Taliban 2.0

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As the war on terror rages into its 14th year gains and losses echo throughout the campaign. In Afghanistan the Taliban was swiftly defeated only to reemerge a short time later. Questions abound as to why the Taliban has been able to regroup and reemerge as a significant threat to stability. Our ally, Pakistan, has also been under the microscope by US intelligence officials and has even been accused of aiding the Taliban domestically.

The relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan is a long and convoluted one. Depending on the point of view, the Pakistani government has been a steadfast supporter, or a staunch antagonist, to the Taliban. Currently, there is some question as to whether or not the Pakistanis are playing both sides of this conflict; supporting America as an ally in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) or helping the Taliban by providing intelligence support and safe haven.

Determining what role the Taliban plays in Pakistani politics and whether or not there is a greater threat to their current government and its support for US interests is a daunting task. To begin, it is important to look at the history of the two before analyzing current trends.

Brief history of the Taliban and its relationship with Pakistan

The Taliban emerged as part of the Mujahideen movement during the Soviet invasion which began in 1979. In 1994 the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan shortly after the ejection of the Soviets. With the promise of restoring peace and security in Pashtun areas surrounding the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban rose to prominence and enforced strict adherence to Sharia law.

Pakistani funding and supply was critical to the Taliban movement and its rise to power. With assistance in the form of weapons, military training and financial support the Taliban was able to capture several Afghan cities. In 1996 they successfully took control of Kabul.

During the Taliban’s reign prior to the US invasion, from the 1990’s to 2001, Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized the legitimacy of the regime, the other two being Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At the height of their involvement, the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency, (ISI), was supplying the Taliban with hundreds of military advisors, small units of their Special Services Group, and thousands of Pakistani Pashtuns to man its infantry. Following international condemnation for harboring Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, they were the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

Pakistan/Taliban relationship post-GWOT

Since the beginning of the GWOT there has been suspicion that Pakistan has been playing both sides; an ally to the US on one side and secretly aiding the Taliban on the other. In general, the central Pakistani government has been the supporter of the United States, while the ISI is accused of, at best, being sympathetic to the Taliban cause and at worst, giving them aid.

A 2012 study published by NATO alleged that, following their toppling by coalition forces, ISI support for the Taliban was crucial to their reemergence in 2004. Without Pakistani assistance, it said, there would have been no hope for rebuilding a Taliban capable of combating the US and her allies.

Allegations of ISI involvement with the Taliban predate the 2012 NATO report. In a leaked report in 2006 the British Defense Ministry stated

“Indirectly, Pakistan through the ISI has been supporting terrorism and extremism.”

In 2008, Afghan officials accused the ISI of plotting a failed assassination attempt on then President Hamid Karzai, as well as insinuating their involvement with a terrorist attack on the Indian embassy. Indian officials also laid blame the attack on the ISI. In 2009, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates said in an interview with 60 minutes:  “To a certain extent, they play both sides.”

Taliban/ISI political influence in Pakistan

Accusations this year have brought up the idea that the ISI, which is responsible for dealing with external threats to the country, has been increasingly meddling with internal politics. Insiders accused the military and the ISI of stirring up political turmoil amidst accusations that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power via fraud.

Representatives Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qudri accused Sharif’s government of rigging elections. Khan’s former party president, after being removed from power by Khan, stated that the party has been working closely with the ISI to undermine Sharif’s government with the promise of new elections should he be successfully ousted.

Pakistan political expert Aqil Shah said the military establishment is stirring up violence to send a message to parties not to meddle with them lest they face severe consequences. By manipulating anti-Sharif representatives the military seeks to position itself to be an arbiter for change. Once Sharif is out of the picture the ISI and the military can exercise greater control over the political process.

Stepping in to fill the void in poor areas lacking healthcare infrastructure, education and civic amenities, the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-i-Taliban-Pakistani (TTP) has a long and enduring presence along the outskirts of the country in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA). Other accusations that the ISI and the Taliban are in bed spring from the perception that the Taliban is affecting the political process via intimidation.  According to liberal politicians, Pakistani Taliban have been increasing their attacks on the liberal parties. A former official from the Awami National Party stated he was forced to leave Karachi after 25 of his offices were threatened by Taliban forces. A senior Karachi police officer said that the Taliban are swiftly expanding their influence amongst the poor suburbs as well as the city center.

