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Internet Gangster Bodyguards

Internet Gangster Bodyguards

 

by Elijah Shaw

First off, what do I know about Gangsters? Well, I’m originally born and bred in Chicago Illinois, the Mecca of some of America’s most notorious gangsters. Al Capone made his bones here and Sam Giancana was so infamous they used part of his life story in The Godfather.

I also grew up in the inner city housing projects of the South Side of Chicago, and would not be overstating it one iota by describing my neighborhood as a warzone between two of the largest street gangs in the nation.

I say all of this to say, that I’ve got a bit of a historical pedigree when it comes recognizing basassness. (For some it’s a word) In short I know gangster. Gangsters do deeds that run the risk of punishment from the powers that be, and live by a code (however corrupt) that forms a philosophy that they latch onto. They do the crime, and even those that think they are invincible know somewhere in the back of their head, that if caught they must face the consequences — in many cases ending with incarceration or even death.

And then there are what I like to term the “Internet Gangsters,” those that use social media to bully, and intimidate the area residents in order to pave the way for their own agenda. Much like in the streets, they try and claim territory, except in this case, instead of neighborhoods and blocks, they try and stake their claim on message boards and news groups.

You know the type, just like the flashy mobsters of old; they try and impress the denizens with tales of their prowess. The give flowery examples of their superiority with a handgun, or hand to hand combat. They hint at their extensive client list that OWES them their life, and boast to whoever’s logged on at the time that they KNOW someone “legendary” that’s done SOMETHING “impressive.” Which I assume by default, makes them legendary as well.

In the urban areas there are two types of gangsters, “OG’s” or Original Gangsters. Individuals who have lived the life ages ago, and by virtue of that past pedigree have the influence and respect of their peers. They often can get away with what other’s cant because they have “been there done that” even if it was 3 decades ago. Then there are the “BG’s” or Baby Gangsters, which are the newcomers that have just entered the gangster lifestyle, and are trying to “earn their strips” by proving how tough they are.

Unfortunately in the Executive Protection community we have both types of gangsters, plying their trade on Social Media, those that look down on civilians and warriors alike for not having their level of experience, as well as those that overdo it so aggressively in an effort to gain recognition and respect that it’s almost comical. If it only affected themselves, that would be one thing, but remember, intimidation is a tool of tradecraft for the Gangster.

That means that on social media their outlet is usually those who are younger, more inexperienced, and less inclined to opposition.   In the message board “neighborhood,” you see it play out in the form of comments and post. The new guy will ask a new guy question, and the response from the “OG” is how dumb a question it is, or reply back in such a condescending manner that the questioner runs for the hills.   And then there’s the “BG” who writes a post or responds to one with such a tall tale about “their client” or the “50 man detail they were involved in” that it’s beyond belief.

The only one spared these attacks? The person that the Original Gangster sets his sights on, for grooming into the gang. That person, usually young and inexperienced, is typically spared the virtual lashing when they ask a question, and encouraged when they write a post that seems to focus more on the negative than the positive. They are being inducted, and without the proper interventions, suddenly they are exhibiting the same traits as the other gangsters.

Gang violence is an epidemic in some communities, and unfortunately it’s also starting to gain a foothold in social media. I mentioned earlier that I grew up in a gang infested neighborhood. One of the things I attribute to making it out of there (relatively) unscathed is the fact that there was “community policing” in the form of concerned citizens who said, “not on my watch, not on my block.” They didn’t stop the gang’s activities but they did make their presence unwelcome and by sheer force of will more than force of arms, compelled the gangs to take their activities a bit further in any direction but there. I vote do the same for Internet Gangsters.

Originally written for The Circuit – The Magazine for the Executive Protection Specialist learn more HERE.

Ex World Champion Boxer Killed in Botched Kidnapping

Ex World Champion Boxer Killed in Botched Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a preferred method of criminal activity in many Central and South American Countries.  The targeting of high net worth individuals is particularly prevalent by the criminal underworld.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Former world champion boxer Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and killed in his native Venezuela, police said Tuesday.

Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found shot to death Tuesday on a road in the central state of Miranda, local police chief Eliseo Guzman said.

Guzman said Cermeno and other relatives were kidnapped Monday night near the La Urbina neighborhood in east Caracas. The relatives escaped when the kidnappers stopped to refuel the car, but the former boxer remained captive, Guzman said.

Cermeno, 44, retired in 2006 with a 45-7 record.

