The following is a Red Team case study of a hypothetical terrorist attack on Kansas City, Missouri. It is an attempt to highlight what an ISIS-inspired attack might look like on a mid-size American city, located not in the Northeast Corridor, nor on the West Coast, but in the middle of the United States. The point of such an exercise is to highlight vulnerabilities, potential targets, responses from national as well as local assets, and to think through the scenario before it occurs. If your local government is not already doing this, prod them relentlessly until they do so. We cannot afford to wait until terrorists begin initiating these types of scenarios to prepare for them. 

H-60 Days

Cell leader and primary facilitator (Assailant #1), communicating with the group’s operational leadership in Raqqa, Syria, via Tor socket and the Nashir computer program, is ordered to prepare an attack on Kansas City, Missouri, where Assailant #1 currently resides.  Assailant #1 is an American-born, ethnic Chechen who successfully traveled to the Russian Federation, and then onward to Syria, where he fought with ISIS in and around Raqqa in 2014. While in-theater, Assailant #1 was told to return to the United States, was provided instructions on how to covertly communicate with ISIS external operations leadership, and was instructed to lie low until further contact was initiated.

Assailant #1 is ordered to prepare for the arrival of eight operatives, who will be travelling from Europe (one each from Belgium, Sweden, Albania, and France), North Africa (one from Tunisia), and the Middle East (one each from Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain). He is told to acquire weapons and ammunition on the local market, provided funds to do so, and instructed to acquire explosive materials however he is able. He is also ordered to plan to initiate the attack via an aircraft incident of some sort. All nine operatives are to be prepared for martyrdom, including Assailant #1.

H-45 Days

Assailant #1 purchases a legal, semi-automatic AR-15, as well as 300 rounds of ammunition for the rifle. Assailant #1 makes a reservation with a Kansas City-based helicopter tour company for an airborne tour—in the early evening—of the Kansas City Country Club Plaza’s Christmas lights.