The Awami National Party (ANP), The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have all been targeted for their secular platforms and opposition to Islamic extremism. As a result, they are unable to run effective campaigns and voters are intimidated come election time. They inevitably suffer defeat at the polls due to diminished support thus increasing TTP influence.

The Taliban’s influence is not limited to political persuasion, however. In suburbs across Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub, Taliban “courts” have emerged to settle disputes amongst residents. The fact that these courts are operating at all suggests that the public is becoming increasingly tolerant and sympathetic to Taliban presence. Their influence has the potential to shift political support in their favor as they extend into major cities like Karachi. Such power shift is a major concern for the US and its allies since they rely heavily on Pakistani support in the tribal regions.

Recognition of the Taliban is not limited to a growing number of Pakistanis either. In the summer of 2013 the government of Qatar agreed to let the Taliban open an office in Doha. This office is complete with the Taliban flag flying high above its doors and signs proclaiming it to be representative office to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. The concern with this is obvious. Rather than treating them as a terrorist group responsible for the Afghan insurgency, the Qatari government is essentially acknowledging the Taliban’s legitimate claim to Afghanistan. This acknowledgement could do irreparable damage to the US backed government in Afghanistan and help to legitimize the Taliban struggle internationally.

Ramifications of increased Taliban influence in Pakistan

Should the TTP gain enough influence in the Pakistani government it could spell disaster for US operations in the GWOT and specifically in operational capacity throughout the Afghan and Asian theater. Pakistan has been an ally to the US in the sense that they allow us to conduct some operations along and across their borders. They are also recipients of billions of dollars in US aid meant to combat extremism within their own nation. As the US continues to draw down its forces in Afghanistan other questions have emerged: what role will Pakistan play in the Afghan theater and what is the military to do with the thousands of tons of supplies and equipment left in the country?

As we are now seeing in Iraq, the void created by a vacating US military could potentially leave significant assets to an enemy should they take the fight to a weakened post-US government. Pakistan and Afghanistan haven’t enjoyed the warmest of relationships since the toppling of the Taliban. Should the Taliban in Pakistan gain enough power and influence over the Pakistani government it is conceivable that their support for the Afghan Taliban will increase. With such support from the Pakistanis, the Afghan Taliban will be a serious threat to the stability of the fledgling and relatively weak central Afghan government.

A Taliban-controlled Pakistan could also spell disaster for regional stability. Pakistan is suspected of having hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons. Should the Pakistani military and the ISI ultimately back a coup in the country, and the TTP come to further prominence, the risk of these tactical nuclear weapons falling into Taliban hands is unacceptable. Many have speculated that the US has a contingency plan for dealing with such a threat, however top defense officials have denied such a plan exists and said that these reports are oversimplified.

A nuclear Taliban would most likely result in instant conflict. It is highly unlikely that India, Pakistan’s biggest foe in the region and a nuclear power itself, would allow such an eventuality. The ISI is suspected of supporting terrorist actions in the disputed Kashmir region of India and Taliban influence over the ISI could increase such support and lead to further escalations. To add insult to injury, Pakistan receives significant aid from China. This aid is often viewed as an annoyance to India since China and India do not have the warmest of relationships either. Furthermore, in 2013 Pakistan handed over control of the Gwadar port to the Chinese Navy. The port is a significant strategic asset to the region. Commerce flows in and out of the port annually. Control of the port by China could also mean hosting of significant Chinese military assets in the region.

In any event, Taliban influence or control of the Pakistani government is an eventuality that all interested parties should be wary of. Pakistan’s potential to meddle in the affairs of post-US Afghanistan, possession of nuclear weapons, poor nuclear security and relationships with international players that are not friendly to Western interests could destabilize an already fragile region. The vacuum created by vacating US forces could be filled by any number of unfavorable regimes from the Afghan Taliban to the Chinese. In any event, destabilization of the region would mean significant injury to US economic and strategic interests.

