Terror Attacks and Drills: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

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.

About Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads. He's also a playwright and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rothschildmd.
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44 Responses to Terror Attacks and Drills: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

  1. Reg. says:

    Unfortunately there is a precedent for just such a coup. Anschluss, where in1938 the German army was ordered to really and truly invade Austria without firing a shot.

    Fortunately it was not necessary because the army failed miserably with navigation errors so serious that whole divisions got lost with and equipment breakdown galore with hardly a tank reaching Vienna, but far the worst aspect was the generals overruling the traffic marshals and creating complete chaos. This all served to make Hitler a very angry fellow such that everything was severely overhauled before Poland was attacked in 1939.

    By then not even Hitler could have over-ruled a traffic marshal.

    Fodder for the disaster competition I suppose.

    • Michael says:

      True, but the Austrians didn’t resist, either, which is why he got away with that.

      • Reg. says:

        As you mention with the aid of hindsight.

        There was no certainty that the Austrians would not resist and the invasion was more than an exercise, it was a show of force intended to scare the be’jesus out of the many who were not happy with throwing in their lot with Adolf Hitler. It worked even though there were shots fired in anger by some Austrian troops.

        Don’t forget that a Nazi supporter in the Austrian government had previously been assassinated.

        • Michael says:

          That’s exactly my point. A lack of resistance was why they got off away with this incompetence. The Austrian Prime Minister Engelbert Dollfuss was killed by the local Nazis, who he had suppressed-it went both ways.

      • BloggernKY says:

        All anyone has to do is watch how everyone cowered in their homes as a militarized police force went through houses and yards in tanks and swat gear and then celebrated in the streets for making them prisoners. Did you really end your argument by asking what do they have to gain? Good grief.

  2. big stu says:

    Stand by for more and worse. The Beloved Leader has something up his sleeve.

  3. Max says:

    Here’s the kind of drill you have to watch out for.
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/nov/22/finally-we-know-about-moscow-bombings

    Their suspicions were intensified by a strange incident that occurred on September 22 in the city of Ryazan, about a hundred miles southeast of Moscow. Residents of an apartment complex had reported unusual activity in the basement and observed that three people in a car with partially papered-over license plates had unloaded sacks whose contents they couldn’t make out. A professional bomb squad arrived and discovered that the sacks contained not only sugar but also explosives, including hexogen, and that a detonator was attached. After the sacks were examined and removed, they were sent by the local FSB to Moscow.
    The entire apartment building was evacuated. Local authorities found the car used by the three who had planted the explosives, a white Zhiguli, in a nearby parking lot. To their astonishment the license plates were traced to the FSB. And when they apprehended two of the suspects, it turned out that they were FSB employees, who were soon released on orders from Moscow.

    After a day and a half of silence, Patrushev announced on television that the apparent bomb had been part of a “training exercise” and that the sacks contained only sugar. The local Ryazan FSB and regular police, who had been combing the city for more explosives, expressed outrage. In the words of one police official: “Our preliminary tests showed the presence of explosives…. As far as we were concerned, the danger was real.”

    If this incident was in fact just an exercise, it is difficult to understand why Vladimir Rushailo, the Russian minister of interior, who headed an antiterrorism commission, knew nothing about it beforehand. Shortly before Patrushev’s announcement, Rushailo spoke publicly about the terrorist act that had been planned in Ryazan and praised the people of that city for thwarting it. As Dunlop and many others have concluded, the materials discovered in Ryazan were the makings of a real bomb, and the FSB was caught in the act. In the light of this evidence, Dunlop writes, it has become all the more likely that the September terrorist attacks were also the FSB’s work.

  4. Max says:

    It’s all part of the devious plan.
    1. Conduct NORAD exercises, war games, and emergency response drills on 9/11.
    2. Order NORAD to stand down during the attack, blow up the Pentagon, and demolish the OEM headquarters.
    3. Invade Iraq, but only after Afghanistan
    4. Profit

  5. Mike Rothschild, with a name like that why even get an idea that people would take credit in your writings Mikey. That’s how far you are in touch with reality. You’re a little servant boy. Keep it that way. It suites you well.

  6. Even the fact of questioning if simultaneous drills and attacks happening at close range or even at the same spots as pure coincidence makes Mike the ultimate reality distorting establishment servant. The little boy doesn’t even know it but knows everything about the world and life. Go back to your study room kid!

  7. Benni says:

    Coincidence, oy vey! A Rothchild telling us that. That’s just a proof that these are all jewis terrorism. The jews are brainwashed from birth to hate gentiles(none jews) whits means cattle. We are only animals in they’re minds, and they are “the chosen people” to rule the world. Make no mistake about it, they are the perpetrators in most all wars.

  8. Todd Ojala says:

    This piece is full of logical fallacies, and poorly argued. Here’s a howler:
    ” If these tragedies were part of some master plan, wouldn’t the plotters want the maximum number of casualties to be inflicted?”

