Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

The attack on New Year’s Eve in Istanbul was yet another example of how having 1000s of armed police in uniform and under cover through out a Metropolitan area will have no effect on the outcome.

The chances of intercepting an attack in its final phase are mostly based on luck rather than methods.

Much remains to be answered but it these are clear so far , one attacker , armed with assault rifle which from the footage was an AK 47 . Standard magazine size taken into account and initial forensic indicating 120 shots fired shows he changed magazines a number of times .

Witness statements indicate he shot from the hip and directly into people who had taken cover by laying on the ground , he maintained his attack for 7 minutes and then changed his outer clothing in the kitchen and walked off during the chaos after the attack.
Cold , calculated , experienced and motivated is the summery of this attacker one that no security service wants on its turf, but not a suicide attacker he had planned to walk out and he did.

He has been identified by finger prints as being Lakhe Mashrapov from the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. he had been in the country since November with is family.
It’s highly unlikely that this was a random attack, the cell he has been associated with have already been linked to the airport bombing few month earlier.

But these are details that suit an investigator , our concern must be focused on the similar attacks and the likely hood of them happening where we are . We must also assess if basic measures we are being offered will suffice to stop an attack . Armed police are mostly for reassuring the public as any attacker is unlikely to want to have a shoot out with police , they are looking for soft targets and maximum impact ,the least protected the target better and that ,means 99.9% of public spaces .
So far in United kingdom we must accept the security services have done their job and hope that they continue to do so. There has had to be a lot of retuning and learning as the traditional enemies of the state in UK played with different rules compering to the new likely suspects.

Taking into account that Turkey’s geo position at this moment in history could not be more difficult added to this is its own entangled involvement in many fronts with the participants of the civil war in Syria.
It has also seen a complete purge of some of its security apparatus due to the recent bloody coup and its aftermath .
There are many hands in play in Turkey , the state of play is confusing and the players maintain their own positions at any cost.

There has been many recent attacks in Turkey with casualties running into hundreds, with many different motives from dissatisfied Kurds to various militant groups and some even accuse the state in being behind some attacks.
The only plausible defence is good intelligence and the ability to act in timely and desired manner but given the complexities in Turkey that may be a pie in the sky and beyond reach of the man in charge .

Drones are hovering

Drones are hovering

Drones are hovering

The fast growth of Drones availability married to the inevitable technological advances has created much anxiety within the various security sectors .
The military of-course has been using drones for some time now for reconnaissance and attack but their exclusive use has been challenged by increasing capability of the commercial drones.

We have all seen propaganda footage broadcast by terrorist groups showing the last moments of a suicide attack .
That is not the only way they have been using commercial drones , their have used them for standard battlefield recognisance ,mortar and long range weapon’s target finding , reorganising of defence and attack in real time and even directing the suicide car bomb to troops concentration points on the battle field .

While all that seems far away from the rest of us , the internal security forces of all nations have had to wake up to challenges drones create in the hands of terrorists and a like .

The major issues that have given concerns are the range ,operating time and method of control and critically payload.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see the possibility that a commercially available drone that is capable of lifting a professional camera system suitable for films documentary or other type for extended periods can offer an ill intentioned individual or group.

Many of the drone systems can now be flown through the forward camera view of the machine which enhances flight control and accuracy substantially . Many can be preprogrammed through GPS system to take a payload to an exact position without the help of the operator .
Due to their size they can be flown from almost anywhere and the extended flight time and their speed means that no place is a no go area for them .

A variety of creative methods have been tested and developed .They range from drones used to bring down offending drones , trying of birds of prey to attack drones and recently new systems have been developed to jam the signal controlling the drones to bring them down or triggering their return to base mechanisms that are built into some drones .

There has also been a regulatory response to commercial drones to alleviate public concern for safety and privacy ,they seem how ever to have short shelf lives as technology within the drones improve and legitimate commercial pressure for their use increases and creates challenges for regulators.

The likes of Amazon and such are already gearing them selves for drone delivery service to customers.
The privacy safe guarding challenges are lower on the list of issues when compared against the potential use they can be put to by a terror organisation or just a an individual hell bent of ill conceived glory .

Certainly all security sectors are challenged but can also can benefit from the use of drones, on the other hand they will no doubt become a potent weapon in the hands of terrorists also.

image of lorry in Berlin attack

Berlin attack

Multiple failures by security and the legal system in Germany and Italy lay behind the Berlin attack might be the first conclusion after the event .

