Most Fear Latin America

In his article for “Security Management”, Matthew Harwood informs us that Security Directors and other executives view Latin America to be the riskiest region in the world.

This is quite telling when you consider this means that Latin America ranks higher for risk in their minds than the Middle East. On “Mad Money” this evening, Jim Cramer spoke about the huge upside potential that Columbia holds for investors.

According to Cramer, Columbia could have more potential than Brazil, which has been regarded as the “jewel in the crown” of emerging markets. A new focus on countries such as Columbia by corporate executives could spell an opportunity for security consultants and executive protection agents alike.

Saudi Prince is Almost Killed Trying to Rehabilitate Al-Qaeda Suicide Bomber

This is an amazing story by Frank Gardner, a BBC security correspondent.

Recent events in Saudi Arabia shows that Al Qaeda are more than ever seeking to “up the ante” and push the envelope.

Just when the airline industry thought they had covered every feasible avenue of concealment – along comes the bad guys with a way to digest a bomb, making themselves quite literally, A WALKING TIME BOMB.

Another thing that this attempted assasination in Jeddah of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef teaches us, is that Al Qaeda are not focusing solely on Western Capitalists. To those out there working with Middle Eastern clients and Principals – be extremely vigilant.

Just because someone appears to come from the Middle East, does not mean they are not planning to inflict serious injuries on your Principal. Apart from how it may effect your livelihood and your very life, how damaging would it be for a Saudi Royal family member to be attacked…not even killed, but attacked while visitng the U.S.?

That is why our Institute teaches the importance of Predictive Profiling as opposed to Racial Profiling. This will have more relevance now than ever before with the prevalence of Middle Eastern clients visiting the U.S. and other destinations and needing a security team ready to react to any and all threats.

Security professionals need to immerse themselves in all of the latest trends and incidents – electronic equipment, political, cultural, religious, etc. To be in the top few percent, you need to be aware of everything that can help and hurt your client/principal.

For those of us in the security profession – congratulations, you have a “job for life”. Continue to train and develop as a specialist as you are in a unique position – you are in a field that is literally recession-proof.

The bad guys will always continue to be bad and the world will always need good guys to protect those in society who are in need of protection. As Col. Dave Grossman is famous for saying; “There will always be wolves looking to prey on the innocent lambs. Our job is to be the “sheep dog”.

We are there to keep vigilant watch. Never let your guard down as there may be a “wolf” standing by to take advantage.

U.S. Consulate in Northern Mexico attacked with guns and grenade

The motive for last week’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Mexico is being investigated but there is still no clear cut reason for the unprovoked attack.

The attack had more in common with what we have come to expect in Iraq than from just below the Southern States of the U.S. News of the attack is making me think more about the article I read in one of the Gulf papers here in the Middle East a couple of days ago.

The article read; “Mexican workers leave the U.S. disllusioned with the American Dream”. The story, like so many others these days, focused on the worsening U.S. economy. That made me think; could a returning mexican worker have launched the attack on the embassy due to his frustration at not being able to do as well as he had expected North of the border?

I hope for Mexcio’s sake this is not the case. Mexico’s dangerous crime rate is already a concern for many people deciding where to go to spend their holiday dollars.

In this current economic climate, visitors need to be encouraged and given a reason to spend their hard earned money in your country, not made to feel like targets.

Don’t put your foot in it, Mr. President

Watching the beginning of the Olympics, I was surprised to see the way President Bush was sitting.

The First Lady was on one side of him (thankfully) and a Chinese looking gentleman was on the other side. The President had his right foot resting on his left knee, thereby exposing his shoe sole. That is a huge “no no” in Asia and the Middle East.

As I said, thankfully the First Lady, Laura Bush was the recipient of the President’s sole-waving but it made me wonder if he changed legs at a later stage and “flashed” the Chinese official. I figure it was a high ranking official or else he would hardly be sat next to the President of the United States.

What has this to do with security? It is one of the topics we teach to our budding bodyguards during our intensive Executive Protection course in the United States and abroad. You could have a very successful business meeting or trip, either overseas or at home, but ruin it by insulting (albeit unintentionally)a foreign guest. It is very important for those wroking around forein nationals to be aware of their customs and traditions.

This is not that difficult these days with all of the materials available. One of the best books I have found is; “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands”. This book and others like it, will advise the reader on the correct course of action to take when dealing with people from a host of different countries. Not that I expect the President to read the book, afterall, he must have Protocol officers to keep an eye on him. My question is, were they brought to China?

For the rest of us who are not lucky enough to have our own Protocol officers to keep us out of trouble, we’ll just have to read the book.

What do High School Killers and Terrorists Have in Common?

Department of Homeland Security studies show that the Columbine High School killers and the Virginia Tech gunman planned those attacks using the same techniques used by terrorists.