Sources

http://www.hawaiireporter.com/taliban-claims-responsibility-for-pakistan-attacks/123

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/editorial/why-pakistan-is-still-important-to-the-us

http://www-pub.naz.edu/~aamghar6/History%20of%20the%20Taliban.htm

http://www.dw.de/pakistans-new-isi-chief-and-the-militarys-face-saving-act/a-17948121

http://www.dw.de/analyst-pakistans-military-seeking-to-destabilize-government/a-17893659

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/09/4-reasons-the-pakistani-taliban-is-winning/

http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/pakistans-new-generation-terrorists/p15422

http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/isi-terrorism-behind-accusations/p11644#p1

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/asia/26isi.html?_r=0

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63647

http://www.dw.de/taliban-want-their-sympathizers-to-win-elections/a-16778547

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11451718

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-21343397

http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21586865-violence-undermines-hopes-reconciliation-islamists-cold-shoulder-sharif

http://southasia.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/05/05/pakistan_s_tactical_nukes_threaten_stability_in_south_asia

http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/pakistan-s-nuclear-security-faces-insider-threat/article1-1231378.aspx

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/why-almost-nobody-likes-news-about-pakistani-nuclear-security/

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The Forgotten Massacre – Beslan Russia and the 3 Day Siege

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By Deputy Gage Donnell

Not many people know of Beslan, Russia. Well, this topic is going to start with what happened in the simple town of Beslan and how it could be coming to America. Beslan had a population of around 40,000 people. Most were farmers, and poor industrial development.

50 Chechen and Arab suspects began a 53hr siege that held 1200 hostages, 339 Dead and 700+ dead.

For weeks, the hostage takers began to embed themselves and stage sympathizers in the city. On the day of the attack they moved to the only dual purpose school in the city. This school celebrated the first day of school as a day for all of the families to join the students. This was to commemorate their child’s first day of education. The terrorists chose the school because of its floor plan, specifically because it would suffice in making rapid and effective counter-assault difficult.

The suspects came armed with Ak-47’s, Sniper rifles and even an RPG. Several explosives (grenades, HME….etc) were set up as booby traps in order to alert them of impending counterattack.

A security officer and a policeman were on-scene as the takeover began and were killed immediately. As the school went into lockdown, response came from military units many hours later. The time delay allowed the suspects enough time to fortify their position.

During the siege, more than 100 men, women and children, including babies, were penned in an unventilated gym. As days passed without food or water, temperatures rose to 115 deg.

Survivors ate flowers they’d brought for the teachers and were fighting amongst themselves over urine to drink from their shoes. Women and some children were repeatedly and continuously raped by the terrorists.

Adult males and larger male students were used as forced labor to help fortify the building and then executed.

Bodies were thrown out of an upper-story window, down onto a courtyard.

The terrorists used negotiations to buy time to fortify their defensive positions. Hostages (mostly women and children) were surrounded by armed guards standing on “dead man switches” wired to explosives.

Children were forced to sit on window sills to serve as sniper shields. The terrorists used an amphetamine to keep awake.

Armed, outraged parents and other civilians arrived and initiated rolling gunfights outside the school in a futile attempt to defeat the takeover. The crowd identified one embedded terrorist and literally ripped him apart.

The media was everywhere and unrestrained. So many people were milling around inside the perimeter that responders often could not establish a clear field of fire.

Explosions touched off inside the school starting multiple fires. Russian Special Forces initiated a counter assault however terrorist snipers mercilessly gun downed the soldiers and children they were trying to rescue.

Responders who made it inside had to jump trip wires and as they ran up stairs under fire from above. By then, terrorists were holding hostages in virtually every room.

Teams were subjected to continual ambushes.

Gunfights occurred predominately within a range of 6ft; some responders having to fight for their lives in places so cramped they couldn’t get up from their hands and knees.

The children who successfully fled the building were so crazed by thirst that they ran to an outdoor spigot and were killed by gunfire as they filled their hands with life saving water.

Terrorists who escaped during the melee ran to the homes of sympathizers. Some townspeople who volunteered to help as stretcher-bearers for the injured were, in fact terrorists.

By the end 300 RSF responded, 21 were killed during the fight, 32 of the 50 terrorists were killed., 1 captured and 17 escaped and are still at large today.

Now, do I think an incident of this horror could take place today, here, NOW?

No…..but it begs the question: as a first responder could I sustain myself and victims for 58hrs worth of combat?

Could I enter and be able to accurately put down a threat after negotiating booby-traps and dead children?

If you work in a field that could require you to respond to such a situation, COULD YOU?

During America’s history of school shootings, we have responded fast and saved lives, but do we have the mindset to combat a well planned, symphonic Attack?

A lesson to learn here is this:

-S.I.M  (security, initiate plans for attack, Medical care to the wounded)

If we can come to the realization that attackers like these exist and have every intention of carrying out such an operation on American soil, I believe we can better protect our future. The better we prepare for such an eventuality, the less likely an attack of this magnitude will succeed.

