Britishambassador Geoffrey Jackson spent nine months in a Tupamaro detention cell inUruguay; General James Dozier was heldfor 42 days by the Red Brigades in Italy; American ambassador Diego Ascenciospent 61 days in a barricaded embassy with M-19 revolutionaries, whileColombian security forces discussed how to end the situation.
Didsecurity procedures fail in these hostage situations?
Securityspecialists all over the world are continually re-examining the significantstandard operational procedures of our profession. Are these proceduresworking? Are they working well?
Are theyworking at all?
How Are WeDoing?
In thesecurity profession, we claim that crime can be prevented. At the very least,we claim to lower its rate of incidence. Security executives can point to manysuccesses – bottom line trends in budget summaries where red ink hasdisappeared and black ink reflects acceptable profit margins, for instance.
In protectingsuch physical assets as money, buildings and inventories, we do an outstandingjob. How well then, do we function when we attempt to protect our most valuableassets – the human resources who make our organizations work?
Manysecurity executives have succeeded in protecting key employees; others havefailed miserably – indicated by the large number of business personnel takenhostage. In fact, 48% of all terrorists’ hostages are businessmen (Russell,1986). The failures also appear in the corporate ledgers when companies paymillions of dollars to terrorist extortionist:
1 TheFirestone Corporation paid $3 million in Argentina.
1 The ExxonCompany paid $14.2 million in Argentina.
1 TheGoodyear Company paid $10 million in Guatemala.
1 The AmocoCompany paid $3 million in Argentina (Scotti, 1986).
Manywestern businessmen, engineers, technicians and executives have to leave therelative safety of urban life in western or even developing nations to travelto remote areas at great distances from military or police aid. Certainly theseprofessionals have a much higher risk level than the well-protected executivein a company armoured car with lead and follow-up vehicles.
In somecases, too, the business itself may be controversial – oil, gas, mineral,rubber, and fruit companies have terrible reputations, and it doesn’t matterthat these reputations were developed in the 1920s and 1930s, they still exist.
In manyhostage takings, the terrorists simply want to stop all economic development:they want people poor, starving, and needy; they want and need hungry peopledemanding their `rights’ through revolutionary turmoil.
What theauthorities say about avoiding terror
In his bookExecutive Safety and International Terrorism, Anthony J. Scotti argues that thegreatest single factor in reducing an executive’s vulnerability to terrorism isfor the executive to take active security precautions (1986).
CharlesRussell, in his chapter Kidnapping as a terrorist tactic for Brian M. Jenkins’book Terrorism and Personal Protection, reviewed some 181 kidnap cases beforecompleting his analysis. Russell stated unequivocally that: «In the vastmajority of all cases, victims failed to exercise even elementary securitypractices.»
He alsoestimated that if standardized security practices had been followed: «Thenumber of abductions probably would have been cut by 50 to 70%.»
«It’simportant to remember that [terror] groups collect information on a number ofpossible targets before selecting the one they will attack. If you make itdifficult to collect information on your assets, you will decrease theprobability of an attack,» (Seger, 1990).
Joe Flynn,author of The Design of Executive Protection Systems (1979) worked carefully todesign effective security programs and countermeasures. He recognized that:»Absolute safety is non-attainable therefore most security systemsrepresent a conscious effort to create safe havens in which the executive canbe expected to enjoy maximum safety.»
In speakingto executives, Neal Livingstone stated that: «Good personal securitydepends chiefly on how you choose to live your life. It involves anticipatingproblems before they happen and reducing your vulnerabilities. In the finalanalysis your goal should be to out-think terrorists and criminals not try tooutshoot them. If you live a prudent life and avoid routines, you willsignificantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of violence,»(1989).
How Will ItAffect Your Life?
Executivescan significantly lower the probability of becoming victims if they obey reasonablesecurity rules and become more security conscious:
1- Safe havencan be designed.
2- Securityprograms can be implemented.
3- Personalprotection teams can be employed.