His slaying comes on the heels of the killing of popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear in early January. Robbers killed the 29-year-old and her former husband, Thomas Henry Berry, 39, on an isolated stretch of highway while the couple was returning to the capital by car with their 5-year-old daughter.

The high-profile slayings highlight spiraling violent crime in Venezuela, which is one of the spurs to opposition protests that have rocked the South American country in recent weeks. The United Nations ranks Venezuela’s homicide rate as the fifth highest in the world.

Click HERE for additional details on the story

Rock Band Victims of Virtual Kidnapping in Mexico

Rock Band Victims of Virtual Kidnapping in Mexico

 

The members of the Basque indie-rock band Delorean are safe after having been victims of what police are calling a “virtual kidnapping” in Mexico City, reports El País. The quartet, which was in town to play the local edition of Montreal’s MUTEK festival, was last seen Sunday at the Four Points hotel, in the city’s Colonia Roma district. Police sources say that an unidentified caller phoned the band’s family members in Guipuzkoa, Spain, claiming that the band was being held captive and demanding a ransom of 5 million pesos (roughly $380,000), setting off an international effort to find the musicians.

The kidnappers phoned the musicians and, after passing themselves off as Mexican police, indicated that they were at risk in their current establishment and that they should move to another hotel. Once they were in the second hotel, the kidnappers confiscated their cell phones. Later, a member of the gang contacted a family member of one of the musicians and demanded a ransom payment for their liberation. An updated version of El País‘ story, however, said that the caller claimed to be a member of Mexico’s notorious Zetas gang who advised Delorean member Guillermo Astrain that there would be a shootout at the hotel, and they should move to another hotel for their safety.

Click HERE for the full story.

For more background on the rise of “virtual kidnapping” in Mexico check out the excellent article in the New York Times, HERE.

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An Open Letter to the Bodyguard Community on Domestic Violence Prevention

An Open Letter to the Bodyguard Community on Domestic Violence Prevention

An open letter to the Close Protection Community:

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here’s a sobering fact: there are 145 incidents PER HOUR in the United States. I have always had an opinion that every Protector should have a cause, and to me this is a natural one given the nature of our profession.

For seven years I sat on the Board of Directors of the nations oldest shelter for women who were victims of domestic abuse, so that I could get a better understanding of the challenges they faced and offer some unique perspectives coming from our specialized outlook.

Besides the things I did internally with the organization, it helped shaped the direction of the nonprofit I founded called the ISC-Safety Net Which provides free security services to victims of Domestic Violence and the shelters that serve them.

Dozens of protectors have joined me over the years in contributing to the project, and the Safety-Net along with other organizations such as Angel, founded by Mark James of Panther Protection, plan to be more impactful in the upcoming year.

So this month, I challenge you to apply some of the methodical thinking and problem solving that comes with working our craft to help reduce the above number even if it’s only by one digit.

After all, we do call ourselves, “Protectors,” right?

 

Elijah Shaw

 

South Africa CEO of Chrysler Shot

South Africa CEO of Chrysler Shot

Chrysler’s South Africa CEO was wounded during a robbery outside Johannesburg over the weekend.

Three men attacked Trent Barcroft and his wife, Cathy, on Saturday afternoon after hitting the couple’s Jeep Grand Cherokee from behind, according to media reports and Chrysler SA spokesman Richard Sloman.

When Barcroft stepped out of the car to inspect the damage, Sloman told MSN Autos, he was shot in the abdomen and the three men from the other vehicle stole his watch, wallet and cellphone; they also stole a handbag from his wife, who was unharmed, reports said.

Full Story HERE.

The question to ask is, Could it have been prevented?

*** The above is a preferred method of carjacking and robberies and they have been doing it in South Africa for years, so much so that they have it to a science.  What is troubling is aside from the absence of an Executive Protection Team, is that it appears that Mr. Barcroft, was not aware of these practices to the degree where he had an effective plan to counter.

I asked Benjamin Alozie, the Director of Global Operations for ICON, and an individual with extensive experience in protecting High Net Worth Individuals in Africa, his initial thoughts on the incident-

“There are several tactics robbers employ to stop their victims in places that makes it difficult for the robbers to set up road blocks (Ambush). The one used in this case is a very classic one, bump your car from behind because they know your natural impulse will be to stop, get out of the car angry as hell with the driver that just bumped you. A couple of things to note here is that most criminals are more security aware than their victims so most operations for them are very successful. I have warned clients about how and when to stop when bumped from behind. The environment you are bumped into in is more important for your safety than the bump itself. Remember that if you have a comprehensive vehicle insurance that the bump can be taken care off and if you are a CEO of an organization such as Chrysler one would hope that you have been properly advised.”  