How many sides to a box? 4 or 6? Think outside of it and do work. This is what is going to win the fight.

My next article will be posted in the coming days. It outlines a course I attended called Terrorism response (active shooter). This program was taught by an instructor from the San Marco’s Police department, my office and the Quantico Marine base police and is known as  A.L.E.R.R.T, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. I will go in depth with what new and solid approaches to active shooter, room clearing and methods that were introduced for you to take back to your patrol car, fellow responders or even your local school board.

Until next time

stay safe     10-8

Ferguson: A Security Operator’s Perspective

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By Sarge Gish, CPS

“The name Columbine is now synonymous with all school shootings just as the name Ferguson will now be associated with all civil disorder and protests”

I was asked to write an after- action report about my time in Ferguson for one of my friends who has a security blog. I felt time was on my side, since I had another detail to work shortly afterwards and the holidays were just around the corner. Little did I realize that Ferguson would be the beginning of a national period of social unrest in the country. Given the lack of moral responsibility among civilians to confront crime, resulting in destruction and mayhem, in many areas of the country the veneer of civilized behavior has been rubbed off. Unfortunately, from my point of view, I predict there will be plenty more non-peaceful protests. Currently, there are a lot individuals in this country who feel they can control or change how the rule of law is administered. I am not a Sociologist and do not intend to explain why people feel the way they do. Instead, I’ll stick with the elements of working a media protection detail.

Risk & Threat Assessment:

Being called upon to work an armed site security detail for a national security firm in St Louis the week heading into the Darren Wilson Grand Jury indictment, I had no idea what to expect. As everyone knows there were two waves of protests in the town of Ferguson and the city of St Louis.

I will refer both incidents as round 1 (Aug. & Sept. 2014) and round 2 (Nov. & Dec. 2014).

Not being on the ground for round 1, most of our risk and threat assessments were based off of intelligence from those incidents.

Our job was to evaluate one individual or group in order to make a determination whether or not the protesters had the potential to become violent against the news crews we were protecting. Also, the prevention of unintentional injury and embarrassment to the crews was a priority.

Knowing that there were viable threats in the weeks before the grand jury convened, we were better prepared to mentally plan and coordinate our moves, and equipment to bring.

The building I was securing (a major health insurance provider) was located downtown and under no immediate threat. Our intelligence indicated there was no apparent danger for the personnel there.

I had agreed to work for another security firm that was working directly in Ferguson which was associated with a local company named Triangle Sentry. This company was given the assignment of protecting Al Jazeera America and the Fox News crews.

The company is owned by and employs individuals who are ESI graduates. Being from ESI myself, I instantly recognized how much of a professional organization it is and felt comfortable with them having my back.

Advance:

I had taken the Monday afternoon of November 24th off to try and conduct reconnaissance and build intelligence data. Also, this was the day the announcement of the verdict was to be read. Little did I know that this was the night we would be able to determine a threat assessment for the rest of the week.

There was no one out on the street  in front of the Ferguson Police Department except two protesters. The coffee shop down the street was” business as usual” with the local citizens sitting around talking about the anticipation of a peaceful night and week.

Later in the evening when St Louis prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch was to announce the decision by the grand jury, I decided to leave the downtown area, which was still relatively calm, and go eat out on the main drag of West Florissant.

As the night progressed, you could feel the tension in the air. Within hours after the decision not to indict was made public, I stood on the corner of Chambers and West Florissant and watched a Mobile convenience store get looted. Shortly thereafter, gunfire was erupting up and down the street and stores were starting to burn. I left the area immediately knowing the Walgreen’s store in front of me was going to be the next target.

My advance was done. I had seen the violence that was predicted. It was time to help out the team (Triangle Sentry), which was already protecting the news crews that were already out there.

Mission and role of the Protection Assignment:

The news crews we were attached to had about 4 teams, each consisting of a correspondent, producer, and cameraman. They were constantly on the go, navigated by a higher up who was monitoring scanners, twitter feeds, and cell phones looking for any evidence of contention.

If you’re lucky, you can ride along with them. Otherwise, you need to follow as closely in your own POV and be ready to go.

Once you arrive at the site, you must make sure all your equipment is accessible along with the rest of the crew’s. As with any job associated with security, you must walk a fine line as to what you are allowed to do. Of course, we cannot physically restrain someone or display, threaten, or use our weapons unless it becomes a last resort.

Our job is to protect.