4-Technologically advanced security systems can be installed at homes, officesand in automobiles. But:
«It is not necessary to make massivechanges in your lifestyle. Modest changes and a continuing awareness ofpotential vulnerability can substantially reduce the possibilities of becominga target of a criminal (or terror) confrontation,» (Cole, 1980).
In many UScrime surveys, the data indicates that risks can be lowered by thoughtfulpeople. A study by the San Francisco group, Community United Against Violence,showed that in their community just walking with one other person reduced therisk by 67%, and that two or more companions reduced it 90% (Castleman, 1984).
Terroristsoperate just as any good company would if it were about to enter into abusiness venture. Just as a company wants to be assured of success, so do terrorists:
1- Theyconduct a feasibility study;
2- Selecttheir final target;
3- Do theirhomework – i.e.: make a thorough surveillance, sometimes over a period ofmonths;
4- And makea «daring daylight attack,» as the press often puts it. In fact, it wasnot a daring attack at all, merely the result of good research, competentplanning and a complacent and therefore vulnerable target.
Researchobviously pays: terrorists go into an operation with a high probability ofsuccess because they have chosen the target, the time and method of attack -«Research is the basic reason why terror operations are often sosuccessful,» (Scotti, 1986).
A BasicKidnap Avoidance Program
The first step in kidnap avoidance is torealize that not all security authority can be delegated.
Theexecutive is responsible for his own security.
While theexecutive may employ a well-trained personal protection team, th
e personalprotection specialists will not help if the executive doesn’t listen to them.
«Thecardinal rule is to listen to what your bodyguards have to say.
«Anyreal communication is an art form requiring listening skills. Securityspecialists do little good if the executive refuses to practice reasonablesecurity. Obstinacy in dealing with security professionals certainly increasesrisk – it can even get you kidnapped or killed.
«The“can do” attitude normally applied to business risks is not the way to approachpersonal risk.
«Toprotect yourself against kidnapping, you will have to incorporate work habitsthat may not be in the best interests of the company or you personally,»(Scotti, 1986).
Whether anexecutive uses a protective team or not, he’s still responsible for dailyschedules, personal lifestyles – and often, security philosophies. Anacceptable approach to security in dangerous times and dangerous locations cansave lives – maybe yours, or if you are in the security profession, the life ofyour principal.
Thesecurity program is weakened considerably if the protected executive is notcontinually involved. After indoctrinating a trained personnel protection team,the security director needs to ensure that the executive, the `principal’, andthe protection team train together. The executive should know and understandthe particular method and technique that will be used in his program.
«Inthis business, as in so many other aspects of life, the difference betweensuccess and failure often lies in the preparation.
«Preparationis more than a state of mind – it’s a statement of the ability to respond, andmeans the creation and maintenance of the means to frustrate their (theterrorists’) designs and bring them to book. This can be an expensive business,but not so costly as the failure to take these measures might prove tobe,» (Cooper and Redlinger, 1988).
Officestaff, secretaries, receptionists, telephone exchange personnel and travelclerks must also be briefed on their responsibilities. Butlers, maids,chauffeurs, wives and children also have specific crime avoidance and kidnapavoidance responsibilities.
Secretaries,receptionists, travel clerks and children have all in-, advertently helped `setthe trap’ for their executive.
Thetelephone is always a direct, intelligence-gathering method, used by terroriststo discover an executive’s schedule. Learning where he will or won’t be is animportant step in the terror planning scheme, and business associates, staffand family members must always be trained in appropriate telephone responses.
«Perhapsthe biggest deficiency in terrorist defense planning and crisis managementcomes in the training of new personnel. When a defense plan is initiallyadopted, there’s usually sufficient enthusiasm and commitment to ensure awell-trained team. As people are promoted, transferred and replaced, however,large gaps can develop in the defense plan’s organization or personnel,»(Boltz, Dudonis, Schulz, 1990).
A Play withFour Acts
Authoritieshave carefully studied the kidnapping process and have concluded that there arefour distinguishable stages. These stages are normally separated in time,occurring sequentially over an extended period, and are applicable to almostevery crime, not just kidnapping although in a robbery or rape some stages mayoccur simultaneously.
