In a shopping mall near Hartford, Ct., a conference room full of security guards is learning how to spot suicide bombers, reports the Associated Press. They are being taught blast patterns and behavior profiles, how a bomb is packaged and how a bomber is recruited. Shopping mall security guards – whose jobs usually consist of watching for shoplifters and shooing away loitering teenagers – are getting the type of training that just a few years ago was reserved for the Israeli police and the U.S. military.
“If they’re carrying a bag, look for that white-knuckle grip,” Patrick Chagnon, a Connecticut State Police detective and counterterrorism instructor, tells his class. Students are told to watch for people wearing oversized clothes, to make eye contact with shoppers, and look for either extremely focused people or those who won’t return a look. Terrorists often ritualistically shave their bodies before carrying out a suicide bombing. Around the country, enrollment in suicide bombing classes has increased. The International Council of Shopping Centers held about 20 anti-terrorism classes this year and plans dozens more next year.