The general belief is that widest and the most encompassing circle of defence is the intelligence service of a country when dealing with terrorist attacks of any nature. As such it is the most important and the first line of defence and failure and oversights at this point will inevitability mean the attack will go ahead unless luck intervenes.

The issues raised after the attack in terms of on the ground changes will have only marginal effects. Measures such as traffic management systems, barriers, permanent re-routing away from attractions and other large scale people hubs can only be considered as last line of defence systems, armed police and military standby units are much the same.

If we examine the movement of the Tunisian Anis Amri and his repeated interactions with the security services in Germany and Italy we can see how bureaucracy and security can make very poor bedfellows.

Of course, there are many other factors such as resources, prioritisation of threats, political climate at the time. One must also consider the huge influx of refugees and the inevitable strains it caused in the systems governing Germany.

Much was made of the movement of the man involved after the event i.e his travels across Europe and his final demise in Italy where he had previously served a three-year sentence and told to leave the country.

Some interesting information has also emerged on the events leading to the attack,  such as the hijacking and killing of the driver of the Polish truck.

But these are of little significance comparing to the attacker being on Germany’s top list of individuals to watch, he was under surveillance for up to six month, his arrests, the failure of his asylum application, failed deportation, his multiple false IDs /nationalities and releases back into society after legal deadlocks.

If one aspect of being part of a wide European umbrella is enhanced security one must see this man’s presence, his constant criminality and his clear slow path into self-radicalisation without any decisive intervention from the authorities as a failure.

Pondering the tactical changes on the ground only deals with some issues but the larger issues will loom large regardless, among them are:

Finding a balance between security and human rights and the impact of any measure on society and quality of life as whole.

The wider European collaboration and coordination for security services.

But the Gorilla in the room is wider foreign policy decisions that has led directly to civil wars, regime changes, mass movements of people, armed radical movements  supported by governments in opposition to their normal treaty statues with each other is to name but  a few.

First circle of security may just be the right political decisions.

 

assassination

Assassination in full view

At first glance the shooting of the Russian ambassador in Turkey raises more questions than it answers.

The overall security of a foreign mission and its staff is the responsibility of the host country.

The countries who have embassies also provide security for their missions and their staff in coordination with the host country.

The generalities stop there, there are clear differences for security consideration given to American and Russian missions than let’s say Mongolia and Chile diplomatic missions the first two are world powers with global policies that affect the lives of many inhabitants in many countries directly they also project military power in support of those policies. The others two do not.

Given the Russian involvement on behalf of Assad  indirect opposition to Turkey’s own active policies in support of the rebels and the event last year of Russian sanctions following Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet one can see that there would have been an up-scaling of the security measures for the Russian ambassador.

However, from the current evidence the absent of any security detail around the ambassador other than the assassin who is said to have been off duty and belonged to the riot police unit is clear.

The officer suitably dressed and armed had positioned himself directly behind the victim who was at the podium in a spot that would have been only be taken by close protection officer, was one even present? it has been suggested that the assassin was part of the security detail a claim denied by Turkish authorities.

The assassin proceeded to fire 9 rapid shots into the ambassador with no response from any security personnel, and continued to shout slogans and quote verses from Al Nasura front anthem (Al-Qaeda associate in Syria who have recently changed their name on advice to avoid being targeted by Russians!)

He was allegedly shot dead later by Turkish security forces.

The clear absence of security personnel. An armed uninvited person gaining entry to an invitation only event. No immediate response. The absence of even the most basic of threat and risk assessment beforehand and any apparent mitigation.

It may be that such an event can only be conducted by  the boldest of assassins or be allowed to happen by the grandest of security failures but at the very least by tacit collaboration of others in the ranks of the host nations security services.

 

man on the bridge by  Edward Munch

Worst case scenario

Worst case Scenario thinking in security.

Risk management involves mitigating against real and current threats, here the word “real” plays a crucial part in this conversation.

The effect of news media on our perception of threats cannot be underestimated so its best to remember a few things about the news media. firstly, the news media is competitive environment whereby  profit demands being first and overwhelming in coverage. It also must develop a narrative that captivates the audience. the prime narrative in this equation is fear, another is sensationalism. The combination of these and the growth of the social media and its ability to further amplify the worse aspect of the news media coverage of certain event brings us to a point of collective “worse case thinking” .