Though you are protecting the whole crew, the cameraman will be your main priority. It is their job to make sure they get the shot for the whole world to see. They are going to go into the middle of crowds of angry protesters to get it.

It is important to be within arm’s reach at all times and have a hand on their back to control their direction and balance.

You must be able to pull them out of situations when harm is prevalent.

Between the two waves of protests a rule called the “Keep Moving “ rule was implemented by the St. Louis County police, which prevented people, including the media, from standing still under threat of arrest. An injunction was issued by a Federal District Judge against the practice. But it was widely used during the 2nd round. It was our job to make sure our crews did not fall into that rule.

Unfortunately, one of the security contractors can testify to this. As I mentioned the importance of close contact with the cameraman, he was just far enough away to get caught up in what I call a police line rush into the crowd. Once taken down, they discovered his armored vest and firearm.

Though he was eventually released, he was initially arrested and spent the night in jail.

Planning and Preparation:

Equipment for this kind of violent civil unrest was crucial and must be in quality shape. It was important that all of us were dressed in civilian clothes to blend in with the protestors. So all concealment was vital.

There was no restriction on the type of firearm we could carry, but I would recommend a lighter caliber (9mm or 40) due to the constant movement in and out of vehicles and locations.

Concealable body armor is also essential with a minimum level III certification.

There was a lot of gunfire the first couple of days. But I also witnessed several knives on belts in the crowds as well.

I had a can of Sabre 3 & 1 pepper spray on my belt, which I planned on using for first use of force if needed. Unfortunately, I did not have the one piece of equipment that would have been helpful: a protective mask.

I noticed right away all the news crews had them. I was under the impression that I would not

need one until I got tear gassed, not once, but twice.

You do not need a military style mask, however. A common household cleaning respirator is sufficient.

Mental preparation is essential in being able to accomplish the task of protecting the media. You are dealing with unimaginable hatred by individuals who have no conscience as to what they are saying or destroying.

A prime example of this would be the security contractor I was working with. I’ll describe him as late twenties, reservist police officer from rural Ohio who never had to deal with this type of situation. His training was focused to serve and protect the citizens of his jurisdiction with any means possible, including use of force.

Unfortunately the morning after all the devastation from the first night, a group of black individuals confronted the Aljazeera news crew he was protecting demanding they go home. Thankfully, a St Louis County patrol came by to break up the demonstrators. He felt vulnerable and unprepared to deal with situation.

He went home that night.

The ability to maintain confidentiality with the news media is as important as having a firearm on your side. I noticed the Fox cameramen would take their logos off the cameras before we would go out. I wasn’t aware of such hatred towards them until hearing the verbal abuses directed about them in the crowds.

Also, I found it was important to let some in the crowd know you are with the media, just not what your specific role was.

A good example of this is when a large group of white and black individuals thought I was law enforcement. I was working with the Fox crew one night and the cameraman had struck up a relationship with one of the higher ranking (Capt.) Missouri State Police Officers during round 1. The Captain ( who I will not give out the name) pulled into the parking lot we were in with his patrol vehicle to give us a update as to what the night looked like. Unfortunately, the parking lot was in front of the Ferguson police station where all the protesters where.

They had seen us talking to him. They automatically assumed I was a cop assigned to the crew.

We left.

Lessons Learned:

The ability to protect principals in an unpredictable crowd is a skill that must be practiced before execution. The majority of private security contractors are current or prior military or law enforcement and have had experience with unruly crowds. Not only is it a constantly changing dynamic of violence, but also a show of embarrassing actions, directed at organizations and businesses that protesters are affecting. So it is important that we, in the security industry, constantly prepare ourselves and study the ever- growing changes in the world of social and civil disobedience and protests.

We must assure ourselves at all times that we are appropriate while working media protection. And, most often, appropriateness is determined by a threat assessment and preparation.

As Rick Colliver states in his book Principal Protection: Lessons Learned, it is important to remember diplomacy, alertness, and professionalism.

An inappropriate response to a situation is the fastest way to unemployment.

In the future we hope there will be ongoing discussions of media protection for management and increased planning. My recommendation for anyone who works these details is to be involved with the discussions and participate

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– Fox News crew with Producer, Cameraman, Correspondent, and Myself

Beware The Honey Trap

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As security practitioners, we are trained to be aware of our surroundings at all times while on the job. Well trained individuals should always be on guard for threats against our clients or our protected properties, but what happens when we, ourselves, become the target?

