With the Clock Ticking and Tension Rising, O'Neill Warns "Time to Get In There."
O’Neill Discusses the Dual Hostage Situations as They Unfold.
As pressure rose during an extremely tense hostage standoff with terrorists in Paris, FOX & Friends’ commentators asked Robert O’Neill for his take on hostage rescue efforts, live on the air.
With years of warfare experience as a Navy SEAL sniper and operator, O’Neill — who serves both as a speaker and security consultant — had much to say. He shed light on the different variables rescue teams had to consider as the events were unfolding.
Two simultaneous hostage situations. Two very different landscapes.
O’Neill’s time on the air with FOX News focused on the second hostage event that immediately followed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo — at the kosher deli (Hyper Cacher). At this point during news coverage, two innocent civilians inside the store had already been executed by 32-year-old gunman Amedy Coulibaly.
O’Neill concurs with the FOX News team that the supermarket setting with glass windows and a higher visibility level created a “different landscape” for responders (than the other hostage event at the industrial print shop).
“It’s a different place…probably easier for a sniper or two to get some shots off there. What’s important right now, because it’s in a crowded area…they need to disperse people, keep them inside, avoid crowds and keep them as calm as possible. If the guy inside is executing people, it’s time to get a hostage rescue team in there.”
To that point O’Neill adds, “It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to start running through the front door as fast as they can, but they definitely need to get a foothold in there. They need to get in and eliminate the threat.”
No time like the present.
“There are five hostages in there. A way that a hostage rescue team operates is to get in there at this time with precision shots. You’re going to be taking shots near unknowns and friendlies and you need to be precise. They’re trained to do it.”
When asked about “what could happen” if the shooter inside the deli escaped and exited onto a crowded street and populated area not yet cleared. O’Neill relays the critical need to “secure the perimeter and make sure they can’t get out” so that more innocent lives are not lost. O’Neill adds to the value of finding “multiple points of entry” into the building to eliminate the target as quickly as possible, given that people had already been executed. Room for negotiation?
When asked, “Does this sound like someone you can negotiate with?” O’Neill firmly replies, “Absolutely not. That would be a mistake. As I mentioned earlier, it’s good to get in there quietly, and that includes when you get to him not saying something like 'drop the weapon' or ‘put your hands up’. You need to assess. If he’s surrendering, you take him. If not, you take him out.”
What’s next for those in Paris?
O’Neill agrees that given the recent terror that has unfolded and the current hostage situation, everyone in Paris must be asking, “What’s next?” With that in mind, from a security standpoint, O’Neill advises…
"If these jihadis are inspiring others, they’re going to try to hit the crowds that are trying to see what’s going on. That’s why it’s important to keep the crowds dispersed, away from certain areas, wherever there are TV cameras, where it could be shown everywhere. At the same time, you want people to live their daily lives. You can’t let the terrorists win. If you shut everything down, the terrorists are winning.”
O’Neill wraps the interview by imploring that the Western countries like France and the United States will need the help of their allies in the Sunni Muslim countries across the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, for example) to prevent these kinds of terror attacks in the future.
“It’s OK to disagree, but we don’t need to be killing each other over cartoons.”