of been dead cause 4 rounds didn’t stop him. Call it luck or fate how that worked out.

    After that happened i didn’t realize and wasn’t prepared for the psychological impact. For the rest of the week I couldn’t sleep at night and then for the following 8 months I lived there i jumped at every little sound and and had nightmares about it happening again and would wake up at the slightest sound and grab my gyn thinking it’s happening again. I wound up moving since the memory of that night was haunting me badly at that house. I was forever changed and still have my moments from time to time. I live in a very safe area but I never feel 100% safe or comfortable anymore.
    It’s easy to get the Rambo mentality. Physical training for events is very important but believe me when I say you need to get mentally prepared for it too and even then it might not be enough.

  22. Hey Selco, have you ever written or considered writing a book about either your experience or even a fictional book? You come up with interesting takes on something that I can only try to imagine and yet somehow you clearly get to the root of it so I can somewhat feel like I was there. I love reading your stories and your take on a world I never ever want to be part of.
    I think many others would be interested in your story, I know I would like to hear your transition from regular guy to who you are now (however you would define that), you are very self aware so I think it would be so interesting . anyway – good stuff

    1. Thanks Dave.
      No experience in writing books as people imagine books, what I write is not “shaped” maybe for many folks because it is how really was, it is real life and experiences. Very often people actually do not want to hear (or read) real stuff, they want nice pictures.

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