At the beginning of April it was discovered that the head of Disney’s regional security for Europe the Middle East and Africa fell victim to a “honey trap” scam. For those unfamiliar with a honey trap, it is essentially a scam in which a con artist will entice a subject with something that is desirable, gain their trust and either convince them to forfeit their valuables or obtain them by force or coercion.

Everyone has weaknesses, and, unfortunately, for Disney Security Chief Paul Kelly, that weakness appears to be women. Sources report that Mr. Kelly, while out at a bar, was approached by a female, slipped a drug and led back up to his room. After arriving at the room the drugs took effect and Mr. Kelly was rendered unconscious for several hours and later treated in hospital with potentially life threatening effects.

Read more here

As security practitioners, law enforcement officers or government employees, we may be entrusted with very sensitive information. It is crucial that we remain aware at all times; not just during our formal working hours. Be ever cognizant for something that may seem too good to be true.

As banal as it may seem, make an effort to truly understand yourself and know your weaknesses. The better we understand what might entice us, the more difficult it will be for someone to employ a honey trap against us.

There are general precautions and multiple considerations when preparing for such an eventuality:

  • Don’t follow that girl. As much of this piece is dedicated to the seduction honey trap, women who may seem especially interested in you or your profession should be treated with extreme caution.
  • Take Favors From No One. Someone who seems overly eager to help you could have an ulterior motive. By seemingly ‘hooking you up’ they may pressure you to reciprocate, often times using guilt or fear as a motivator.
  • Do your Due Diligence: Whenever possible, attempt to find information about someone who is trying to entice you. A conspicuous absence from the cybersphere, or reluctance to give information about themselves, might indicate a false identity or someone who does not wish to be identified.

These are but a few considerations. In the case of social settings such as Mr. Kelly found himself in, consider why an attractive woman might seem randomly interested in you. All of us men like to believe it’s because of our devastating good looks and overabundance of charisma, but step back from yourself and look around.

Observe the room with a critical eye and consider:

  • Are there many unattached men or women present?
  • Out of the apparently eligible men, why might this woman be interested in me?
  • Is her demeanor and dress appropriate for the setting?
  • Is there anyone present in the room that is taking an interest in our conversation/interaction?

Take special note of her behavior and demeanor during the exchange and consider:

  • Does she seem overly interested in your work or professional life?
  • Is she suggesting isolation? I.E. going up to her room, your room, or somewhere else private?
  • Does she seem nervous?
  • Is she attempting to make suggestive physical contact such as touching the knee, playing with your hair etc?
  • Be especially cognizant of someone manipulating your drinks. Do not leave a drink unattended and be aware of anyone attempting to slip some type of drug.

There are a myriad of different techniques women might employ to seduce someone and gain their trust. The ultimate goal is usually isolation. Once isolated, it will be that much easier to spring whatever trap they have planned.

Some honey traps are not a simple one night trick but may span considerable time. Foreign intelligence services have long employed the honey trap in order to develop extensive relationships and cultivate valuable intelligence. There have been multiple incidents of foreign operatives using honey traps. Much of the time, these types are cultivated slowly and the victim believes the motives of the other person are genuine. These types of traps are very difficult to counter. Read more about that here.

Honey traps are an effective means of manipulation and fraud. The fraudster need only determine one’s weakness and exploit it. As security, law enforcement or government employees we are especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation. It is incumbent upon all of us to know ourselves, our weaknesses and what someone may have to gain by seducing us. Falling prey will not only compromise us as an individual, but will negatively impact our clients, our organizations and our businesses.

KEEPING YOUR EDGE: Can I Get Some Work?

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By Elijah Shaw, President ICON Services
About the author

Hands down, this has to be amongst the most confusing phrases in the Close Protection Lexicon. Bad sentence structure aside, the words themselves illustrate a disregard for the complexities that go into working the Executive Protection craft at a high level. As an active operator, business owner and training provider, at least 2-3 times a month I open up my in-box to a message that reads, “Can I get some work?” I found myself really stopping to think about what that person was really saying to me, particularly those that I have little to no previous association with.

To me it means that you think so little of what I do, that I would put someone who I do not know personally, or even by trusted referral, to watch over my client just because they said what equates to a magic word. I mean it has to be magic right? The individual is saying it because the expectation must be for the decision maker to just roll over, discard all of his protocols and procedures and just open up the floodgates because they asked nicely, right?