But thesestages always occur, and knowing their sequence can give a potential victimsome room for reaction -and can give the security specialist the knowledge ofwhat to look for, and how best to avoid the final assault.
SURVEILLANCE- is the first step involved in the terror attack: it always occurs.Counter-terror units all over the world have seized intelligence files fromterrorist offices and safe houses indicating extensive surveillance ofparticular targets, followed by concrete planning, specific training, andon-site practice.
Terroristsare very egotistical: they feel that they must be successful. They want to showpower and influence over an impotent government, want all of their operationsto be `public knowledge’ and widely discussed in the print, audio, andtelevised media. To fail is unthinkable hence the need for preparation.
Terrorplanning is preceded by an active survey of a principal’s lifestyle, schedule,and security program, which will include both fixed and mobile surveillanceefforts that may be constant or intermittent.
«Evenif you have been picked as a potential target, you still have an excellentchance of not being selected as the final target,» (my italics Scotti, 1986).
Intermittentor timed counter-surveillance on the principal should detect the terrorists’surveillance.
Anddetection of surveillance is the strongest indicator of all that you are beingconsidered for an attack.
Detectingthe surveillance lowers the risk considerably. You may now react, makingsignificant lifestyle and scheduling changes – you can even place the terroriston the defensive:
1- If theprincipal was once punctual, he should now always be either late or early -while being punctual infrequently, to continue to force the terrorists intore-evaluating their target.
2- Predictableschedule should always be altered. If the principal plays golf, has lunch orgoes to church at set, particular times, this schedule must be altered. Andperhaps a different restaurant, golf club or house of worship can be visited.Again, this will certainly intimidate, if not destroy, any mobile or fixedsurveillance focused on the principal.
3- Theprincipal may also switch “pool” cars; stop using a distinctive sedan; usedifferent colored vehicles of similar manufacture, and use different cars ondifferent days – even different cars on the same day. This really impedessurveillance.
The terrorattack planning process may now be dropped, and another principal selected. Butif you fail to notice the surveillance, or fail to take any action even thoughyou have noticed it . . .
The Britishambassador to Uruguay, Geoffrey Jackson, noticed that a different couple andchild, driving the same motor scooter, were almost constantly picnicking at apark in front of his home. He and his staff knew they were being watched andthat they were being followed on motor scooters and in automobiles, but theydid nothing about it . . . He was held for nine months during his kidnap.
GeneralDozier and his police bodyguard never perceived that they were undersurveillance . . .
RobertChapman, a CIA security officer for 27 years and author of the Crimson Web ofTerror, says: «I know of no case where the victim detected his routesurveillance and reported it to the authorities,» (Kobetz, 1991). If ahigh profile principal ‘detects surveillance, the authorities must be promptlynotified.
1 AN“INVITATION” – is the second stage. It’s a delaying technique, designed todistract the intended victim to get him to stop .
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Theinvitation is a pretext and the first step in a terror trap:
1-«Can you tell me where the Smith Building is located?» a ‘tourist’may ask . . .
2- A bummay ask for a cigarette or a dollar . . .
3- A man ina suit may ask for a match . . .
The idea isalways the same: to delay or distract the victim. And once the victim slowsdown or stops, the trap’s set and the confrontation begins.
Actualterror invitations have included staged traffic accidents, or an attractivewoman feigning an automobile malfunction. In the Hans Martin Schleyer case, ababy carriage was pushed in front of the principal’s car.
By beingaware and observant, a potential victim – or the security specialist – can beforewarned, if only by moments. Even as the invitation stage develops, as theabductor or the abductor team approaches the principal, there’s still anopportunity to react professionally. This is when vigilance will be repaid;when you can still escape harm, captivity or death. But within moments, anescape attempt may be impossible, or life threatening.
RobertChapman recorded: «In an overwhelming number of cases, a terrorist ambushwas completed in one minute or less,» (Kobetz, 1991).
