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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.

 

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!

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
lone wolf

Lone Wolf

This is a name given to the type of attack that causes the security professionals with the greatest challenge.

It’s a paradoxical name as wolves generally act in packs. The lone wolf will have only  loose connection to identifiable organisations or persons who pose security threats, he might have been influenced by ideas, individuals or self-generated delusions.

The lone wolf follows no particular pattern in particular though it has been suggested after some study that many suffer from mental and social disorders.

They come from the general population and do not belong to a particular social and racial group.

The lone wolf does not belong to a command structure, he decides and he plans and he carries out the act.

Their motives can be staggeringly varied political, religious, seeking fame or playing out a fantastical delusion based on all of the conceivable motives.

Lone wolf can be a white supremacist, Jihadi or just an angry young man!

This as can be understood very  difficult to detect and responded to in a timely manner in fact luck can be the biggest factor in detecting such individuals, that leaves responding which can only be based on speed , efficiency and dedicated units in the right place and the right time ,here is the element of luck again!

The terrorist groups have not be slow in utilising the lone wolf and very carefully do not connect directly and concentrate on using social media to agitate ,call out for acts or radicalise and praise.

They have had a head start on use of psychological techniques in order to motivate individuals to commit extreme acts of violence on others and on themselves.

They have also manage to create a lone wolf mentality in small groups, where small group will act in complete independence and randomness with almost no tangible association or connection with an identifiable organisation, this is different from the small cell system of old where at least one person in the cell had a veiled connection to an organisation and targets and timing and logistics would be sourced or directed and a leader or a commander could be identified upon examination.

The mass trolling for data and intelligence across all communication networks social and other wise by governments and their agencies is an attempt basically  to get Lucky!

 

UK Security

UK Security dilemma

Russian standpoint in Ukraine and  Baltic, the handover of all operations in Afghanistan to local forces and a  renewed campaign in Iraq to counter ISIS not mention the  deteriorating situation in Libya and Syria have all joined forces to create a challenging scenario for security and policy-makers in UK.

The Russian have made themselves very clear with regards to their redline and have shown the ability to move swiftly and decisively both militarily and politically in defence of their position with regards to Nato’s eastward spread and changing alliances of their former republics.

In Afghanistan UK has to play the waiting game to see if the local forces can  maintain stability and hold their positions and to see if the proxies of its allies in the region  namely Pakistan can reign in its  military’s desire to keep its own clients in the fight.

In Syria the confusing and misguided initial approach in supporting the oppositions before allowing the lessons in Libya to be learnt have created an intense civil war that has acted as feeding ground for a number of terrorist organisation such as ISIS who have created huge problems of their own for the world and in particular in the neighbouring countries.

Libya has transcended in to chaos of various armed militia controlling land, assets and confronting two different governments looking to international recognition.

Sub-Sahara has become a new focal point for violent Islamic radicalism spreading into West African countries such as Nigeria, Mali and others.

The Saudi military adventurism in Yemen along with a few paid for allies has add to this heady mixture of interwoven issues.

The growing refugee crises in the Mediterranean is just a small by product of the above though a tragic one.

The UK position is further complicated by alliances and existing commitments. The fact that must be kept in sharp focus is that UK mainland security is very much dependant on dealing with the underlying causes of these issues.

The questions that need to be asked are these.

Is short term military adventurism driven by political PR opportunity worth the consequences?

Do we have the right allies in the Middle East or is it time to apply some realpolitik in making new friends?

How much of the responsibility the West have to bear for the rise of Islamic extremism?

To befriend the Russian bear or provoke it?

These are just some of the UK Security dilemma facing UK.

Poorang

members of buko haram in training

Terrorist attack is highly likely in UK

MI5 states that the security level in UK is sever.

The impact of foreign policy decisions have seem to enflamed the dangers on the home front further. The complexities of the Middle East conflict have seemed to overtaken the processing powers of the policy makers .The seemingly unexplainable position in arming and training various armed factions with sophisticated weaponry in the shifting sands of loyalties and zigzagging policy positions have clearly increased the risks in UK.

The UK’s position is further undermined by the fact that some of its allies and partners in the region have for some time financed and assisted the hard line Sunni Islam sect that have fuelled ISIS in its atrocities.

Furthermore the same sponsors have been allowed for over two decade to finance their own particular Islamic sects (Wahhabi & Salafi) in UK by Building mosques and appointing Imams to propagate their version of Islam. This has set the scene for birth of Islamic radicalism in UK.

This has led to UK born jihadists and terrorist who not only travel to fight for ISIS but also are the main reason for the UK security level being set to SEVER.

The only way forward is a complete realignment of policies of western powers in the region allied with reappraisal of the origins of security threats and risks in UK.

Murdered Aid Worker

Implications of a murder

The murder of Alan Henning

The 47-year-old taxi-driver from Manchester who was taken hostage last December while on a humanitarian aid convoys to Syria has become the latest victim of ISIS.  His tragic and brutal end has been filmed and used as a gruesome piece of PR.

There are a number of reasons why these murders are made so public but firstly  they  points to an organisation with an eye on influencing domestic and foreign policies of its adversaries and its continued attempt to replace  Al Qaeda as the leading jihadi organisation.

His public murder will no doubt intensify the call for more direct action against the group but many heads of states in the western camp have already promised their countries that they will not commit to ground troop deployment.

Airpower is costly and mostly ineffective against irregular armies such as ISIS so ultimately the question of a large well equipped manned intervention has to be addressed.

Ground troop deployment causes a serious challenge for the coalition members some of whom were pressurised by USA e.g Saudi Arabia, UAE etc   to participate with token and as yet unproven involvement with bombing raids.

On the ground the Kurds are bearing the brunt of the fighting and Iranians have been involved secretly for some time with supplies and reorganisations and front line specialised troops. The Iraqis have mustered their forces with support of Shia militias and have presented a stronger front.

ISIS seem to have an active policy to confront the west directly as soon as possible no doubt sensing that various deals being struck behind the scenes might affect their long term strength, for example a possible arrangement with the Syrian regime by the west.

The British prime minster has spoken of generational fight and Americans have spoken of degrading and then destroying the group as a long term strategy but time might not be on the side of the west if as predicted a revenge terrorist attack is carried out by ISIS or their sympathisers  in Europe or USA.

In such a situation the pressure for the west to put ground troops into action may be too much to bear.