But maybe I’m being too hasty, maybe the people that say, “can I get some work?” mean they are highly qualified so I would be stupid to pass them over? But if they are so qualified, why is it that they think that decades of established business practices fly right out of the window when you are dealing with EP work? Quick, stop what you are doing and picture someone walking up to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and saying, “Can I get some work???” How successful do you think they would be in scoring employment? So why is it ok in our industry?

One of the problems I think is the rise of social media. The World Wide Web is an amazing place to connect people from all around the world in a way unlike anything that’s ever been accomplished in our planets history, however that connectivity can also be a double-edged sword.   Just because the internet, and specifically social media, has allowed us to eliminate some of the long form methods of communication in favor of a short hand way of getting in front of a decision maker, it doesn’t mean we can’t be professional when the time comes.

I’m sure everyone has heard the expression, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” I’d advise all in the “can I get some work” camp (hereto referred as CIGSW) to pay strong attention to that advice. Depending on a variety of factors ranging from the method of communication i.e., the phone or text messages, to simply if the decision maker has had a tough day, CIGSW can come off as arrogant, unprofessional, shallow and even weak.

Yes, I want assets on my team, but I’ll share with you a secret, I choose the assets way more than they choose me. If I notice a person that I think would make a great addition, I will approach them when the opportunity is right. Usually my vetting process involves me getting the recommendation from a trusted source that already knows the individual. Outside of the hard skills such as tactics, physical prowess, martial arts, etc., communication and etiquette are very high on the list of the type I want to employ or recommend. That’s pretty straight forward, so imagine how I feel with someone try and hits me with the magic word, CIGSW? Is that supposed to be some form of post-hypnotic suggestion? Chances are it’s just coming from a place of “not thinking,” but the problem is I want THINKERS on my team.

In all of my Keeping Your Edge columns in this magazine, I try and give Protectors something to noodle and reflect on. I try and do this from a place of, “here’s a path to developing (or maintaining) successful traits that bring longevity in this industry.” With the exception of a few Super Ninja’s, at some point or another everyone needs a jumpstart or a helping hand, let’s just make sure we do not poison the well with CIGSW before the conversation truly begins, and lets leave the magic words to the magicians.

Things Rookies Should Know When Field Training

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LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN….That is the biggest part. You don’t know as much as you think and the day you do is when you should look into getting out.

Always be an open book and keep your curiosity alive and well.

Now, you will find the report takers, the go getters and yes “those guys”; the ones that are always the bad policy changers. It’s good to rattle the cage every now and then but be smart. Listen to the ones that care about the team, office and community, not the one that shows up just for a paycheck.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If your FTO yells at you for asking questions pertaining to the job, or doesn’t try and answer you by adding “you will figure that out on your own”, it’s time to go higher.

An FTO should be geared toward producing an efficient product. Why? You will probably back him/her up someday and they want to know they can count on you. He/she is your mentor and will build you up to bust you back down. This lets you know that you are doing a good job but take things in stride.

Next, Don’t let your inevitable screw-ups over take you. Don’t take things to heart but do learn from them.

When your FTO tells you how bad you did on something, they should follow up with a how to fix it. If not, you might need to, again, go higher. However, you don’t want to be that guy that goes to the Sgt. every time they say something you don’t like, but you also need to be afforded the best training experience.

Once your FTO puts you in a phase when you’re doing the work, be proactive….the only way you’re going to know how to do things is to experience them.

The academy can’t put you in alot of the situations that you need to be in. If they could, it would be uncontrolled and without risk. Now don’t go out and get your self hurt, but go out and make some stops, arrests and hell, some fights. (didn’t hear that from me)

Look at other guy’s cars. See how and why they have things set up the way that they do. Some have a passenger seat that makes their trunk lonely and others use the “if I have a role over, its just another thing to kill me” reason (totally valid btw).

Your equipment must be accessible, safe and operational. To add to this, When you’re released remember: your car is an extension of your office and uniform. If it looks like crap, the person stepping out of it will look the same. I have heard night shift say “well it’s dark, it doesn’t matter”…again, don’t be that guy. Taking pride in your gear goes a long way with the community and your chain of command.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to use the tools on the belt. If you get sued…hey jack it’s going to happen if you stay in for any length of time. Civil liability coverage is a bitch to the public.

If you have to point your weapon at a person, then so be it. I promise a good FTO isn’t going to yell at you (on scene) if you deploy and challenge.

