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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.

 

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!

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

 

isel flag

Call it by its name! ISIS,ISEL,Dayesh ?

Call it by its name!

The ongoing issue of what to call ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), ISEL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)or Dayesh (Arabic name “in the plural form ‘Dayesh’  means bigots who impose their views on others.”  )

Dayesh is the name used in the region to describe this organisation , it was also adopted by US military, French government and Australians. The British and many international news media however seem to be reluctant to use this and insist on using the various version that include Islamic and state as adjectives!

However we are beginning to see in UK first signs from the governmental level in the way the organisation is referred to.

This change of approach is the first sign of multi-level approach to counter the organisation who are very media aware and effective in manipulating press and social media.

For this approach to work the international media and social media organisations need to play their parts.

More importantly the governments need to be clear where the traditional source of support and finance have been for this organisation and bring to bear pressures and more importantly make hard choices as to who to formulate new alliances with in the region the USA seem to have made some choice on this level by their tentative conversation with the Iranians who were one of the first in the region to confront this organisation and its brothers in arm.

The public campaign that must be waged has to start with naming the source of the ideology that has been the driving force behind this terrorist organisation which are the  Wahhabi and Salafi sects of Islam which are the dominant and state sponsored in Saudi Arabia and some of the small states in the Persian gulf region .

Poorang

paris

French face a security dilemma

The French government have maintained a high security level for some time and given concern regarding some French nationals of Muslim faith travelling to fight or having strong sympathies with Jihadi sentiments especially since the rise of ISIS one must assume that a lot of energy has been directed at monitoring sections of the Muslim community.

An update by French intelligence  authorities advises that France has stopped five terror attacks and brokenup 13 networks linked to extremists in Syria despite this the  number of young people travelling to Syria has increased sharply.

This weekend  we have had to witness at least 13 people being injured, some seriously, after the driver of a car targeted passers-by in various parts of city of Dijon.

According to witnesses he was shouting to the effect that he was acting in support for the “children of Palestine” during his attacks that lasted over 30 min. There has been report of the driver having had mental problems .

The day before another man, stabbed three policemen in town of Joue-les-Tours after shouting Islamic slogans the 20-year-old attacker was shot dead at the scene.

Radical Islamic is thought to be behind the attacks but it seems that there were no clear links between the attackers.There has been other attacks similar to this using vehicles in England, Scotland recently in Israel and now in France.

What makes such acts so difficult to counter is that they are random, acted out by individuals with no direct links to organisations and they have previously not displayed any serious signs of being radicalised.   

The main difficulty for the authorities is a to admit publicly that there are no effective security measures against un associated  random acts of terror, especially if the perpetrators have no direct links with any recognised organisations.

Surveillance and intelligence are the key weapons to counter act any terrorist act but the nature of these acts make an impossible demand of even the most in-depth and intrusive surveillance and intelligence gathering methods.

 

 

 

poorang

“ISIS” an ongoing danger

The air campaign is fast expanding beyond Iraq to various targets in Syria .The target list into Syria compromises of a wish list by number of western governments who due to internal security considerations give different priority to different militant groups.

The introduction of yet another militant group e.g the so called Khorasan network in the mix is yet another example of the multiple fragmented groups that operate under various umbrella groups.

The participation of the certain Arab countries in the bombing is a PR exercise to appease the USA & deflect the growing security relationship between America and their main regional rival Iran.

This will however cause internal issues at home for countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have been given material and moral support to the militant jihadi movements such ISIS.

Turkey has stayed away from the limelight in recent developments as it continues to underscore its policies of stablishing itself as the Sunni Muslim world leader and to deflect the Jihadi attention by supporting their activities in Iraq and Syria.

The question of so called boots on the ground is hotly debated across media outlets on both side of the Atlantic this however is an academic questions as boots have been on the ground for some time in the shape of Special Forces and advisors.

The offshoot of the bombing of the operational capital of ISIS in Syria the City of Raqqa and other militant targets amounts to military assistance to the Syrian regime in its fight in the civil war, though this is not a declared policy it must be part of the calculations within the military HQs responsible for the operation, this may even have been part of the political barraging chips in negotiations with Syria and Iran.

Events will unfold both on our screens and behind closed doors but given the regional complexities all involved will find their security objectives achievable only by reassessing long held strategic alliances.

Ultimately the real judgment as to the success and failure of the campaign against ISIS is whether it will succeed to expand and indeed survive and be prevented in carrying out an attack against the west as it clearly intends to .

 

 

 

 

 

poorang

Confronting fear

Execution
The recent execution of another innocent man by ISIS is more than just a display of brutality for its own sake and the pronounced demand from USA to cease its air campaign.

This act is as old as the warfare itself it is one of the oldest weapons to use against your enemy its the weapon of fear . Its aim is to underscore its strength with sheer brutality and to ignite within the recipient of the message one of the key emotional triggers that all humans share” Fear”.