    What? This doesn’t make sense. Even if you think the conspiracy theorists are nuts, this is sloppy thinking. What if the “master plan” is to get attention in the news, in order to push an agenda? Then max casualties is not part of the plan.

    Also, the author’s understanding of statistics and probability leaves much to be desired. If a school has 3 fire drills per year, and one shooting rampage per year (about a million times higher than the actual probability), then there is a 1 in a hundred chance of the drill and shooting rampage coinciding. Since real shootings rampages are even rarer than that, the probability of an overlap becomes tiny.
    All in all, this piece is rubbish, whether you are a conspiracy theorist “nut” or a statist who believes governments are incapable of conspiracies.
    I give Michael a C-, and that’s being generous.

  9. endtimeboogie says:

    Ahh the art of what isn’t seen. The skeptards favourite aspects of 9/11, the unseen. WTC7’s, 2nd stage free-fall, hmmmm? B,b but NIST’s conjecture that the unseen column 79 failed which created an asymmetric internal collapse that led to a symmetrical external collapse, NIST proved it with their unreleased computer simulation engine. Best keep avoiding the physics of what was seen, & well recorded say the disintegration of WTC1. WTC1 disintegrated at 6.31 meters squared per second acceleration. 6.31 m/s2 as it’s top section began to fall. 6.31 m/s2 as WTC1’s top section accelerated through its impact and fire damaged zone. 6.31 m/s2 as WTC1’s top section moved into its lower undamaged section, without any deceleration, none. The 6.31 m/s2 acceleration of WTC1’s disintegration continued. 6.31 m/s2 as WTC1’s rubble was ejected laterally & downwards, reducing the weight acting on WTC1’s lower section. 6.31 m/s2 as every single one of WTC1’s 47 evermore massive & rigid tapered continuous core columns failed. 6.31 m/s2 acceleration until WTC1’s disintegrated into it’s own dust cloud. The only part of WTC1 that didn’t disintegrate at 6.31 m/s2 emerged as WTC1’s dust cloud cleared. A remnant of WTC1’s lower core columns, all squarely severed are left standing until they too fall into the foot print of WTC1. The above facts are well recorded by multiple independent agents on multiple cameras of up to broadcast quality. Frame by frame analysis shows that WTC1’s disintegrated smoothly at 6.31 m/s2. The official conspiracy narrative is invalid in regards to the above, most explicitly in regards to the laws of thermodynamics & Newton’s laws of motion.

  10. mona says:

    Ive stumbled onto this 2 years later because in my small rural town the police and school district just performed a terror drill on a bunch of unsuspecting elementary kids and their parents, scaring these children to tears and the school district thinks their actions are justified “its for their safety”.
    You DARE ask the question “what would they gain?” in your article. IF all these events did happen as you have pointed out THEN what was gained was what governments have always wanted! A fearful citizen that looks to the “authority” for help and protection with no questions or resistance.
    Killing your citizens in a drill is counter productive only because you decrees the population and you may need everyone later when you need to exercise something and they’re the collateral damage or the bargaining chip. HARVEST OF SORROWS heard of it? suggest you read it Rothschild and quickly.

    • But has what you describe, “fearful citizens that look to the “authority” for help and protection with no questions or resistance,” actually happened? What rights have you had curtailed because of anti-terror exercises?

  11. Josh says:

    Attacks and training for attacks of a very similar nature has many benefits for those who would actually do such a thing. If your business is “protection” (the one and only thing we really want the government to do) business would be terribly slow if the people had NOTHING to be afraid of. So planning an attack would have the benefit of sending your people straight into your outstretched arms like a child running from a nightmare. Having a force nearby to respond to an attack helps seal up your stooge so you can tie up that loose end. Cut his throat in a hospital dump bodies in the river whatever you have to do immediately while at the same time looking like a hero for merely getting there soon AFTER the real thing happened. Out of twenty terror attacks thwarted in the US 3 of those 20 were prevented through civilian intervention. The other 17 involved attackers who were propositioned, by the FBI who also gave them plans and funding through cash/materials. Why’d they do that??? I mean REALLY, why? A basic shallow observation would be to justify their continued existence but I’m sure its much more sinister the deeper you go. You don’t think some of those drills were expected to accompany an attack but the patsy backed out? Of course responders train but these are not coincidences EVERY single attack having such similar training going on nearby cant be a coincidence. I mean of course nearby fireman are brushing up on CPR or the police academy is practicing for hostage situations and available for a nearby situation..but bomb sniffing dogs AT the boston marathon. Not in Cambridge, Somerville, Everette but at the freaking Marathon. again the pluses for doing this. terrify your people who need comforted. show of strength by showing up and having something to do for people bewildered and in shock. You know who did it since you know you had them do it so you’re gonna get your guy. A heavy “training” presence makes for a thicker environment for the attacker to get out of. most of those involved are actually just doing their job unaware of their level of participation so its not like the cops on the street receive and email about a staged event that they can only do something about after they kill a few people but they are nearby for “training” (look however into preventable events where responders were ordered to stand down) and it all justifies an infinite amount of legislation and financial support (raise the debt ceiling it wont raise the debt), degradation of our rights to free speech, free assembly, security in our property, right to move freely our privacy but honestly I don’t even care about MY rights anymore. If I HAVE something no one can take it, If you can take it I never had it. The constitution refers to our rights as coming from GOD and the governments rights come from us so they may not like your rights they may put you in JAIL or beat you up or even kill you but those rights come from GOD so SMILE folks you still have your rights. (and if you don’t believe in GOD then you don’t really believe in the constitution you just want to smoke weed or whatever) More important than our rights are the atrocities carried out in our name. we have a few people killed here and there by the same people supposed to protect us and that’s horrible. We all desire a murderer to be caught and punished, and more so a serial killer and i’m horrified that these serial killers are in my country having you look everywhere but straight ahead at them and then off for more of their shenanigans. all the while warring with whatever countries are not under the world bank for the so called “spread of democracy” in our name no less. We should have REAL feelings about this. would you want a murderer saying he was part of the same group as you going so far as to say your name specifically? When we kill innocent people in the name of a UNITED STATES Military how would you feel if U.S was replaced with your name personally? YOU sent men and woman to kill living people in a country that didn’t want what you were selling. YOU poisoned the land for all the future generations. ACCOUNTABILITY, I pray for a real day of JUDGEMENT. The principal is coming

