Category Archives: Counterterrorism

The New ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course Graduates

 

Congratulating the new graduates of the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Training Course.  Long hours, challenging assignments a few surprises, and the ever present  mantra “drill, drill, drill”.

Thanks for giving 100%! Your efforts showed!

 

Next course:  April 30 – May 9th, 2012  Special Financing & Scholarship Opportunities Available.  For more information click HERE.

ICON CEO Elijah Shaw Talks Executives & International Travel Security

 

The Star Tribune Business Section ask ICON Services Corporation CEO, Elijah Shaw about his views on Executive Protection and International Security.

Q What risks do corporate executives and the rich face?

A Domestically, they face the same challenges everyone faces but they are in a higher-income bracket and have the resources to help mitigate those risks. Just going to Times Square in New York City to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop includes the potential of terrorism or even a stick-up robbery. We offer suggestions on how to mitigate that risk. Whether it’s a high net-worth individual or a corporate executive, they are a commodity that needs to be protected. We try to illustrate the potential risks.

Q What about their families?

A In this information age and with the rise of social media, your movements can be tracked. Executives are told not to have a Facebook page but that seldom gets passed along to the family. So you have your 16-year-old daughter telling her friends on Facebook that the family is poolside in Cabo and on its way to Disney World and that information is out there. We have to think like bad guys. The motive could be kidnapping. You don’t want to smother a client with too much information. But you want to illustrate what can happen.

Find the full article in the Business Section of the Star Tribune by clicking HERE.

 

What’s So Different About The ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course?

 

In short, everything and nothing.  Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti recently said to me upon reviewing first hand the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course , “Why don’t you just call it the “Executive Protection Course”, as all of the fundamentals are here”.  Mr. Scotti, had  a great point, and my response was that I wanted to make sure those that attended knew that in addition to those fundamentals they were also getting something at the class that had a clear distinction from what they could find anywhere else.   –An emphasis on working with Celebrities and the challenges and rewards that come with that segment of the marketplace from people that still do the work on a daily basis.  As we like to describe it; additional tools for the toolbox.

Along those lines, when we made the decision to introduce an Advanced 10 day course, I wanted to again have a distinction in the market.  This time it came in the form of not just teaching how to do everything the “right way” but also how to act (and react) when things go wrong.  the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course puts an emphasis on operating in a hostile environment with a client and covers a multitude of disciplines including Risk Assessments, Threat Planning, Surveillance Detection, Counteraction Drills and medical life saving techniques, with several curve balls thrown in.   Having recently wrapped a course to positive reviews, I think we are again practicing our philosophy of giving great value and respect to the time and resources expended by the attending student.  Now looking forward to Tony stopping by the next one and letting me know what he thinks.

 

Learn more about ICON’s Advance Executive Protection Course by clicking HERE.

ICON Executive Protection Themed Targets

A couple years ago, I commented to the instructors of  ICON Services Corporation how during the live-fire drills of our training courses I would like to use a paper target that spoke more to our industry as Executive Protection Agents.  Prior to this, we had been using some of the fairly common full-color situational targets that law-enforcement and the military shoot for practice (some of which had to have been photographed during the Reagan-Era).  While some were pretty good, none of them seemed to give me exactly what I was looking for — the scenario where I, as an Executive Protection Agent, has to suddenly pull my firearm to defend my client (as opposed to disarming a masked robber or shooting Bin Laden as many of the targets on the market portray).  As mentioned, we tried a few… then tried a few more, but I still didn’t “love ’em”.
Then inspiration struck.  If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, then I might as well create it.  Long story short, ICON was able to partner with North America’s largest distributor of paper targets to create the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.  Shot by the wonderful photographer Kiki Koralesky of Contact Front Photography, our initial series of 6 has been well received and have been met with brisk enough sales for the manufacturer to request additional targets in the future.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
Fast forward to July of 2011 where I got a note from a good friend of mine working in Afghanistan that referenced the “World being a small place“.  Turns out that while setting up some training with some other VERY distinguished Operators in that area of the world, he took a look at the paper targets they are using and guess what? –Yep, ICON.   While I do keep track though the distributor of the volume of sales, and realize that it’s not just the Close Protection community using them as orders have been place with Law Enforcement and Government Institutions, it was still nice to learn that the targets were serving their purpose in such a hostile area of the world.  The intent was to give the shooter a realistic situational target and in a region of the world where the stakes are as high as it gets, taking the time to train with the line speaks volumes.

Click here to learn more about the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.

 

 

Armored Men Author Tom Taylor Inteview

 

The upcoming issue of the Circuit Magazine – The Magazine for the Executive Protection Agent takes a moment to speak with noted author Tom Taylor regarding his newest book “Armored Men”.  Having worked on other titles such as the novel “Mortal Shield” and the excellent work “Just 2 Seconds” (with Gavin de Becker), Mr. Taylor has the distinction of being not just an accomplished writer, but also a seasoned Security Operator, having spent many years as part of the security detail for a US Governor.  Below is a excerpt from the interview.

You have had an internationally recognized career protecting the likes of President Ford to Mikhail Gorbachev, what was the motivation behind your career as a Protector?

I saw Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt in 1968 in which he and his team had to protect a mob witness. It planted a seed in me about doing protection work. In 1973, I began working as a road trooper in Kansas City for the Missouri Highway Patrol. Four months later, the Patrol began the first full-time security detail for a Missouri governor, called the Executive Security Unit (ESU), with a sergeant and six troopers. At that time, most states had a full-time detail for their governors. In 1974, ESU had their first vacancy when one of the members transferred out. They asked my training officer if he wanted the slot since he had assisted the detail several times and done a good job. He declined, but recommended me. Within two weeks — at 23 and with no protective experience or training – I was protecting the governor. It would be two years before I got any formal training, when I attended the Secret Service’s week long “Protective Operations Briefing” in Washington, DC. I’ve loved EP work since that first detail.

