Skeptoid PodcastSkeptoid on Facebook   Skeptoid on Twitter   Skeptoid on Spotify   iTunes   Google Play

Members Portal

Support Us Store


Get a Free Book



Terror Attacks and Drills: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

by Mike Rothschild

August 12, 2013

Share Tweet Reddit

Donate A few weeks ago, I was driving around where I live, and saw something extremely alarming: armed soldiers blocking off the road that leads to Pasadena City Hall. What was going on? Had there been a bomb threat? A hostage situation? Had the government finally declared martial law and begun taking our guns away?

The truth is less dramatic than that. It was probably no more than a drill or training exercise. Something that soldiers, police officers, firefighters and first responders perform all the time to keep their skills sharp and engage with the public to promote preparedness. Nothing to worry about, right?

Some conspiracy theorists see more than exercises taking place. They tie them to terrorist attacks that happened at the same time as personnel were being trained to respond to these attacks. They claim these were drills that “went live” " training scenarios used as cover by government agents to commit false flags against their own people. And they have numerous examples, involving nearly every terror attack or shooting in the last 20 years, from 9/11 to Sandy Hook.

It sounds like utter paranoia, but a little research reveals some truth behind the conspiracy allegations. Many recent terrorist incidents actually have had military exercises or first responder drills going on at the same time and in the same place as terror attacks. Sometimes on the very same day. So is this proof that the conspiracy is real, and these attacks weren’t? Has the truth been hiding in plain sight? Do we really need to “wake up?”

Military forces and civilian responders train constantly to be prepared for any kind of scenario, sometimes participating in large scale strategic exercises. Other times, they simulate a mass shooting, requiring the assistance of crisis actors to play victims. When one of these drills and a real incident overlap, it becomes fodder for the conspiracy that inevitably arises around such attacks. After all, the authorities are conveniently there to run the attack, people aren't expecting it to take place and fake victims are standing by to pretend to be wounded. So is this what really happened?

The September 11th attacks were the first to be widely linked to a military exercise going on at the same time. And there were a number of regularly-run exercises either ongoing or planned for shortly after the 11th. A NORAD operation called Northern Vigilance was running on the 11th, which involved deploying fighter aircraft to Alaska and northern areas of Canada as a response to Russian bombers flying over Siberia. Other war games that were planned to take place either on or just after September 11th included Global Guardian, an annual exercise designed to test command and control procedures during a nuclear exchange; and Vigilant Guardian, a semiannual NORAD exercise that tested preparedness for various airborne scenarios, including the crash of a hijacked plane into a building.

There was also a biowarfare exercise called Operation Tripod planned in New York for the 12th. Among the organizations involved were the Office of Emergency Management, FBI, FEMA and local police and fire departments. The OEM headquarters for the exercise was in Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex, and numerous emergency personnel were taking up positions in Lower Manhattan just as the attacks took place " no doubt saving many lives thanks to this stroke of good luck. A few days later, a rumor started going around that a FEMA team had arrived in the city the day before the attack, owing mostly to an interview by a FEMA spokesman who claimed his team arrived on the 10th and went into action the morning of the 11th. Conspiracy theorists have seized on the presence of the FEMA team as a clue that the government had advanced knowledge of the attacks, though FEMA later said the spokesman was simply confused about the dates.

Nothing about any of these drills or exercises disproves anything about the “official story” of what happened on September 11th. These drills are conducted all the time, in cities large and small, and the fact that several were running at the same time as America’s worst terrorist attack is entirely attributable to coincidence. No matter when the attacks took place, there would have been some military unit or first responder team preparing for it.

The exercises being run that day were just one of many hijacking exercises carried out by NORAD, both before and after 9/11, and like Northern Vigilance, there’s nothing unusual about a military preparing for various “unthinkable” scenarios. That's what military members are paid to do. Additionally, Tripod was actually the second part of a two-part exercise, and the first part had taken place in May of 2001 without incident. Also, while Tripod was immediately cancelled when it became clear that the World Trade Center had been attacked, it was carried out nine months later, again, without incident.

