Perry Sasnett Glimpses Creative Good vs. Creative Evil , Red Bull Glimpses

Active Bomber v. Active Shooter-What’s the Difference?




  1. a general direction in which something is developing or changing.

Synonyms: tendency, movement, drift, swing, shift, course, current, direction, progression, inclination, leaning

Some trends are harmless; like hair styles, fashion, toys, movies, music and even people, but some trends such as ideologies, movements and organizations are not always benign.

Brussels Attack

Brussels. March 22, 2016

Well, I think it is safe to say the Active Shooter threat has been trending for some time now and is not likely to go away and the Active Bomber is becoming all too familiar. From terrorist bombings and mass shootings in Paris, France to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, this unprecedented violence is a threat to humanity.

Once again the world awoke to breaking-news of another international bombing and mass shooting in Brussels, Belgium. According to theBBC, there are at least 31 dead and scores injured following twin-bomb, terrorist attacks that took placed on Tuesday inside of Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station just an hour apart.   Still reeling from the Paris bombings that took place on November 13th, and the San Bernardino mass shooting that took placed on December 2nd, the attack in Brussels came just four days after the seizure of Salah Abdeslam, the prime fugitive in the Paris attack.

As they say, things tend to get worse before they get better, so let’s  serve up a big dose of reality and start thinking about 1) Our ineffective policies that should address the increasing terrorist threat and 2) the transition in America from an Active Shooter threat to an Active Bomber or Active Shooter/Bomber Threat.  From the terrorists perspective they need to create as much chaos (terror) as possible with the greatest impact (deaths or social/economic disruption) but with the least amount of effort (less effort = a lesser chance of being caught or pawns being played for their cause…US citizen lone wolfs).  It’s the logical progression being played out across the globe and America is not immune as we know from New York, Boston and San Bernardino.

San Bernardino December 2, 2015

San Bernardino December 2, 2015

Dealing with the direct threat of the Active Shooter v. Active Bomber

Paris Attack, November 13, 2015

Paris Attack, November 13, 2015

One week before the Paris attacks I gave a presentation at Red Bull’s Glimpses event in which I compared and contrasted the creative good of bomb disposal operators with the creative evil of terrorist bomb makers and bombers.  The major point being that we, the US, haven’t had to really deal with the direct threat of suicide (or homicide) bombers on our streets…not yet.  The timing of the Paris attacks just punctuated my point and then only a few weeks later San Bernardino was hit with an Active Shooter and a potential Active Bomber tragedy.


Perry Sasnett Glimpses Creative Good vs. Creative Evil , Red Bull Glimpses

Perry Sasnett Creative Good vs. Creative Evil, Red Bull Glimpses 2015, Los Angeles

Now, an Active Shooter event is a very dangerous and challenging occurrence, but throw in the possibility of a suicide bomber and things change for the worse.  There are similarities between the two: like quick recognition of the threat and inserting distance between you and the threat, but some things are different and the difference between the Active Shooter and the Active Bomber and the response to either may as well be the difference between life and death.

One major difference is that “take down” response whereas if 2 or more people rush a threat, a shooter, the odds are in the favor of the opposition versus the threat.  Of course there are some caveats…say for instance the Active Shooter is VERY well trained (like where I came from) or if there are two or more threats that require neutralizing.  In the case of an Active Bomber it really doesn’t matter how many reactive citizens there may be as the likelihood that they will die in the explosion is high.  Check out the FBI response to Active Whatever and see what the USG thinks you should do.  It’s not a bad video, but it only applies to a “shooter only” scenario.

Watch: Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event

CWO Perry Sasnett Afghanistan 2005

CWO Sasnett Afghanistan 2005

Now I know terrorist devices extraordinarily well and am very confident in my ability to defuse any number of asymmetric threats, but when confronted with a suicide bomber your options are VERY limited…

Here are a few thing to keep in mind:

  1. The Active Shooter may well become an Active Bomber…Ref Paris.
  2. Distance is critical
    1. Get out of the blast area which will kill you assuredly
    2. Frag is less likely to hit you
    3. Frontal cover if possible
  3. If aggression is your only option, act fast and with finality. It’s hard to trigger a bomb if the bomber unconscious or dead.
  4. Any improvised device, to include suicide vest, is dangerous in any state…worn or not. When the immediate threat has been removed depart the scene quickly toward first responders or like safe haven, but leave any suspicious items to the professionals.

 A point of note:

Before the 9/11 attacks very few people actually knew what IED meant and now we have all sorts of people calling IEDs what they think they should be called with little regard to bomb disposal and intelligence activities.


Every bomber is a “homicide bomber”, the intent of the action is to kill and maim personnel.  However, a suicide bomber is just that, someone willing die during the ensuing explosion while killing as many people as possible.  The terms are not, nor should they ever be used interchangeably as that makes absolutely no sense.  Not all bombers who commit homicide want to commit suicide in the process, however, every suicide bomber has the intent to commit homicide.

Active Bomber Trending….just a reminder.

Always ahead of the trend, check out a sneak-peek into my recent presentation given at Red Bull Glimpses just weeks before the Paris attacks.

Perry Sasnett, Veteran, Bomb Disposal Expert, CEO ‘Creative Good vs. Creative Evil” Red Bull Glimpses

For more information on Active Bomber scenarios, which no one is really discussing right now, reach out to…. Insight [a] PerrySasnett[dot] com, subscribe to my mailing list below or go to my company,, where we do this for a living.

Make sure you’re safe, your family and friends are safe and your business or organization is safe.  If you’re concerned, contact me and we’ll provide awareness, education and training.

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Perry Sasnett (CWO Ret.) retired from Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG or DevGru) in 2007 and is still active in the Special Operations (SOF) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) communities through his company Zero Point, Incorporated.  He also donates generously to both communities that support the Fallen and their families.