Among its audience are all sections of our society our political leaders, our selves and maliciously the very fabric of our multicultural societies in the west.

Its aim is not to deter an attack but the opposite It is designed to enrage and engage us violently.

It at once makes us aware of our differences and makes us frighten of each other.

There are no easy way out of this scenario it demands of USA and its western allies to challenge their long held friendships with Saudi Arabia, Qatar among others. Can the west turn a blind eye as it did during its war with the Taliban and allow its Arab allies to fund and support its enemies on the ground in order to maintain social cohesion in their own country.
The recent meetings with Arab leaders by John Kerry will do very little to inhibit their support in real terms .

The Nato member Turkey is by no means innocent in this matter and its sees its involvement in Syria and Iraq as a part of strategic positioning to become a regional power broker. (it has been a major supporter of militias and armed opposition of all shades in particular the fundamentalist groups )

Iran’s role as regional power and the first to send in supplies and specialist and ground attack air crafts to fight ISIS and collaborate with USA albeit secretly must give a hint as to where future meaningful engagement should lie .

The politicians in the west need to learn to look fear in the face and make difficult decision . That there are no alternatives to boots on the ground and that a revision of its alliances in the region is inevitable as in the case of Assad, if ISIS is to be defeated then Assad needs to be treated as an ally in this campaign for it is in Syria that this war will be lost or won not in Iraq.

Nato Summit

Nato summit a potential target

With upcoming Nato summit in Cardiff Wales on 4th Sep and the stiffening of attitude against ISIS the UK’s international threat level has officially been increased to substantial that indicates a  strong possibility of an attack.

The concerns have been underscored by the recent showing of a Jihadi recruitment video featuring Nasser Muthana, and his younger brother Aseel both from Cardiff. The young brothers travelled secretly to Join ISIS.

In Cardiff what has been referred to as a ring of steel has been set up featuring Hostile Vehicle Mitigation a counter measure against vehicle borne threats , a steel fence measuring 2.5 kilometres surrounding Cardiff Castle which is site of the Nato Summit and a 1000 meter fence around Cardiff bay .

With up to 28 heads of states, foreign ministers and defence chiefs expected it can be seen why the event is a potential target for any group seeking maximum impact from terror operation.

The summit will be the place where recent developments to ISIS is discussed and responses developed this will also be the occasion where USA will directly put pressure on its allies to participate in short and long term strategies against global Jihadi movement led increasingly by ISIS.

 

poorang

A state or a terrorist group

The unconfirmed reports that ISIS or IS (Islamic state) as they like to be called now days has issued its own passport  begs another question, who in the international community will recognise them and will accept this documents?

The tempo and nature of response to ISIS is rapidly changing, the Americans weary of being the only responders to the crises have successfully urged various security partners to become involved.

First among them has been  the UK who initially responded with caution and even stated their reluctance to commit militarily but have now seen their prime minster making  very strong statements which will be the prelude to combat units being deployed, these initially will be special forces personnel who will be tasked with reconnaissance, intelligence and most immediately with target acquisition for the combat aircrafts, a task made important by the nature of ISIS tactics.

Even though ISIS has captured a large amount of heavy weaponry during its initial advances and has in its ranks trained soldiers and officers from Syrian  and Iraqi armies who can operate the systems it has not put the heavier weaponry into regular use and It remains largely a light mobile force that has exploited the vast undefended spaces it has move into. Sunni Muslim sympathies in the area has also assisted their advances.

More modern weaponry is being delivered to Kurdish fighters who are already beginning to feel the benefit of air support by USA. This has resulted in ISIS issuing direct threats to UK and USA and the UK prime minster advising of new measures against their supporters in UK and beyond.

The newly appointed Iraqi prime minister has been given a breathing space to make amends for the previous administration’s mistakes and a chance to mobilise the army to start making a concentrated effort to capture lost territory.

ISIS has initially benefited from the convictions of its followers and the vigour this generated in combat but is beginning to experience stiffer resistance from the Kurds who are now defending their own territories. The brutality that ISIS has inflicted on other minorities and the members of the majority Shia will undoubtedly stiffen resistance to them in future fights on the ground. There are growing signs of Tribes men turning their guns on the ISIS, their involvement proved critical in fights against Jihadi insurgency in the past.

The Spector of ISIS and the Nusra Front(Al Qaeda proxy in Syria) fighting each other in Syria as they settle the power struggle to lead the global Jihadi movement and secret collaboration between the USA and IRAN certainly makes this an interesting area for security analysts the world over.

It remains to be seen if behind the door pressures applied to the alleged sponsors of the ISIS will bear any effects or will further cool the relationship between the west and the countries accused of funding and nurturing them such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.

It is certainly a matter of time that a major terror incident with the stamp of approval of ISIS in the west takes place, this will be the response to the west’s military actions against them and the next step in replacing Al Qaeda as standard bearer in Jihadi movement. The beheading of American journalist James Foley today (August 19th 2014) must be seen as a prelude of things to come.