So youdon’t have time to delay: respond quickly and vigorously by leaving the scene. Byrefusing to act predictably, the principal can elude an assassination orkidnapping, but if the principal was not observant, if the surveillance was notnoticed and the process develops to the invitation stage, then theconfrontation will follow.
In arobbery, rape, or assault, it will occur almost simultaneously with theinvitation stage. In a terror assault, the stages are usually distinguishableand separated by time and momentum.
1 THECONFRONTATION STAGE – is much more dangerous than the invitation stage, becausethe active assault is only moments away.
You can still evade capture, however, if youknow the rules and keep your wits, especially if you are in a car.
1 If youare stuck in a traffic jam, you can sometimes run away on foot;
1 If yourcar is properly armoured, it should be able to take direct hits from evenhigh-powered firearms;
1 If you(or your chauffeur) have had the training, you can use defensive drivingtechniques, such as high-speed 180° turns, to get out of trouble;
1 And as alast resort, you can ram a roadblock, run over a curb and drive down a pavement- a move which is certainly dangerous to other vehicles, drivers, andpedestrians, but which might save your life.
1 THEATTACK STAGE – is the last stage.
«Duringthe attack stage, especially if the assailant has a weapon, an all-outresistance is foolhardy and possibly even fatal,» (Castleman).
The realityis that most bodyguards are killed during the assault; that drivers have frozenin fear. One driver was known to open his door, leave it open, and flee -leaving his principal exposed and vulnerable in an armour-plated car thatshould have withstood the assault.
Thisprincipal delegated his security to a chauffeur, and to the advanced technologyof a very expensive armour-plated car: the latter advantage was totallyeliminated by cowardice or pay-off.
«Kidnappingscan occur anywhere you are not adequately protected. Terrorists will kidnap youwhen and where the risk is lowest,» (Scotti, 1986).
«Thefact of the matter is that a carefully crafted protection program reliesprimarily on preventative measures rather than on quick reactions at the momentof attack. Risk reduction is at the heart of every good personal protectionprogram.» (Wurth,1985).
«Youmay never be able to change the heart and mind of a terrorist, but you can gethim to focus on another principal: you can get him to look in another directionentirely, because you are too `hard’ or too difficult. Preventing a terroristattack may be impossible; shifting the focus of the attack is attainable.»(Boltz, Dudonis, Schulz, 1990).
May youever be prepared to take any advantage!
Asencio,Diego – Our Man Is Inside. Brown & Company, 1982.
Boltz, Jr.,Frank; Dudonis, Kenneth J. and Schulz, David P. The Counter-Terrorism Handbook:Tactics, Procedures and Techniques. Elsevier, 1990.
Castleman,Michael – Crime Free. Simon and Schuster, 1984.
Chapman,Robert A. and Chapman, Lester H – A Crimson Web of Terror. Paladin Press 1980.
Cole,Richard – Executive Security: A Corporate Guide To Effective Response toAbduction and Terrorism. Wiley Interscience,1980.
Cooper,H.H.A, and Redlinger, Lawrence J – Catching Spies: Principles and Practices ofCounterespionage. Paladin Press, 1988.
Flynn, Joe- The Design of Executive Protection Systems. Thomas Publishers, 1979.
Kobetz,Richard W – Providing Executive Protection. Executive Protection Institute,1991.
Livingstone,Neal C – The Complete Security Guide For Executives. Lexington Books, 1989.
Russell,Charles – Kidnapping As A Terrorist Tactic, as found in Terrorism and PersonalProtection, edited by Brian M. Jenkins. Butterworth Publishers, 1985.
Scotti,Anthony J – Executive Safety and International Terrorism. Prentice-Hall, Inc.,1986.
Seger, KarlA – The Anti-terrorism Handbook. Presidio Press, 1990.
Wurth, DonE – The Proper Function And Use of the Private Sector Bodyguard, as found inTerrorism and Personal Protection, edited by Brian M. Jenkins. ButterworthPublishers, 1985.