In the case of normal man and woman in society this only leads to increase anxiety and paranoia which  harms the individual’s quality of life. In society, the effect are hysteria, xenophobia and willingness to forgo long established civil liberties, all adding to negative trends in society and potential abuse of power.

The impact that concerns us as security specialist is exemplified by Dick Cheney who was the vice president in G.W.|Bush’s administration. Whereby he advocated that a %1 potential of AL Qaeda arming themselves with a nuclear weapon was to be treated as a %100 certainty to create adequate response. while at first look based on our instance reaction we may be inclined to agree,on  a professional  we must logically realise to change a very low probability to an absolute certainty is purely a great flight of imagination and mostly emotional .This is not based on correct mitigation of a threat and management of risk. The immediate effect is simply focusing attention on the remotest of possibilities and devoting undue amount of attention and resources, at the cost of dealing with more current and real threats.

In society this leads to overt measures , increase in intrusive security protocols some of which is alarming to the public & does not deter attacks but merely changes their nature .

The impact on the state of mind of security personnel, specialist , planners and interactions with their normal environments and the basic of their jobs is far more detrimental than can be measured.

Simply that fear itself, one of the very thing we are to guard the rest of the society against and create a sense of security and normally which are some of prime reasons we are employed , fear takes control  of  us and inevitably leads to over sights , over reaction and failures  .

Close Protection USA

Close protection USA

Close Protection in USA a reality check

Let’s take a look at some facts and figures so that we can identify the real Threats and Risk and not the falsely perceived namely Terrorism which accounts for 31 deaths on average in USA with the 9/11 taken into account.Close protection in USA is about more about professional approach to the fundamentals and basics than the glory hugging action hero gestures and posturing .

Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, and 26,819 people were injured (those figures exclude suicide]) Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted. Source:  Gun Violence Archive

The US death toll between 1968 and 2011 surpasses all wars ever fought by the country. There were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq. Source: Politifact.

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and injuring 1,870. A mass shooting is describing a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant. Source: Mass Shooting Tracker

There are thought to be about 300 million guns in the US, owned by about a third of the population so that is 106.6 million people with guns.

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870. These events take place in cinemas, shopping malls and all public.

source the Mass Shooting Tracker.

There were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes (murder and non-negligent homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) reported by law enforcement.)

There are approximately 1.4 million active gang members comprising more than 33,000 gangs in the United States.

Source 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment FBI

343 well-armed anti-government militias numbering over 100.000 members, many have been involved in armed stand offs with federal and local forces.

Added to that there are 800,000 armed police with a stablished reputation of using their weapons aggressively.

The main threat in USA is guns and crime and occasionally the law enforcements. The figures make it clear that this is no Walt Disney landscape and you need to develop a good local knowledge for example of crime hotspots, type of crimes, active gangs, and their area of operation and methodology.

It is essential to take into account active, current threats rather than the news driven high profile threats that frankly are statically should be very low on the scale of priorities.

Essential tools for close protection operative in USA is an accurate threat and risk assessment, thorough planning, well-practised situational & spatial awareness and hopefully a gun!

Rio and its famous statue

Close Protection at Brazil’s Olympic

Close protection at  Brazil Olympic

With the summer games fast  approaching many high net worth individuals and their security personnel will decamp to Brazil.

Brazil poses its own unique security threats for security professionals who will arrive with their clients.

Let us not forget that tweeted message from a Islamic  member which gained wide spread news converge recently , “Brazil, you are our next target”  nevertheless if we put things in to proportion Latin  America is not assessed to be a hot bed of Islamic extremism and most of its armed opposition are motivated by political views far removed from the Islamic  extremists  they mostly name far left Marxist Leninist ideas as their motivation.

The biggest threat to visitors are the frightening crime figures for example it had one of the highest murder rates in the world .

Wide areas of  the major cities are under the influence if not control of heavily armed gangs who have not hesitated to engage the state and its various enforcement agencies  in all out armed conflicts on the street  to protect their interest .

As in the rest of Latin America kidnapping in all its variety of types are a very valid threat across the country  often very violent with the Express type being very common where the victims are taken to ATM machines immediately to withdraw cash to secure their release .

Violent car jacking at traffic lights or at residence are a daily occurrence as are  mugging specially if strangers are  in the wrong place at the wrong time .

Guns are in easy supply and most criminals are armed and use them freely  the police will use fire arms also   without hesitation and in public crowded areas.

Brazil is also a major drug hub and heavy user of class A drugs which brings about all the predictable dynamics in to the ix for security planner .

