COLOGNE/BONN · Two heavily armed terrorists storm Terminal 1 of Cologne/Bonn Airport, shooting up the place. Blood flows and people are killed. The terror simulation exercise carried out by police and customs agents depicts a realistic and brutal scene.
It was the largest anti-terror exercise to date at a German airport. More than 1,000 people took part in the intense drill on Wednesday night. The scenario had two heavily armed terrorists storm into the arrivals area of Terminal 1 in Cologne/Bonn Airport at around 11 p.m. People playing the role of passengers filled the area. The terminal was completely closed off to actual passengers and the public during the exercise. With automatic weapons, the attackers shot wildly around them using blanks, while members of the press and other observers looked on. The duo showed no mercy: some passers-by were virtually executed by the terrorists.
The large-scale training exercise of the German Federal Police also involved numerous officers of the Cologne police and customs officers. Simulated fatalities and spilled blood were part of the plan as the terrorists' deliberate intention to kill was an integral part of the exercise, as Wolfgang Wurm, President of the Sankt Augustin Federal Police Headquarters, explained.
In the recent past, there has been no lack of examples of bloody terrorist attacks against defenseless people. Wurm referred in particular to the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack on January 7, 2015 on the editorial staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris: two masked terrorists entered the editorial offices of the magazine with assault rifles and killed eleven people. Exactly this type of violent scenario was simulated at Cologne/Bonn Airport, with shooters firing into the crowd of people, so that police and customs officers would be confronted with an extremely stressful situation: "Because it is different to talk about a dead person than to see one", said Federal Police Officer Wurm.
It was crucial for the customs officers who work at the airport to be involved in the practice response against the terror attack, since they are on duty there and could be faced with such a scenario. For this reason, customs was involved for the first time, which, according to Wurm, was an "integral part of the security infrastructure" on site. According to Jens Ahland, spokesman for Cologne's main customs office, around 130 of his colleagues carry weapons in the area of airport controls.
Wurm was pleased that the interaction between the three organizations involved worked out well during the challenging exercise. After just under fifteen minutes, the security forces had succeeded in eliminating both attackers in the chaotic and confusing situation, while at the same time exercising the necessary caution. Part of the challenge posed to the officers was that despite the pleading cries for help from the many victims, they had to first secure the area: "A second attack could have followed", expert Wurm pointed out.
Care for the numerous injured in a closed-off parking lot of Terminal 1 was part of a second exercise that immediately followed. It took place under the direction of the airport. Around 150 firefighters from the airport fire brigade, the Cologne fire brigade, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the fire brigade of the Bundeswehr (German military) were involved.
(Orig. text: Axel Vogel, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)