  12. Marshall Kagan says:

    If you apply the same degree of analytical skepticism to this piece as the author purports to apply to “conspiracy theories” you realize he/she isn’t saying anything.

    Recounting terrorist drills with their official names and repeating ad nauseum of “drills happen same days as attacks, its normal”. Yes, normal like the law of physics being broken for the only time ever in human history on 11 September 2001.

    Keep shopping.

  13. Gail Corrigan says:

    It’s the same correlation. Not all bearded men are pedophiles, but all pedophiles have beards. Well, that’s a joke but the next statement isn’t. Not all drills turn into the same active scenario that they are training for, but all mass shootings have drills nearby on the same day.

  14. FreddyHeadey says:

    A lot of people are writing from gut feelings.
    Could someone do some maths?
    I cant, but I did get to page60 with a Google for live exercises in October. I forgot to include a year.

    Quote some figures. Even if they are flawed it’ll put us all into a better position to put things in perspective.

    They’re obsessed with training
    http://longform.temple-news.com/watching-for-the-unthinkable/

    OK, I’ve not checked for duplicates but got as far as page 60 here https://goo.gl/QxTYnQ for October’

    • Noah Dillon says:

      I saw someone do it somewhere previously. Drills are really almost continuous in one branch of the military or government or another. If a terror attack happens, it’s almost certain that there will be a drill going on somewhere.

  15. LB says:

    After San Bernardino shooting happening at the same time as drill exercises for the exact same scenario, do you still feel these area ll coincidences?
    It makes sense that not all drills end up real because they are frequent, but does it make sense that so many terror attacks happen during drills? Statistically, once or twice makes sense, but we’re talking about dozens.

  16. scott says:

    You can’t be this stupid .

  17. Frank Facts says:

    with military and law enforcement conducting ‘drills’ around the same times and locations of putative foreign terror attacks, why haven’t they stopped one. most logical answer is because they are behind them

  18. Cogliastro says:

    Mike Rothschild. That name sounds vaguely familiar Perhaps it is necessary to sublimate the act nearby in time and or space to influence the actors in the real action. They being mere holograms

  19. William says:

    HERE is a true fact! The shotgun threat police would carry in their cars was primarily for breaching doors!!! NOT KILLING!!! Do you have any clue how hard it is to breach a door with an AR? ya really cant. I did not read all the comments but the way I found this page is my eyes are finally opening! Think about it, after every major police scandal we have a “nut job” do something on American soil and the police are made out to look like heroes! All news on all formats stops talking about how the town or county’s crooked pigs are killing every color of people and how its so hard for them so they need rocket launchers now and LRAD just incase the middle or lower class neighborhood that is throwing an end of summer block party goes on too long and needs to be shut down with military grade weaponry . I bet you, next time another crooked pig kills an innocent kid, WITHEN A WEEK WE WILL BE “ATTACKED” some how. It has happened every time.

  20. Darryl says:

    Port Arthur Massacre
    Tasmania Australia April 1996 36 Victims? ‘Shooter was never tried by a jury and was mentally incapable of the precision shooting that clamed the victims. *Witnesses claimed the shooter shot from the right hip in rapid succession – Martin Bryant the ‘shooter’ was left handed
    Training exercise held in area corresponding to the event. Tasmania had the lowest murder rate in Australia, yet a refrigerated ‘mortuary truck’ was purchased a short time before the event and re-sold immediately after the event

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