The other threat  that lurks under currents is  violent protests many of which were witnessed leading up to the world cup , the Brazilians can and will take to the streets to air their views to the authorities  and sometimes very forcefully .

Uniquely this Olympic also poses major medical  concerns  with various  mosquito born diseases such Zika virus .

The authorities  have been very active of recent to confront the gangs and street criminals in preparations for the games  but given the fact the game offer very rich pickings for all criminal the threats have to be viewed as very much real .

 

In short the security planner has to have a through understanding of high risk urban threats and environments and be prepared accordingly.

avi 2

Bloomberg , SQR group and European security

SQR groups Avi Navama  was interviewed today to by Bloomberg Business .This was in the  aftermath  of Brussels bombing. SQR’s inherent experience based on its long history in military , civilian and national security sectors gives it the authority to make observation on such critical matters and issues.

The interview (click  link)

avi 2

SQR group is one of the leading global security organisation with specialisation in anti terrorism, national infrastructure protection and close protection.

 

active shooter in train station

Active shooter safety advise

active shooter in train station

ACTIVE SHOOTER

Unfortunately there are hundreds of examples of these type of attacks across the globe, while some of the attacks are inspired by political violence, many of the incidents can only be termed civilians on civilians, and they accrue randomly almost anywhere in urban environments, streets, cinemas, concert halls shopping centres and offices they also generally fall outside of preventable or detectable norms.

Everyone must learn a simple set of rules to increase their safety and chance of survival.

 

Movement

 

Run, Hide, Fight

  1. Run

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind (take note of exits when entering a public space)
  • Distance, put as much distance between the shooter and yourself .perpetuates are mostly shooting on the move and don’t have regular training distance equals safety
  • Angle, run at angle this means the shooter has to sweep his weapon to adjust this makes it less likely for him to be accurate.
  • Do not stop to move the injured, it draws attention to you both. Additionally you will present a larger slower moving target.
  • If you are wounded and unable to move stay silent and do not move (play dead) this has saved countless wounded.
    • Leave your belongings behind (hesitations cost lives)
    • Do not run directly at armed police show your hands preferably above your head, shooters are most likely to be dressed in casual everyday cloth just like you, so identify yourself to police if you come into contact.

 

Cover and Concealment

2.Hide

  • Hide in an area out of the active shooter’s view.

Cover should provide you with additional protection e.g. solid objects, solid walls

Concealment hides you but will not necessarily offer protection e.g. advertising   boards and kiosks

Find a combination of both

  • Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors

 

Nowhere to run or hide

  1. Fight

  • Last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the assailant.
  • Act with physical and mental aggression
juggler on tight rope

Close Protection with blindfolds on

Close Protection with blindfolds on

So often the individuals involved in the industry overlook the implications of the wider world events on all aspects of their profession .They seem to live in a self-created bubble that mostly comforts them in the belief that keeping up with physical aspects of the art form is sufficient to deliver them and their clients into a safe zone of their own making!.

The latest guns and body armour or paramilitary accessories seems to dominate conversation and the mental aspect seem to be one of endurance coping with pressure and alertness, all no doubt of great importance.

Never the less the best guns and armour and military attire and speaking in abbreviations will not protect anyone if you have blindfolds on!

Blindfolds addressed here are the lack of interest and in depth knowledge of fast changing world events with bewildering range of consequence on the field. This has many root causes but a close Protection Operative cannot get by with excuses in effect if you can’t tell the difference between various factions be they religious, ethnic or political and at times understanding that they combine and form a front that has defeated large military forces who have played ignorant of them.

In short if you don’t know your Shia from Sunni or have never heard of Wahhabi or Salafism and have never attempted to understand the clan mind set inherent in many Arab countries or think Iranians are Arabs and are in any way confused about difference between Judaism and Zionism or Palestinian issue don’t go to Middle east and if you still think of Turkey as depicted in your holiday brochure and think streets of Europe are not effected by any of the above hang up your hat and stay in.

Indeed if you have no idea why the Ukrainians and Russians are aiming guns at each other stay out of there too for good measure if you don’t understand and care to study the social back ground of your area of operation do yourself and your clients and team mates  a favour and stay home  as the crucial and fundamental part of the work that of  “ threat and risk assessment “ has everything to do with understanding the key triggers in the environments you are going to work and if you don’t get that no amount of military attire ,gung-ho attitude and jargon on the radio is going to protect you .

Poorang