With such a successful career as a Protection Agent, where did the idea of becoming a novel writer come from?

I’ve always been an avid reader and my favorite authors are Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, and Alex Berenson. I’ve always had an interest in writing, as well. In 1991, I wrote a series of articles about EP work for the Missouri Trooper magazine. I was commanding the division at that time, protecting my fourth governor, and wrote the series because so many officers had misconceptions about protection work. The series won the Article of the Year Award. I began toying with the idea of writing a novel in the mid-1980s. I had worked around all of the other governor’s details for years and heard many great stories. So in the late 1990s, I began writing my first novel. In Mortal Shield, many of the situations in the book were inspired by true events that happened to some protective detail.

Armored Men, seems to have made a splash in the Executive Protection industry as well as the mainstream public, was it your intent to create these “hero-like” character who reach all walks of life?

Absolutely. I’ve had many people who know nothing about protection tell me they loved the book and now have more respect for protective agents. Over the years, one question I heard more often than any other from members of the general public was: “What’s your job like?” They watch Hollywood’s portrayal of protectors and use that as their reference. There is plenty of fiction that portrays realistic situations for military or law enforcement figures. But it’s rare to find a novel that accurately captures a story about EP operations. You’ll find protectors accurately mentioned in the storyline of a Clancy or Flynn novel, but the book isn’t about those characters. So I decided to write that book.

What has been your reaction to how well this book has been received by protection agents worldwide?

As I say in the Author’s Note, the most meaningful feedback has been from other protectors. Especially from other top experts, like Bob Duggan at ESI, Hans van Beuge at Savior Protective Services, and Elijah Shaw at Icon.  The positive feedback from protectors all over the world shows we all face the same challenges.

For the full interview conducted by Derrick “Bear” Collins, watch for the Summer 2011 issue of The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards.

 

 

 

A Timeline on the Special Forces Defeat of Bin Laden

The US Navy Seals executed an operation that resulted in the led to the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.  Here’s what we know so far:

* Four years ago: Officials uncovered a courier’s identity who they believe may have strong ties to Osama.

* Two years ago: Investigators identified areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother lived.

*  August 2010: The residence of the courier and his brother was found in Abbottabad, 30 to 35 miles north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

* September 2010: The CIA worked with President Barack Obama “on a set of assessments that led it to believe that in fact it was possible” bin Laden may be at the compound in Abbottabad.

* February 2011: U.S. officials concluded there was a “sound intelligence basis” for pursuing bin Laden at that location.

* March and April 2011. President Barack Obama held a series of National Security Council meetings “to develop courses of action to bring justice to Osama bin Laden.” There were at least five NSC meetings — March 14, March 29, April 12, April 19, and April 28.

* April 29, 2011. President Obama gave the final order to pursue the operation.

* May 2, 2011. After months of decision-making and planning, a U.S. military team conducted a small helicopter raid on the compound. The officials did not provide a breakdown of team members, but a senior U.S. defense official said U.S. Navy SEALs were involved in the operation.

The senior administration officials provided these details of the raid:

* The team was in the compound for 40 minutes. It did not encounter any local authorities during the raid.

* Bin Laden resisted the assault force and died in a firefight. Along with bin Laden, three adult males were killed.

* Two were believed to be the couriers and one was a son of bin Laden.

* A woman used as a human shield by a male combatant died and two women were injured.

* A helicopter was lost because of mechanical failure.

* Intelligence on bin Laden was not shared with Pakistan and other countries.

* After the raid, U.S. officials briefed Pakistani and other world leaders.

* Bin Laden has been buried at sea and his body was handled in the Islamic tradition.  (via CNN)

 

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

US Military Used As Escorts For Hire in Yemen?

Now this is interesting.  Looks like somebody is making a little money under the table

ADEN, Yemen—The Yemeni Coast Guard, working through private companies, is renting out servicemen and patrol boats—including vessels given to Yemen by the U.S.—for commercial ships seeking armed escorts against piracy. The arrangements are raising fresh questions about whether the San’a government is effectively using American military aid.

The U.S. has donated boats for use in protecting Yemen’s coastline against terrorists and other security threats. Discussions are under way in Washington about significantly ramping up assistance to help fight the al Qaeda network based in Yemen.

Congressman Pete King (R., N.Y.), the incoming chairman for the House Committee on Homeland Security, said reports of diverted U.S. military aid to Yemen raise “serious questions, which will be addressed by the Homeland Security Committee,” in Congress’s next session.

Four Yemeni officials familiar with the private security details said they are done for profit and involve high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Interior and the nation’s Coast Guard Authority, which falls under the ministry.

For the full story, click HERE.

Israel: The Solution to America’s Airport Security Problems?

Stumbled across an interesting article from The Star.com (via TF) on the differences between airport security in North America vs. how they screen in Israel.

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience…

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

“The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport,” said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

“Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is,” Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

Once you’ve parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion’s half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

“This is to see that you don’t have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious,” said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

“The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds,” said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area…

For the full story click HERE.

FAA Loses 100,000 Planes???

The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have “questionable registration” because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.

Full stop.  I think this one is worth repeating:  “the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights”… This of course is just my opinion, but I think the emphasis should be less on if I have a soda in my bag going thru the airport scanner and more about the exact location and ownership of OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PLANES!?!


For the full amazing story click HERE.