A Review of the Russian Beslan School Shootings in 2004

In 2004, in Beslan, Russia the local school was over run by radical terrorists.

The local police were not ready for anything like this.

The incident was well planned and lasted for three days.

The following is a review of the known details.

Overview – The Beslan School Assault

  • 172 children were killed
  • Over 330 persons killed and over 660 persons injured
  • Large buildings with complicated floor plans — hard to counter assault
  • In Beslan, over 1,000 people were held hostage by 100 terrorists for three days without food or water

How did it Happened!

  • It started as at least 4 vehicle, 36 person “active shooter” attack
  • Attackers quickly over whelmed the school and limited security staff.
  • Additional 40+ terrorists in located in the crowd
  • One police officer, one security officer present, both armed only with handguns, both killed immediately
  • They secured the building in 15 minutes with over 1000 hostages
  • Terrorist snipers and RPGs were immediately positioned in strategic locations once the school was taken
  • Terrorists’ weapons included AK-47s, sniper rifles, rocket propelled grenades and explosives
  • Hostages’ cell phones were taken
  • Adults and teachers were separated from children to keep complete control
  • Intel spotters were located in the crowd outside

Terrorists Actions!

  • Attempts at negotiation by responders were used by the terrorists to buy time to fortify the school
  • All entrances and many stairwells were booby trapped with explosives
  • Children were used as shields by snipers
  • The terrorists used amphetamines to stay awake

During the occupation.

  • Women and older children were repeatedly raped
  • Adult males and large boys were made to help fortify the school, then they were shot
  • Any hint of resistance was severely dealt with

The Assault on the Terrorists.

  • When government troops stormed the school, troops and children were gunned down
  • Before it was over there was 11 hours of fighting, with 8 hours of heavy fighting
  • Explosions started many fires
  • Trip wires connected to explosives slowed the assault forces
  • Terrorists broke into three groups
  1. One group attempted to escape by dressing in hostage’s clothing
  2. One group attempted to fight off the rescue teams
  3. One group focused on killing the hostages by shooting them and detonating explosives

The lessons learned form Beslan

  • Terrorists were well prepared
  • Reconnaissance started months in advance
  • Terrorists gained tactical superiority quickly
  • Excellent tactics were employed
  • Terrorists were well trained
  • Terrorists had effective communication equipment
  • Terrorists were well funded; reports indicate al-Qaeda funding
  • Terrorists had learned from prior incidents
  • Terrorists had gas masks
  • Terrorists broke out windows to negate gas effects

Schools are real targets worldwide!

  • bin Laden has promised that Beslan will happen to the U.S. many times over
  • First 6 months of 2006 alone: 204 schools attacked in Afghanistan
  • 1984-1994: more than 300 schools attacked in Turkey

Why schools?

Our Values

  • The most sacred thing to us are our children
  • Killing hundreds of children will boost the terrorist’s morale and lower ours, leaving us stunned
  • Our schools are a soft target

Our Lack of Preparation

  • Police deal with crime, but school attacks are war acts
  • Police are generally not prepared
  • Police do not have the war mentality

Society hasn’t come to grips with terrorism on U.S. soil

  • al-Qaeda has said they have the right to kill millions of American children
  • al-Qaeda terrorists have been video-taped practicing school takeovers and issuing commands in English
  • Some Islamic religious literature condones killing children if it is done for the “general good”
  • Target scouting and infiltration efforts have already reportedly occurred

Summary for Faith Based Organizations

The review of this incident must also lead us to believe that the same type of attack is possible here in the United States and that the Christian church, hated by extremists, is a prime target for terrorists that want to make a large statement against Christians and our country. This attack will be very hard if not impossible to stop as it occurs if we do not have an intelligence of the planning of the event.


  1. Lawdog310 May 29, 2008
  2. EPS Ghost July 10, 2008

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