The study talks about the “7 steps” that terrorists take prior to executing an attack. The steps begin with; Surveillance, Acquiring information, Testing security, Acquiring supplies, Appearance of being “out of place”, Test run and putting everything into position for the planned attack/strike.

Is there much that ordinary civilians can do to thwart a Terrorist attack or High School killing spree? The answer is; MOST DEFINITELY. DHS advises that 25 possible school attacks have been prevented this year so far, due to attentive citizens noticing something that seemed unusual and then reporting it to Law Enforcement.

We should not be reluctant to report suspicious persons or circumstances. Every once in a while the media will run a story about a suspicious package being left behind in a taxi or public place. Many people will be afraid to report something like that in case it turns out to be a hoax. BUT YOU SHOULD REPORT IT, NEVERTHELESS. That “hoax” might very well be a “test/dry run” by terrorists to see if what they leave behind will be detected, or how long it will take to be reported. The terrorist/bad guy will most likely be timing the reponse as well.

Those of us who travel regularly can tell you how long an unattended backpack or shopping bag would be allowed to sit unattended in London or parts of the Middle East. A Police officer would never get angry at having to respond because; 1)they are happy to see it does not contain a life threatening device (that would threaten their life as well as the lives of the general public) and 2)they know that one day it will be the real thing and when that time arrives, they will be glad of the practice and the fact that the public are helping them to identify danger.

In these dangerous times, we should never forget that we are all in this together. There is no room for complacancy. Just because you think you are safe and on holiday – remember what happened in Bali. If you think you are safe because you are in a secured facility or an Embassy overseas, remember Oklahoma and the countless Embassies and Consulates where deadly attacks are becomming a daily occurance.

If something doesn’t look or feel right to you, there is a reason that you feel that way. Like the animals in the jungle, we are able to sense fear/danger in order to assist us with survival. The next time you report a suspicious activity, the life you save just might be your own.

Danger in Dubai?

Those who come to Dubai could be forgiven for thinking that this is an Oasis in a peaceful desert. In reality though, they would do well to remember that this Oasis is located in the middle of a volatile region.

I came to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates a week ago to promote an International Executive Protection course that we are holding here later in the summer. While it is true that most citizens in the U.A.E. are law abiding, there is potential here for opportunists to turn that around. Anyone who spends anytime here, especially in the vicinity of Dubai, will see that it is an extremely wealthy area.

I was talking to an ex-pat business man last night at dinner and he made the comment that a friend of his could not get the attention of the Valets at a local club recently because he was “only driving a Porsche 911″. The valets were too busy finding premium parking spots for the Bentleys, Aston Martins and Ferraris. This is why Sexton Executive Security is opening an office in the U.A.E. We believe it is only a matter of time before cunning criminals realize how much money they could make from kidnappings, stealing luxury cars/chop shops and a host of other crimes.

Then yesterday morning something else happened. One of the Embassies released a terrorist alert warning for the U.A.E. Despite the fact that this is the Middle East, alerts like this are not common. Afteralll, this is a shopper’s paradise where vistors can spend thousands of dollars on a hotel suite for the night. Now we have begun to compile a list of Executive Protection Specialists with current passports who are available for International assignments.

Don’t let the bright lights fool you. This is not Kansas Dorothy. Keep your eyes open and like they used to say on Hill Street Blues; “let’s be careful out there.”

The power of communication.

I think many of us fail to realize the extreme importance of communicating in a way that ensures we are understood.When I was working for the United Nations in different countries around the world, I would often be told by other UN staff that they were surprised that they could actually understand what I was saying. Apparently, they had met other Irish and could only understand a few words here and there. That was easy for me to understand. As the Deputy and later Chief of the United Nation’s Special Investigation Unit, it was of the utmost importance that people could understand me. Imagine questioning a person who was facing deportation back to their country for an alleged crime. It would be unfair to them if I didn’t make my self understood, even if it meant that I had to slow down my fast Irish speech and leave out the Irish slang words (that very few people around the world can ever understand).

I was in Dublin last weekend, passing through on my way to the Middle East. The big topic was the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty. It seems that the country was fairly evenly divided by those who were; voting yes, voting no, did not know. I wasn’t that terribly sure what it was all about so I asked my sister and her husband. They had to admit that the whole thing was rather unclear and that the Politicians didn’t do a great job of explaining. Then I met up with my brother. He too was not 100% about the importance of a “yes” or “no” vote. I got the impression that Ireland might lose their National identity if they voted “yes”, so I left thinking that “no” was the way to go.

Apparently the rest of Ireland thought so too, as I am sitting in my hotel room in Dubai listening to the BBC and Sky news talking about the after effects of Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon treaty. That got me thinking. The only time we really ever had any problems with a client involved communicating, or a lapse on somebody’s part. It is amazing how large the repercussions can be when you are talking about a whole country. Next time you are involved in a negotiation, remember the Lisbon treaty and make sure you know what is at stake. You could be avoiding a costly mistake.