So covering just a few things, I will add this:

  • check your weapon and gear before coming to work
  • always leave your at-home crap at home….don’t come to work distracted
  • keep water, crackers, spare boots and batteries in the car
  • have a blow out (first aid) kit close
  • don’t stop at the same places every day/night doing property checks and such….be unpredictable
  • HAVE THICK SKIN….if your squad mates don’t jack with you, that means they don’t like you…
  • confidence is good……Cocky is bad……just enough to let the bad guy know you mean business
  • K.I.S.S –  keep it simple stupid, if you think it’s wrong….it probably is.

 

I think that will do it for now, if you want to add to this please comment on the bottom.

Till next time, 10-8 back in service………………………………….

Smartphone Apps – Technology vs Ballistics: The Modern Protector

Smartphone Apps

Technology vs Ballistics: The Modern Protector

By Joe LaSorsa PPS, Consultant, Investigator & Instructor at LaSorsa & Associate

In today’s world, we have more capabilities and efficiencies than ever before. Everyone has a smartphone with internet, email, a hi-def camera and many more features. All of these however, exponentially increase threats and the self imposed risks of your principal. Everything is a give and take, and nothing is free – they enable us, they hinder us.

So what can we do today that helps reduce our exposures and increase our proactive safety measures to protect our clients and ourselves? Honestly, the list is endless and growing by the day. With new technology comes new features with functionality that may seem irrelevant, but that function can be useful to you if used in the right way.

Let’s take a look at a simple and effective method of knowing what is out there on the internet – the Google Alert. This is typically used by content writers to find news articles and things to fill their pages. Now lets take a deeper look at this free tool – you can define and categorize a keyword and select how often it is searched and Google sends you an email on what is found. A phenomenal tool if you are trying to keep track of media releases on your principal, for example.

Another free tool – Google Maps. This tool provides a multitude of ways you can see a location without even being there. Whether it is a birds eye view, map view, street view, etc. this tool is great for on site situational awareness and planning without leaving the office. Note: not to replace an actual advance.

To tie into the previous tool, apps and feature such as Microsoft’s Snipping Toolwhich is on every PC or free apps like YouDoodle allow you to take a screenshot or snip and draw on it with colors and shapes, allowing you to instantly make an overlay for your team.

Another free app, Life360 can be put on a smartphone, and with a simply authorization with an email that phone can be tracked in real time. Additionally, recent crime reports are provided in the map as well as police departments, hospitals, emergency rooms and more.

iTriage and the Red Cross First Aid app, which are both free to download, also other insight into hospitals and emergency rooms and add symptom search tools and even procedures and guidelines for CPR and First Aid. Many more features in the iTriage app as well – check it out.

Voxer is also a free app and this one provides the incredible capability of instant push-to-talk communications over your GSM/CDMA network. Additionally, you can text, send pictures and add groups. An added benefit is the geo-tag which gives you the position over Google maps of the sender and all messages are saved.

Bar and Club Stats is also a free application but the membership and extended use does require payment. This app allows you to scan identification cards and driver’s licenses from all 50 states in order to verify he information and catalog data. You can also mark scanned ID’s as VIP or create an alert so every member on your account gets an alert if that is has been scanned. This has been used most effectively at events at locations such as speaking events where knowing if a patron has attended other events in the past and obviously that is good information if they have been identified as a threat.

Features on your device, such as FaceTime, multimedia messaging and even the camera itself are commonly overlooked by agents, namely advance agents, when providing reports and insight into the destination. Think about trying to describe the crowd and curbside situation at a red carpet event VS. Face Timing your team leader and letting him see first hand.

NowSecure is a great product that is free on the Apple store and Google play. This app puts into a graph what is being communicated both secured and unsecured by your smart phone, and will give additional insights and rankings to your phone security, such as if it has JailBreak software installed or if the devices has been Rooted.

A couple of excellent and free travel apps – FlightView is great for tracking flights real-time, with real-time updates on gate info, departure/landing times and delays, etc.
FlySmart is great for learning what resources are available at airports,such as restaurants, shops, amenities, clubs, etc.

As you can see, there are many ways we can use technology to increase the probability of success of our mission as a protector. Keep this in mind – when you find a tool that offers an exceptional capability, think outside the box and come up with a way to use it for you, your families safety and your principal’s safety.

More to come, stay tuned and let us know what you think of this article and what technology you use that helps you do your job.