Of course, 9/11 isn’t the only large scale terrorist attack that took place at the same time as a terror drill was running. The Madrid bombings on March 11, 2004 also occurred right around the time of a terror simulation, Crisis Management Exercise 04 (CMX-04). This was carried out every March in major cities across the NATO member nations to simulate a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction. The exercise ended one day before the bombings took place, and none of the other cities involved in CMX-04 experienced any kind of attack during or immediately after the drill.

There was also a terror drill was taking place around the same time of the London bombings of July 7, 2005 " an exercise designed to test how responders and residents would cope with multiple bombs going off in the underground train system. Of course, this is exactly what did happen, leading to a conspiracy theory that the drill somehow “went live.” A key figure in this theory, which is contradicted by CCTV footage and taped statements by the bombers, was security consultant Peter Power, who gave interviews to British TV and radio outlets describing how his firm, Visor Consultants, was working on a crisis management drill that predicted the events of the bombings.

The most recent large-scale tragedies in America also have drills or exercises attached to them " sometimes going on at the same time. On the same day as a gunman murdered 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in nearby Parker was holding specialized classes in disaster life support. One of the scenarios was how to respond to a shooting and bomb attack in a movie theater. In an interview with a local paper, the college’s dean remarked "the irony is amazing, just amazing."

There was also an “active shooter” drill being carried out by FEMA, designed to train students and parents on what to do during a school shooting. And it was being carried out in Bridgeport, Connecticut, just 18 miles from Newtown, on the same day as the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. And in maybe the most astonishing coincidence of all, a police drill simulating a series of backpack bombs exploding around Boston, called Operation Urban Shield, was to take place just months before backpack bombs actually exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. There was also a “controlled explosion drill” that took place right after the bombs went off " with loudspeaker announcements warning Marathon attendees to leave the area. Surely they can't ALL be coincidence!?!

When confronted with a series of incidents like this, it’s important to remember that coincidence is not conspiracy, and that much of the “information” regarding these incidents comes from sources that want to see something that isn’t there. Numerous training exercises take place in major cities, and it's not surprising that some were running in some of the biggest cities in the world at the same time they were attacked. This doesn’t prove anything other than two similar things happened at the same time near each other. We all know correlation doesn’t equal causation " so why would it in this case? The Madrid bombing is a perfect example. None of the other cities involved in the exercise were bombed.

And much of the conspiracy regarding the Boston bombing rests on events that simply never happened. While the “controlled explosion” was widely reported as a drill planned for that day, it was actually the demolition of backpacks suspected to have additional bombs in them, and it took place an hour after the explosions. Destroying packages suspected of containing explosives is about as standard as it gets when it comes to emergency procedures. And the “announcement” never took place. This entire theory seems to have caught fire thanks to a post from Alex Jones acolyte Mike Adams, trying to turn a tragedy into a conspiracy.

We also have to realize that for the few times drills and terror attacks coincided with each other, there have been countless other times that drills were conducted without incident or anything unusual happening. You just don’t hear about them because there’s no reason to. "Nothing happened" doesn't make for much of a conspiracy, after all.

Finally, it makes no logical sense why a government (or the New World Order, or whoever) would plan a massive attack and also arrange for emergency response teams to be standing by to treat the victims of that attack. What would be the point of running drills and attacks on top of each other? What does the party perpetrating the fraud gain? If these tragedies were part of some master plan, wouldn’t the plotters want the maximum number of casualties to be inflicted? And if the attacks were faked, doesn’t more people “in on it” mean more chance that the fraud will be revealed?

In a perfect world, we’d be thanking our lucky stars that so many emergency personnel were in New York that day, and that responders in Madrid, London, Boston, Newtown and Aurora had been trained and knew what to do. We certainly wouldn’t be claiming it’s all part of some government inside job.

by Mike Rothschild

Share Tweet Reddit

@Skeptoid Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit








Want more great stuff like this?

Let us email you a link to each week's new episode. Cancel at any time: