The challenges for protecting Public Figures- The Macron Incident

The latest incident with French President Emmanuel Macron being slapped by someone in the crowd has once again fired up the keyboard warriors who take any incident (video or picture) such as this and claim how improperly the EP team functioned and what would they have done differently and, of course, be more successful. As a Greek proverb says ‘’Whoever is outside the dance (floor), can sing many songs’’ Meaning: It is easy to talk about something when you are not the one involved in it. 

As security practitioners, we must be very careful what we say online, keeping in mind, whatever you post online stays online even if you delete it minutes later. We should not criticize security details and/or the people involved because we do not know all the facts, details, limitations and the full story. When you post a comment on a 10-second video, you may not have the full story. You do not know what happened before or after the incident. What you see in a photo may not be the full picture. It doesn’t make you any more ‘’professional’’ when you try to spot the wrong moves in an incident where you weren’t involved and you do not know all the parameters: you are just assuming.

In this case, we heard many opinions:

‘’Why didn’t they keep standard formation?’’- How can you keep standard formation when your principal is anticipating close interaction with a member of the crowd? Greeting lines are extremely tedious and are one of the most difficult situations to read and provide protection.

‘’The reaction time was slow.’’- The reaction time always seems to be slower when you see an incident on a video over and over again rather than being involved with it in real-time in the field.

‘’They were lucky he wasn’t holding a knife.’’ – Actually someone did their job well and made sure he (or anyone else in the crowd) wasn’t holding a weapon. What most fail to understand is that these crowds are previously checked for anything that can be used as a weapon.

‘’Why didn’t they saw that coming?’’ – They don’t teach ESP at EP schools…

‘’Why didn’t someone teach Macron?’’ – Most protectees won’t sit down and learn from you about protection, they want you to protect them. It’s not their job to know how to do yours…Why do you think you’re employed?

Now let’s address some challenges for protecting public figures and try to make some rational sense of all of this.

Protecting people whose identity depends on the public, such as politicians, in this case, is very much different than protecting a C-Suite executive for example. A politician needs the interaction with public. They shake hands, hug, get pictures with and celebrate with large crowds. Having people like them is what makes people vote for them, and they need to look and act quite approachable to everyone in order to gain votes. If they don’t get the votes, well, then they no longer hold their current political position. They have to attend gatherings and events and most of those functions may be outside of your span of control regarding organizing it. You have to provide services as best as you can with what you have and minimize whatever limitations you can. 

In this case ‘’the unknown crowd’’ is the issue. The ‘’crowd’’ provides a good opportunity for the enemy to blend in, act and even escape in some cases. Also, as most public appearances are preplanned and announced, the enemy has the time to be prepared for the attack. And when we say attack, let’s clarify that “attack on your principal” is not only an assassination or physical harm but also an attack on his/her personality, reputation or by causing embarrassment. 

While most EP training schools focus only on physical attacks, have in mind causing embarrassing situations may be something your principal is particularly vulnerable and endangered by, thus it is something you must be prepared to prevent. Making sure the crowd has been checked for anything that can be used as a weapon doesn’t mean you are safe from an embarrassing situation. Paying attention to people’s hands and what they are carrying doesn’t mean you can be sure about the intention of a handshake. A handshake can become a pat on the shoulder or a slap on the face. How would you know the intentions of the handshake and act within 2 seconds to prevent it? You must be in very close proximity to do that and sometimes you have limitations on how close you can be with your principal, particularly when they are interacting with the public and potential voters. When any public figure decides he/she want to come within close proximity of a voter, you are required to break the standard formations and you cannot have security between the voter and the principal because they need that ‘’personal space’’.

Act too aggressive and they will perceive this position as very unapproachable, something that goes against your principal’s political campaigns. So you have limitations or adaptations to perform your protective job competently. 

Another thing to consider is that some protectees will appear uncooperative with you and your suggestions or directions. They will do the exact opposite of what you have instructed them to do or whatever the plan was because they thought doing something different was ok, safe or was suggested at the last minute by their campaign manager. Some protectees will ask you to protect them no matter what. The fact that they won’t consider changing their lifestyle, and you have to do your best, becomes another facet of the ever-evolving detail.

Have we forgotten the flying shoe incident with President Bush in a press conference in 2008? The red paint thrown at Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister in November 2010? Berlusconi’s nose being broken and two teeth knocked out when a man attending a political rally threw the statuette of Milan’s Duomo gothic cathedral straight in his face in 2009? Eggs being thrown at Bill Clinton in Warsaw, Poland? Nicolas Sarkozy being a victim of a flying pie in 1997? The book thrown at Obama in 2010? The glitter attack on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlently in 2011? Pope being attacked by a woman who jumped barriers at St Peter’s Basilica and knocked him down in 2009? The famous slap on Dimitra Liani Papandreou, the widow of ex Greek PM at her book signing by a woman who appears to be there to sign her book? Bill Gates’ “Pie-to-the-Face” fiasco? There are so many more similar incidents including paint, body fluids, pies, yoghurt, vegetables, flour and even flashing body parts such as the Femen members who went toplessness in front of the EU-Russia summit, in Brussels, in December 2012.

Can we criticize the EP team members involved in these incidents? Can we say that you would have done better after the incident has taken place? From the moment you have a complete crowd check for weapons, you are in a “secure” space. But what leads you to believe that you have a better understanding regarding the mental status of someone who appears to be a voter or a fan? Can you honestly guess his motives if he/she wants to slap, or spit or in some way embarrass your client?

If you haven’t provided security details for Public Figures, it may seem easy for you to criticize an incident like this, but criticizing what you don’t know and just assuming doesn’t make you right and it very well may show your ignorance. Instead, use this incident as a reminder that people will use anything to harm your client’s reputation and their imagination can be big and quite unpleasant. Keep it as a learning tool for yourself and yet another scenario in your head of what you would or wouldn’t do if…

Denida Grow

Managing Partner

LeMareschal LLC

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

How do you properly handle your client’s budget?

 One of the most serious of all professional deadly sins in our industry is the overcharging of the client or spending his/her money unreasonably and/or unwisely. We have seen too many companies presenting the “threat” to be much bigger than it truly is so they can cause more fear and create a dependency from the client and assign more bodies on the ground. The more bodies you have on the ground, the more money you can charge. The problem with this is not only the unethical portion but also, at some point, the client or someone from his company who is in charge of the security budget will sit down, evaluate and decide you are ”too much”, cutting down on the number of agents, simply decide to go with another security provider or, worst-case scenario, accuse you of fraud and unnecessary overbilling and take legal action against you.

   What most people don’t know is that someone who is going to reach out to you for his/her protection, either needs it or thinks he/she needs it. They want to hire a company and be done with it. Replacing you or searching for another provider is something they want to avoid, if at all possible. Those clients are looking for stability so if they seek to replace you, chances are your services are lacking something important or there is something wrong with the numbers you are charging.  How many of you have started with a team that the number of agents has been reduced to even half after a couple of months? Overcharging can be quite damaging to your contract as it will clearly show you are taking advantage of said client.

    Another issue that can make clients go searching elsewhere for services is how you manage their budget. We all know those operatives who will order the most expensive dish on the menu ”just because the client is paying”, or those operatives who will charge for services outside of the clients’ responsibility for their expenses while on duty. Yes, there has been that CPO who charged the client for that expensive spa treatment, or the massage, or the most expensive wine bottle for room service, or that one who demanded first-class airline tickets…and the list with the real-life cases goes on. 

    Just because a client is taking care of your expenses during your rotation/duty hours, it doesn’t mean in any way that you should take advantage of or abuse his/her budget or money. And often as not, this expensive lifestyle you are witnessing is THEIRS, not yours. Remember your place and who you are to the client and to the detail. If the client offers something, be grateful but always keep in mind, that was a one-time thing, not a proposition to continue with some type of spending spree on the detail’s part. 

     These types of protection professionals and their corresponding behavior show the level of how unprofessional they are and how much they disrespect the fact that someone else is kind enough to provide for all their costs while they are in the client’s employ. A CPO who knows how to properly manage his/her client’s money will always go much further and always be considered and thought of as a real professional.

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

Interpersonal skills for security professionals

You paid thousands of dollars for training and thousands more on equipment, firearms and clothing. Add in the cost of travel, hotels, meals, time off of work and other expenses and you are finally qualified for work, according to you. But what does the Client value in a protector? It may be no surprise that interpersonal skills top the list. Good manners, eye contact, a firm handshake, a timely smile, and an expansive vocabulary are just the tip of the iceberg. Knowing how to negotiate, and more, knowing when to remain silent are also key to a Client choosing you over an ex-WPPS Private Military Contractor.

After decades in the protection industry, it is continually apparent that while “fieldcraft“ is absolutely valuable and indeed essential to a Client’s required prerequisites, it is the “intellectual” skillset with which the Client has the greatest exposure, (and hardest time finding).

Many laugh when first hearing about interpersonal skills in the personal protection industry. They believe that as long the client is safe, nothing else matters. We all know that we are getting paid for that 0,1% chance that may require us to respond to a threat and “save the client”, but the rest of our time will be spent interacting with the client, their family members, employees, domestic staff, and our own colleagues. And just as important are the paparazzi and the public, both of whom have cameras in hand. One wrong comment or gesture and the Client’s embarrassment results in your termination, and possibly a civil action.

Social interaction requires specific interpersonal skills. Your ability to react or reply appropriately is crucial. Using the wrong words with the wrong person and your years in the sand box or skill with firearms won’t save you. You will be fired within seconds.  It happens every day and some of you won’t even know why.

Below we will try to give you some tips from ours as well as our colleagues experience and mistakes and even included some comments from past clients.

Your relationship with the client:

If you have any understanding of the industry at all, you know that you are with a client because someone within the client’s entourage has a fear that you have convinced them you can quash. In a combat zone, there is real fear of capture or death. In a large city in America, spy photos of the client out in public, drinking with friends, and in Mexico, Kidnapping. In many instances, you may be with the client 10 to 16 hours a day. So how do you spend that much time with them or their family, under that kind of stress without getting emotionally connected to them? Stick to the old adage: “Be seen and not heard”.

First of all keep in mind that the client is the one paying you, no matter how unrealistic his requests may be, you must adapt to his ‘’wants’’ and ‘’security needs’’. You may not be allowed to do what the job requires or have the manpower or equipment needed but you will have to adapt and do your job with what you have. You may be asked to be in position X and not Y because the client doesn’t feel comfortable otherwise. Consider too that it is also difficult for someone to get used to the idea of having strangers around them with every step they take and with every person they meet. Consider what you are doing that might be adding to or reducing their tension. Talking, staring, where you are standing, your cologne, or your actions can all add to a client’s frustrations.

The professional is one who can work with the difficult client, not the other way around. If you are lucky enough to work for that easy going client good for you, but most of the time you will have to deal with people that will test your limits. Have you ever had a client ask you to protect him but not to be within sight of him?

New professionals usually ask how they would deal with different challenges, like “what if the client asks me to have a drink with him”? What if the client asks you to do things that are out of your area of responsibility?

If you are a Close Protection Operative of the opposite sex of your client, then be prepared to deal with even more difficult situations. Traditionally mixing stress and fear with the comfort a protector can bring and the power and wealth of a client, (or his wife), and an opportunity……

Every one of us, client or Close Protection Operative (CPO), have different, social backgrounds and if you add to that different cultures then be ready to deal with more difficulties.

 

Boundaries

For many of us who have spent years in this business, (If we are successful enough to still be in this business), we have learned where our boundaries lie. If you are new in the business consider that boundaries exist for all of us. The client has them and so do you. When we are hired to protect a person, we are actually being allowed to step far inside their boundaries but they should not be allowed to step too far into ours. We will see a client in their most private and vulnerable moments, but what happens to our persona as “protector” if they see our weaknesses and vulnerabilities? And what happens if someone outside the client’s circle identifies our weaknesses or vulnerabilities?

How do we identify a client’s boundaries, and how do we educate them on ours? It’s really very simple; we ask. We should consider their social and moral code, their habits, vices and health issues and their fears. Sitting down with the client and discussing their needs and simply asking them where their boundaries are and letting them know ours is crucial to the success of a long term assignment. It may be no big deal for a client to ask you to enter a room where they are using drugs in a party setting or where he and his wife are in bed, but this may be beyond your comfort zone, (your boundary).

What is the difference between professionalism and friendship? Here is a simple rule: “You can’t buy friendship”. If you are being paid, you can’t be friends. If you want to be friends, stop taking the client’s money. Crossing the boundary between Professional and Friend is never successful.

From my personal experience I have found that when I was acting strictly professional the client was uncomfortable. Our task is to make them feel safe but when we appear ‘’untouchable’’ they believe we don’t understand their fears or what they’re going through. It is very important for them to feel we understand them. It is not easy to be the client….Sometimes they will open up and talk to us and we must show them we are listening. This is not friendship. This is part of our job.

If you get too friendly, then automatically your professionalism will suffer in your client’s eyes.  Not because he doesn’t trust you anymore but because your laps in professionalism suggests to him that you won’t be taking your job as serious as is needed.

Consider how Psychologists work. They cannot offer professional counseling to people who are in their family or with whom they are friends. They certainly cannot start dating a client.

It is understood that you may share many hours with the client. Talk to him only when he talks to you or when you have to say something that affects his safety. Avoid starting a conversation but always be friendly if the client decides to speak to you. If you are asked a question, try to answer it with a single sentence.

Your relationship with the client’s family members will have to be the same. Don’t be too friendly with them or other staff or guests. Remember who hired you and why. Remember who cuts your check and who ultimately you serve. You should answer to only one person. If you assist or serve anyone else, it must be with the approval of the client and then only at no cost to them.

If you appear too unapproachable or “hard”, you will intimidate those you are serving. Too approachable and the family and everyone else will feel comfortable approaching you. And it will always happen when you need to be focused. Take a middle position with your client which is addressed with professionalism. Again, prior to accepting your contract you must clarify from whom you will be given orders and directions regarding your work.

As a CPO your job is to protect you client’s life and image. You are not there to carry their briefcase or shopping bags, etc. You also should not be carrying the client’s child on your hip, or holding doors open or performing domestic chores. Remember to keep your hands free.

Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you are asked to perform duties which are outside of your role. The client is hiring a CPO not a maître ’de or a butler. It is professional to politely refuse to perform a task outside of your agreed responsibilities instead of accepting it and putting in danger a client or your life. He has hired you to provide security services and nothing else.

The client must see you as an educated, well trained, experienced and professional person, and it is up to you alone to earn his respect. If your client respects you then any of your suggestions concerning his safety will be accepted by him positively.

Alcohol? NO, NEVER, EVER…..while working. But……

What if your client calls you for a drink or coffee while you’re not on duty? In this case you have to ask why he is calling you. Does he see you as a friend or do you think he wants something unrelated to work or to talk about your work? First, remain professional. If your client calls, you respond. Then avoid alcohol at all cost. Consider that in many countries and especially in the United States, if you are in possession of a firearm and you are questioned by police with alcohol in your system, you will be arrested.

Physical Relationships

Sometimes the most dangerous trap a CPO may fall into is to have a physical relationship with his client or the client’s spouse. Remember that movie where the bodyguard was sleeping with his client? Art sometimes copies life. Being emotionally involved with your client, (or anyone in their circle), no matter how unprofessional we see it, has happened with some colleagues. Understand that if this occurs, the CPO is always at fault. Because the client is dependent on you, they may be more likely to share raw emotion with you or let you all the way in to that last boundary, the personal physical boundary. Take advantage of this vulnerability and you are solely to blame. And if you think you found the love of your life, you will be replaced by the next person the client sees power or an emotional investment in. And who is going to write you that professional referral letter then?

Sexual Harassment is rampant in our profession. Male CPOs are approached by everyone who is attracted to the perceived power of the protector or by anyone trying to get to the client or get into the client’s circle. But if you are a female CPO it is much worse. You will get barraged from both males and females, clients, their family members, friends and then your colleagues. Additionally, sometimes due to culture, there are those who believe that because they hired you to protect them you are there also for ‘’extra services’’. There have been cases like these which have been unreported to authorities but are a common problem within the female CPO industry. Again, that sit down meeting with the client prior to taking the job is strongly suggested.

 

Your relationship with colleagues:

During our career we will have to work along with people who don’t share the same work ethic, qualifications, training and experience, background, morals or values with us. So whether we like or dislike someone, we shouldn’t allow it to affect our professionalism. Our first loyalty is the client’s safety and the study and mastering of the art and skill toward this goal. Our second loyalty is to the industry to which we have dedicated our lives. Loyalty to our colleagues falls within this, not the other way around.

As we all know, Close Protection is a profession that is unfortunately void of professional standards and requirements. Each country, and even each State has its own licensing or training requirements and in many cases no training is required at all. In light of this, you realize that you have to work to solidify a team with people who bring with them different experience, skills, training disciplines, standards, professionalism, culture, and ethics in the same way a sports team or elite military unit has to work through individual differences to become a uniquely cohesive team.

It is very important that each one on the team promote and maintain a strong working relationship  with the others as well as the client, and of course other people who we may be in contact with (house personnel, office staff etc).

Some of the people you are working with may have more or less skill and may be younger or older. So in each situation you must address your issues with them with respect. Never offend anyone no matter the reason, never correct someone while anyone else in present. If you believe they made a mistake you can ask if he would mind a tip or advice. Not many people are open to advice from coworkers. If they refuse your help, respect it and leave it alone. If a colleague makes a sexual advance or even a comment that you are not comfortable with, address it quickly.

In our work it is very important when an issue occurs, to take immediate action to address it. Later you can do your research and as a team and correct it. As in any team, constructive criticism is meant to eliminate future problems.

Try to avoid conversations with your colleagues that include topics which trigger emotional responses like sports, religion, sex or politics. No conversation on these topics can contribute to your client’s safety.

Avoid discussion about family and do not share details about your family, spouse, kids or home life. You don’t know how the information may be used against you or your client later. Can you be blackmailed? Could this affect your client or team?

The only conversation you should entertain is the one that adds to your client’s safety.

Your relationship with fellow citizens and Law Enforcement:

In most countries your authority or legal ability to act is no more than any other citizen.  Trying to get a free pass at the club or disturbing the peace will give you and your client a bad image. No you can’t stop the traffic, park whenever you want, stop people from entering in public places or ask to search them.

Many of our colleagues come from a Law Enforcement or Military background, they use to have their own language with their former colleagues and may work along with them or ask for their help. Remember that active Law Enforcement personnel have their own agendas. They are not part of our industry any more than we are part of theirs. Do not ask them to help you do your job. Some may abuse their authority and use it to get close to your client, and may even try to replace you. Be respectful and keep your distance.

Your networking activities

It is common and we see it almost every day in online networks or forums, people who hide behind a “screen” or “nickname” and make negative comments about other colleagues. It is seen by most as cowardly at best to make public comments about someone while hiding behind a false identity and further, without allowing the victim or viewing audience to verify the experience or credentials of the accuser.

Industry forums serve a couple of purposes. The first is to inform and the second is to allow comments and feedback for the purpose of informing. Unfortunately, they have become a place for the unimpressive to gain their 15 minutes of fame. These chronic complainers, seemingly have plenty of free time, (possibly due to their unemployment), and repair their egos by blaming or criticizing others. Yes, there are non-professionals and there are professionals, but a forum is not the right place to show who is who.

For those who like to comment on different articles or posts online (…that includes many of us…) before you hit “send” be sure you:

1) Read the article/post carefully. It is very disappointing to see colleagues who post a negative comment on an article when it is clear that they neither completely read nor completely understood it.

2) Offer a solid answer/opinion based on logical thoughts or facts (or evidence/search results). Recently, someone tried to show their disagreement with an author. Their only approach to a counter-point was insulting the author which actually proved the author’s point.  Someone else tried to answer him by copying and pasting parts from the article and offering negative comments on the excerpts, which further proved the subject of the article; that some people in our industry can’t adapt their soldier mentality and behavior to the more polished corporate environment.

3) Answer in a manner that does not insult the writer or others.

4) Re-read and understand the article. Stating a disagreement is fine but following up with information that goes off topic and writing anything other than what is pertinent to the subject will only make you look stupid.

5) Read the article again,

6) Read your answer again from the perspective of your colleagues,

7) Read it once again from the perspective of someone who knows you,

8) If it doesn’t look professional/logical/in good taste or relative to the article provided, DO NOT hit that “send” button or “publish now” ….otherwise again, you will only end up looking stupid.

If you think companies and recruiting agents don’t look at a candidate’s networking profiles? Think again!

The bottom line is this:

If you lack professionalism on any level or lack interpersonal skills in dealing with people you work for, with or around, you will not be able to hide behind your experience, education or other skillsets.

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder & Worldwide Director

Athena Academy 

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaacademy.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

Fallen Bodyguards: the unknown heroes

Probably their death news never gets more than a dozen of views in online news sites or blogs. Most of the times their names are not revealed from the MEDIA and they are just mentioned as that celebrity or that dignitary bodyguard who was killed…. But they are people like us, with families, people with dreams that their life ended because of their professional risk level. I have heard it many times ‘’Well he got what he was after it….if you want to get paid well you risk your life’’……

No matter what others out of our profession think about us, close protection is not that well paid job, basically no job in the world can pay your life. We are not police officers or military, we are hired to protect someone’s life and welfare.  That’s our job and many of us are doing it not because of the money. But because is what we love to do and what we know to do best.

I started this article and will continue to update it with names and information over fallen close protection operatives who lost their lives due to their profession. No matter who their client were, what nationality or political beliefs they had, they were their clients, and those fallen were protecting them.

–          May, 2012, Quintos (32 years old), De Lima bodyguard, who was also a member of the DOJ’s Intelligence Service Operations Group (Isog) was found dead in Bulacan with a gunshot wound in the chest and his service firearm was missing.  De Lima has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation with the police as she considered Quintos’ killing a threat to her own safety (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/191973/de-lima-bodyguard-shot-dead-in-bulacan).

–          July, 2011, Southern Soudan Minister Jimmy Lemi Millahas been shot dead along his bodyguard inside his ministry building in Juba (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12403620).

–           July, 2012, Baghdad, a bodyguard of Iraq’s Shia Vice President Khudair al-Khuzaie was Saturday shot dead in an attack. An interior ministry official said that unidentified gunmen shot down the bodyguard in Baghdad’s central district of Karrada (http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/iraqi-vice-presidents-bodyguard-shot-dead-386149.html).

–          June, 2012, Bodyguard Geovanni Legaspi Dumaraos was declared dead on arrival at the hospital after he run in an ambush with his client Reynaldo dela Torre Paras a member of Laguna board who survived the attack (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/208445/laguna-board-member-hurt-bodyguard-killed-in-ambush).

–          May, 2012, Pablico Redoque died of multiple gunshot wounds all over his body, he was the bodyguard of  Ilocos Sur Vice Mayor Jesus Bueno Jr. Police are investigating if the incident is linked to the victim’s affiliation with the Santa vice mayor (http://beta.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/05/02/12/ilocos-vice-mayors-bodyguard-killed).

–          October, 2011, bodyguard was shot dead in a gun battle involving opposing factions of the Sri Lankan ruling party during Saturday’s local council elections in the capital, police said. He was serving Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, former lawmaker and advisor to the president, who also died (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/presidential-aide-bodyguard-killed-sri-lanka-254)

–          February, 201, Moscow – An attempt to murder the president of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia left one bodyguard dead and three seriously injured. A roadside bomb detonated as a column of vehicles carrying Ankvab and his entourage passed along a road near (http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1692226.php/Attack-on-leader-of-breakaway-Georgia-province-kills-bodyguard).

–          May, 2012, Iraq.A bodyguard working for one of the main parties in Iraq’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which has clashed politically with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was killed. Latif Ramadan Jassim was on duty near the headquarters of the Wifaq (Accord) party in Zeitun, west Baghdad, when he was stabbed to death (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/May-02/172100-iraq-party-bodyguard-stabbed-to-death-officials.ashx#axzz25bhwVqYm).

–          August, 2012, Yemen. Gunmen strafed the car of Yemeni information minister Ali Ahmed al-Amrani with bullets, killing his bodyguard, but the official was not in the vehicle at the time (http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/RestOfAsia/Bodyguard-killed-in-attack-on-Yemeni-minister/Article1-907426.aspx).

–          January, 2012. CATARMAN, Northern Samar—Communist killed the bodyguard of the town mayor and fleeing with firearms seized from a small police force that was caught flat-footed by the attack (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/132557/mayor%E2%80%99s-bodyguard-killed-in-npa-raid-on-northern-samar-town).

–          February, 2006, 29-year-old Israel Ramirez was shot once in the chest as he stood outside a Brooklyn, New York, warehouse where stars including Rhymes, 50 CENT, MARY J BLIGE, MISSY ELLIOTT and G-UNIT rapper LLOYD BANKS had gathered to shoot a promo (http://www.hiphopgalaxy.com/busta-rhymes-bodyguard-shot-dead-hip-hop-3456.html).

–          July, 2011, MANILA, Philippines,Isko Moreno’s bodyguard shot dead.The victim, identified as Jonathan Ignacio, was shot by a man who suddenly entered his house on Prudentia Street, Tondo, Manila.The victim was sleeping with his live-in partner, Vanesa Dabuet, and his 3-year-old son when the incident happened (http://rp1.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/07/07/11/isko-moreno%E2%80%99s-bodyguard-shot-dead).

–          May, 2012, Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed and his bodyguard were killed by gunfire after failing to stop at the LAF checkpoint in Kwaykhat. Sheikh Ahmed was heading to the rally held by the partisans of MP Khaled Daher to commemorate the memory of the May 7 victims (http://www.lbcgroup.tv/news/31150/sheikh-abdul-wahed-and-bodyguard-killed-laf-establ).

–          May, 2012, Bogota,A bomb targeting a Colombian former interior minister has killed two of his bodyguards and injured at least 39 people in Bogota (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/16/bogota-bomb-kills-two-bodyguards).

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com

Anne-Marie Murphy Case (1986), A must read Case of Terroristic Attack for Security Operatives:

As posted on Israel Security Agency website: (http://www.shabak.gov.il/english/history/affairs/pages/anne-mariemurphycase.aspx)

On Thursday, April 17, 1986, at the Heathrow International Airport in London, El Al security agents thwarted an attempt to blow up an El Al plane in mid-air. The plane, a Boeing 747, flight no. 016 on the New York – London – Tel Aviv route, was preparing to depart with 395 passengers and crew

The plan was to plant explosives in the belly of the plane; the explosives were to be transported by a duped and innocent passenger entirely unaware of their existence.
El Al security agents at the London stop uncovered the explosives and prevented the terror attack. After the discovery of the explosives, local authorities took over and arrested the passenger; later also arresting the man who sent her, a Jordanian Arab named Nizar Hindawi.

The passenger, a 32 year old Irish woman named Anne-Marie Murphy, who was six months pregnant, arrived at the check-in desk some forty minutes before it closed. She was approached and questioned by the deputy security officer as part of routine passenger security checks.

No suspicious signs were revealed during her questioning. The passenger, who gave the impression of being a simple woman, responded in the negative when asked if she had been given anything to bring to Israel. During the questioning she was calm, and revealed no sign of nervousness. In the check of her baggage, suspicious signs came to light: a Commodore scientific calculator with an electric cable was found; the bag raised suspicion due to its unexpectedly heavy weight. The security officer’s examination of the bag revealed explosives concealed in the bottom of the bag, under a double panel. He called the police, and the passenger was arrested.
Examination of the bomb by the local police revealed a detonator in the Commodore calculator coated with plastic Simtex explosives, connected to an electronic timing device which was set to activate the major explosives cache hidden inside the bag.
An examination of the timer mechanism, once it was disconnected from the explosives, revealed that the jet was intended to explode about two and a quarter hours after its takeoff for Israel, at a height of 39,000 feet, when it would have been airborne between Italy and Greece.

Hindawi’s Syrian connection
Anne-Marie Murphy’s interrogation revealed that she had met a Jordanian named Nizar Hindawi about two years earlier. He presented himself as a journalist, and a relationship developed between the two. The relationship was on and off, given that Hindawi was not permanently resident in the UK. In April 1986, when they met again, he discovered that she was in advanced stages of pregnancy as a result of their relationship. He suggested that they marry, and spend their honeymoon in Israel. He gave her a sum of money for buying clothes, acquiring a passport, and purchasing a plane ticket to Israel. He further told her that as a Jordanian, he was unable to travel together with her, but would travel to Jordan and from there he would travel by land to Israel in order to meet her at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

On the night before her flight, Hindawi arrived at her house with a large bag and helped her to pack her belongings. During the drive to the airport, she noticed that he was fumbling in her bag: later on it was revealed that this was in order to connect a battery to the Commodore computer and to attach it to the bottom of the bag, close to the principal explosives cache.

The interrogation of the terrorist Hindawi as well as other individuals arrested in the case, revealed that the Syrians were behind the plan, through members of their embassy in London. Syrian air force intelligence men brought the bag, which was later equipped with explosives, from Syria to the UK, via Syrian Airlines. These Syrians also prepared an operational infrastructure in London, including a safe apartment used for briefings, preparation and escape following the attack. Hindawi’s interrogation revealed that he had been linked with the Syrian intelligence since the 80’s, as well as with two senior officers in the security administration of the Syrian air force.

In February 1986, one of the two, Haytham Sa’id, proposed to Hindawi that he plant a bomb in an El Al jet. Hindawi received detailed instructions from Sa’id regarding how to plant the bomb. Sa’id further advised Hindawi to use a woman to plant the bomb in the jet, explaining that a woman would arouse less suspicion. Hindawi was promised $250,000 for carrying out the mission.

Hindawi decided to make use of his girlfriend, Anne-Marie, to plant the bag in the El Al plane. He proposed to her on April 7, 1986, and suggested that they hold the wedding in Israel, as well as the honeymoon. On the 16th of April, Hindawi helped his girlfriend pack her bags, in the bag he brought her specially for this purpose. The next day, he accompanied her to the airport. On the way, he activated the explosive mechanism of the bomb.

Hindawi returned to his hotel after bidding farewell to Murphy, and waited for the Syrian Airlines crew car which would take him to the airport, where he would depart for Syria. When the car arrived, one of the crew members informed him that Anne-Marie Murphy had been arrested at the airport. He instructed Hindawi to hail a taxi and to go immediately to the Syrian embassy. The man gave Hindawi a sealed envelope, and instructed him to hand it to the Syrian ambassador personally.

When the ambassador read the missive, he instructed Hindawi to travel, with two Syrians, to the safe apartment in London. Hindawi was held in the apartment until the next morning, when the two Syrians again arrived to accompany him back to the embassy. Hindawi suspected that they were about to kill him. He fled and called his brother, who called the police. Hindawi was arrested. At the time of his arrest he was in possession of a Syrian passport.

The apartment in which Hindawi had been held was that of a guard in the Syrian embassy, and the Syrians guarding him were embassy guards. The three were expelled from the UK. A British police search of the apartment revealed Hindawi’s false documents as well as official Syrian embassy documents.

The trial and the consequences
Anne-Marie Murphy was not tried. Nizar Hindawi was sentenced on October 25, 1986, to 45 years imprisonment. During the trial, his defense attorney attempted to claim that the affair was a Mossad provocation, and that the Mossad had planted the bomb in order to “uncover” it and thus gain political capital against Syria. The security officer who testified in the trial under the name Mr. A, hidden from the audience and reporters by a curtain, was forced to deny that he was a Mossad agent as well as that he himself had hidden the bomb in Anne-Marie Murphy’s belongings during the security check…

As a result of the affair, Britain cut its ties with Syria. The exposure of the explosives in London foiled the terror attack, and saved the lives of 395 passengers and crew. The Israeli prime minister at the time, Shimon Peres, later stated that if the attack had been successfully carried out, the state of Israel would have been forced to go to war with Syria as a result of the Syrian role in the attack.

A rare coincidence
This incident occurred in London less than six months after El Al’s security apparatus had been put to the test: on the 27th December, 1985, two groups of terrorists simultaneously attacked groups of El Al passengers in the Rome and Vienna airports.

The attacks were thwarted, leading to the deaths of three terrorists in Rome, and the arrest of the fourth, who was wounded. In Vienna, one terrorist was killed and two were caught. During the Vienna incident, El Al security officers and guards led a hot pursuit of the terrorists’ car, together with the local police. In the two incidents together, sixteen civilians were killed, including an El Al passenger, and 120 were wounded, including 7 El Al employees, 4 deputy security officers, and one security guard.

It turned out that the “Abu Nidal” organization was behind the planning and execution of the two attacks; and furthermore, the terrorists departed from Damascus, the “Abu Nidal” faction headquarters, for both Rome and Vienna. There was a rare and coincidental connection between these two incidents and the London incident: the security officer of the London flight was involved in the Vienna incident as well, where he had been serving as a backup security officer at the local El Al station.

These two incidents reflect some degree of the great complexity in the field of security, and the high level of expertise required to provide a response to a variety of threats: the preparedness and the quick reactions needed for an immediate response to an attack initiated by the opponent; as well as the “mind war” between the security apparatus and the terrorist organizations eager to find gaps in security which can be used to infiltrate explosive devices to explode planes in midair, even with the unwitting aid of duped passengers.


An examination of the timer mechanism, once it was disconnected from the explosives, revealed that the jet was intended to explode about two and a quarter hours after its takeoff for Israel, at a height of 39,000 feet”

 

 

Pub Alone for the 8 years old daughter of British Prime Minister David Cameron

An unbelievable incident took place in Britain on June 11, when British Prime Minister, David Cameron, after lunch with his family and friends in a pub forgot his 8 years old daughter behind after leaving the place.

According to the British press (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jun/11/david-cameron-daughter-behind-pub) The Camerons were at the Plough Inn, near Chequers, with Nancy and their other children, Arthur, six, and 22-month-old Florence, as well as two other families.

When Cameron left the pub he went home in one car with his bodyguards and thought Nancy was with his wife and their other children in another car. Samantha Cameron had assumed her eldest daughter was with her father. The mistake was only discovered when they got home.

The prime minister drove back to the pub and found Nancy helping staff. She was away from her parents for about 15 minutes.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said there was no question of the Camerons blaming security for the incident. “Sam thought the PM had Nancy, the PM thought Sam had Nancy,” he said. “They take responsibility for their own children. No one is going to face disciplinary action.”

Observing the incident from a security point of view, we could say that a security failure like this could be had a very bad end. It is obvious that a person like Britain’s Prime Minister it is considered as a high risk threat level ‘’client’’ and that also include all his family members. Being a close protection operative you are responsible not only for the person you are paid to protect but also his family members. It is your responsibility to think and act in advance and make sure all necessary actions have been taken to secure all family members. So next time while escorting your client and his family in a pub make sure you do the following questions to yourself while leaving the place: Client? Check, Clients wife? Check, Children?……..

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

www.athenaacademy.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

Female Close Protection Operatives Training, Level 1, September 1-9, 2012, Atlanta, GA

Athena’s Close Protection Operative certification is the next generation in Close Protection training. Our course has been adapted to meet the particular training and educational requirements, specific to female close protection operatives.

Basic Training:

Including:
-Principles of Executive Protection/Code of Conduct
-Solo Protector & in a Detail -Physical Security
-Protective Escort -Surveillance & Countersurveillance
-Protective Intelligence & Advance Operations
-Armed and Unarmed Combat/Krav Maga
-Anti-Terrorism (identification and and the terrorist cycle)
-Improvised Explosive Device
-Basic Pistol Training & Firearms Safety
-Event & Estate Security
-Behavioral Intelligence and Attack Recognition
-Dealing with Media & Paparazzi
-First Aid & CPR/AED

Our instructors are from Israel, Greece, and the United States. They brings ATHENA students unparalleled real world experience in protective service operations. Instructors that have served Prime Ministers, celebrities, CEO’s and other influential leaders will be teaching you.
We have an excellent success rate and once the course is completed we continue to work with our students to progress their development and assist their entry into the Close Protection world.

To learn more please visit: http://www.AthenaAcademy.com/

For additional information and applications please e-mail: charla@athenaworldwide.com

Athena Academy official FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Athena-Academy-International-Female-Security-Training/267075996663008

Course cost is $2,000 with payment schedules available to those who qualify. Deposits for this course are $500, and full course fees paid 3 weeks before starting date.

Application date open until July 30

When a Secret Agent goes bad…

The last days all we in security industry have been receiving a lot of shared links with the story of the secret service agents and military personnel who were in charge for President Barrack Obama’s trip to Colombia security detail. According to the news, 12 recalled officials were involved in this incident and accused for hiring and bringing to their hotel rooms (in the same hotel where the President was staying as well), prostitutes.

As we all can understand, something like that is let’s said unprofessional in many ways and putting the whole detail in danger. Not to comment at all the unethical part of it… Human history has shown us the power of female sex on males, a woman using her ways can learn from a man whatever information she is looking for. Many women have been trained from different secret services around the globe and used to gather Intel from the ‘’enemy’’. Knowing your enemy’s deepest secrets gives you always one step ahead, so by this fact is not surprising at all, how much some information can costs, in money or let’s say in paying with other ways…

During our close protection training classes we all have heard about cases such as the ones of Ronald Reagan assassination attempt or the assassination of Anwar Sadat, according to rumors, their close protection agents were ‘’women victims’’, women who were sent to gather Intel about their details. Rumors or true stories? Well where a smoke there is is a fire too.

What is important to comment is the fact that when it comes to this kind of ‘’seductions’’ a man will be a victim no matter his training or professional background, secret agents, military or private security agents. It takes a lot more than good professional skills to know your limitations and stay professional and ethical during your detail. And when we say your detail that also includes your colleagues who work with you. If we think about it, it takes only 1 man from the whole team to break down, and you will have Intel and access to the whole team.

So is very important to not only be aware and in alert for ourselves but also observe and guide our colleagues as well. When it comes to the detail’s safety and benefit, it will be times when you need to be strict and tough with your colleagues who seem to have lost their way and professionalism. Remember what keeps your client safe keeps you safe and vice versa.

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com

So you are trained to protect your client, but are you good enough in protecting your family too?

We chose our profession and we are fully responsible for the risks we are taking on our own life, but what about our family?  The people who love us and are part of our life either by blood or personal choice… Those who accepted our way of living because they love us.

So we got through our professional development course, we got skills and experience and we can provide safety to our client, but are we sure we know how to provide safety for our family?

It is sad to see nowadays many professionals who work in security industry exposing their family members in social networks. Trying to stay in touch with friends or other family members and sharing your children’s or your spouse photos and info is something who give to all of us joy but if we think about it, it is very risky, especially when we do it in social networks when everyone can have access and we can’t control who is watching what.

Tagging your child, spouse, mother, sister etc is like targeting them as well. If someone would like to hurt your client he will first get to the one who is standing in between him and your client, and that person is you and everyone related to you. He will try to get intel about you and use it against you, make you weak cause your presence makes his action more difficult.

Before many years we had a story going in Greece, when a colleague was sent his child photo with a note: ‘’don’t go to work today….’’ He had to decide between his family, his own child and his client safety. If we think about it, it can happen to anyone, what would we do in this case?

Instead of thinking what we would do in a situation like that lets think what we can do to prevent it and provide to our loved ones more safety. Being in security industry we must learn how to work in low profile, try not to talk about your job and most of all about who your client is!!!

If you can use a different name while working, nowadays is way too easy to have access to anyone info online in USA that has to do with their marital status, financials etc.  

Do not wear your wedding ring while working, do not talk about your family even to your colleagues, they may be trusted but you never know what someone can reveal by mistake.

Do not keep in your wallet photos or anything that would reveal information about family when you go to work.

Try to use different mobile phones, one for your personal life and one for your work. And the most important…KEEP AWAY SOCIAL NETWORKING any information and photos about your family. If you must use social networking places for your job then make sure you have two accounts, one for personal and one for business use and make sure those two have nothing in common. Nothing that would connect the one account with the other. Keep business contacts for business account and family members for your personal account. 

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

 

http://www.athenaacademy.com

Train to Protect? What you need to know

Lately we are getting some questions from prospective students and we would like to answer to those questions and give to those who are interested to join the industry  more information about our profession and what to expect.

– How fit you need to be to manage the CPO-training?

Being in security industry you have to be in good health condition, have good resistance and ability to react fast. There is no specific height or weight scale that you must fit in in order to become a Close Protection Agent. Some security service companies when they want to hire may ask for specific height and weight, although this have been very rarely. What you have to have in mind is that you need to be ”in shape”, our job is very demanding not only physically when it comes to conflicts and maybe hand to hand combat but also being many hours standing up out of a door or a vehicle waiting for the client.

Some training providers also use to put specific standards on their application like push ups, sprint etc in order to be accepted to their training course. Personally, i don’t agree with the idea. As i believe the majority of our profession is based on mental awareness and brain skills than physical skills (of course you need also physical skills, but you don’t have to be the best weightlifter or sprinter!). Neither you can make a student in 8 or 12 training days during CPO course super fit or change his shape maze. That is something that every CPO has to be responsible and work hard day by day to achieve it.

– How the job market currently lo0k for bodyguards, would you get any jobs/job chanses after the CPO-training?

In order to answer to this, you have to think that attending a CPO course you are getting professional skills and education like attending in a College. Before you spend your time and money you have to think it well if this profession suit to you and also study the market. No training provider can guaranty you will find a job after the training or when…(if some do so consider it as a red flag), can anyone guaranty you a job position after your BSc achievement? No.. it is up to you to do your homework and market yourself accordingly.

Security industry is considered as a ”well paying industry”, but until you make it up there you need to start from down steps and work every time.

 

-Why the CPO-training is “so expensive”?

Actually, CPO training’s are not expensive at all if you consider the fact that by attending one you will receive the skills and knowledge to do a job that is well paying. Maybe it seems expensive because people see the short term educational program in combination with cost, so an 8 or 12 days courses for $2000-$3000 may look expensive for some prospective students.

Having gone through University education and Security Related courses the last eleven years of my life i can definitely say my University education cost me much much more.

You have to have in mind as well the fact that in our profession we need to go under more training courses all the time to develop our skills and be prepared better. Don’t think just because you attended a CPO course you are ready to go, that’s only a course to start. But would be more easy to you when you are already working and making some money to attend in more courses later.

 

-Why some training providers don’t run trainings in their (prospective students)  city/hometown, as some think its a long way to different training facilities.

Running a CPO training requires specific training facilities, something that has costs a lot for the training provider to built. In some states and countries you even need a specific license from the government to run a training facility like that, so as you understand it is not easy to ”move all equipment” in another part of the country that would be closer to some students.

If you are interested to become a bodyguard your first step is to be willing to travel a bit/long way to get a good CPO-training. If you´re not ready to travel to a new city, or perhaps a new country to take this kind of training, then you are probably not ready to be a bodyguard and travel with a client either, cause traveling is a big part of beeing somebodys protective shadow. You as a BG/CPO always follow your client whereever he/she goes, and it can continue for hours, weeks, months and even years, depending on the contract.

Sometimes you may even need to move into another area, state, city that can offer you more job vacancies than the one you are living in.

 

-And last but very important the LICENSE issue….

There seems to be some confusion around the topics of bodyguard certifications and licenses. I think this is a result of prospective female bodyguards trying to break into the industry and trying to sift through the multitude of training schools, associations and the “puffery” being perpetuated by misleading marketing language. I seem to answer this question a lot from prospective students. So I would like to put this out to all those who haven’t asked for some reason or another, but want to know.

There are multiple ASSOCIATIONS for bodyguards, most of which charge a fee to be a member. Some are better than others as far as what benefits they offer their members. An Association is nothing more than a business created by someone who thinks they can provide a service and try to make the bodyguard industry better. They usually have experience in the field and would like to further the industry as a whole. Some do a good job of that and some don’t. Either way, there is nothing special needed to create an Association other than the desire, willingness and a business license. They are not usually “sanctioned” by an overarching authority. They intend to BE the authority.

Most Associations are trying to “standardize” the industry by offering their own CERTIFICATION. Their Certification is a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that they think a bodyguard should have to be successful. There again, the association chooses what to include in the Certification, there is not one set of standards. They are trying to create that set of standards. There are many differing opinions in this industry so you have to weigh how much credibility each one has. A Certification is NOTHING MORE than a piece of paper proving you attended a course that you can put on your CV to show to a prospective employer. Some Certifications will make you look better than others because of the school’s credibility.

A LICENSE is what the governmental unit of your area grants to individuals that allow them to work as a bodyguard legally within their jurisdiction (area). Certifications are not Licenses. Every governmental unit has different requirements to get a license. Some may not even require you to have a Certification because it doesn’t mean anything to them.

There are some students that are coming to us saying that they want an international bodyguard course because they want to work internationally. Keep in mind though that just because the course is called an International Bodyguard course, it does not give you any more privileges than a course called Bodyguard Training. They might give you instruction slanted towards how to operate across country lines but there is no international license. There is no authority that could grant such a license because there is not a governmental unit that governs the whole earth. You still have to get a license in every country, state, area, province, etc that you want to work in.

Some of prospective students have been led to believe that they will be trained by US Federal Agencies. This is not true. US federal law enforcement agencies do not train bodyguards. If a school makes that claim, it should be a red flag. Pay careful attention to the language. It may be that one of the instructors used to teach at a US federal law enforcement academy prior to training bodyguards, but the curriculum you will learn is not sanctioned by that agency. There are companies that have contracts with the federal government to provide training, but again, if you are not part of the agency they are training, you won’t get that training material. You will get a civilian version or a close protection version, but not a military or law enforcement version.

So, as far as associations and schools go, no one can tell you which one to join or which school to attend. Only you can decide what’s in your best interest for your career. You should get as much knowledge as you can from many different sources. Just make sure the source isn’t making you think it is more than it really is.

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com