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For more of my thoughts on the matter, click HERE.

Saadi Gaddafi Bodyguard Outlines Escape

Saadi Gaddafi Bodyguard Outlines Escape

Mr. Gary Peters name has been attached to many story surrounding the fall of the Gaddafi family in Lybia, almost to the point where it reads like a Hollywood film.   I’ll say one thing for him, he’s standing by his client to the end.

via:  Lateline

EMMA ALBERICI: What exactly did Saadi Gaddafi ask of you?

GARY PETERS: Nothing was asked of me from Saadi Gaddafi. Ah, my concern and always is with all my clients is their safety, their well-being, their rite of passage, how they’re going to get there. The secondary is their families. The third is their associates. Beginning of 2011, I instigated or tried to begin a process of getting him or extracting him from Libya to a different destination. That was in 2011. Um, why? Because of how I knew how he felt about Libya, how I knew how he felt about the circumstances there, how I knew how he felt about his family. And then my thoughts and my feelings on his safety. Not willing to lose a friend. Not willing to lose a client. And also having feelings of the same way he does about the people of Libya.

EMMA ALBERICI: I’ll just pick you up on that point about knowing what Saadi Gaddafi was feeling. Can you articulate that for us?

GARY PETERS: He wasn’t happy with the situation in Libya. He wasn’t happy with the situation in Benghazi in February when there was a massacre in Benghazi. He had nothing to do with that. The media was reporting that he ordered this and ordered that. That’s rubbish. That’s garbage. He had nothing to do with that massacre. But – he went there because he was ordered to by his father to go and talk to the people. That’s why he went there in February. But the situation in Libya, for the people, for – everything that was happening, he was very distraught about that.

EMMA ALBERICI: You talk about extracting him from Libya; what was the plan?

GARY PETERS: The plan was to get him out of Libya and his family to another destination legally, somebody that would host him, some country that would host him and do everything legally. There was like paperwork, documentation, transportation, air transportation, property acquisition and ongoing security, so to speak. That was the plan. Now he never asked for this. This was done on our own bat to be presented to him to say, “OK, boss, you know, OK, Saadi, this is what I think should happen.”

For the full (and interesting) interview including video, click HERE.

See related HERE.

Partners of US Security Firm Arrested For Alleged Gaddafi Rescue Connection

Partners of US Security Firm Arrested For Alleged Gaddafi Rescue Connection

 

A Canadian who led a fact-finding mission to Libya last summer has been arrested in Mexico, and two partners of the U.S. private security contractor who supplied her plane are also in custody.  The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa confirmed the arrest of Cynthia Vanier and said consular officials at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City were gathering information from local authorities.  Also arrested were two partners of Gregory Gillispie, an ex-Marine who heads Veritas Worldwide Security, a San Diego-based company that offers, among other services, “clandestine operations,” “armed combat” and provision of weapons.

Mr. Gillispie said in an interview his partners were supposed to meet Ms. Vanier and her financier in Mexico City so she could hand over the roughly US$40,000 she owed for a small private jet Veritas had provided for her Libyan trip in July.

“Probably I guess about 10 days to two weeks ago she called and said that the person that has the authority to write the cheques, in other words the person that would pay her, is going to be in Mexico City, if we could come down there, we’ll get paid,” he said.

“So two of my other partners went down there to meet Cindy and this financier, is what you’d call him. And now I’m being told that my two partners have been incarcerated,” he said. “I don’t understand what this is all about.”

He said he found out about the arrests on Sunday but isn’t sure when they occurred. He said the detained men are his business partners in an aviation brokerage company. He doesn’t know why they are being held. “They’re basically victims of circumstance.”

Ms. Vanier runs Vanier Consulting Ltd., incorporated in 2009 in Mount Forest, Ont. The company website describes her as a negotiator, mediator, fact-finder and consultant who works mostly with First Nations.  During the anti-Gaddafi revolution in Libya, she got a contract from an undisclosed financier to travel to Tripoli on a fact-finding expedition and began assembling a team. Mr. Gillispie said his company was contracted to supply a private plane for the trip.

Mexican prosecutors did not respond by deadline to questions about why the three were held, however sources suspect it may be because Security for the trip was provided by Gary Peters, CEO of Can/Aust Security and Investigations International in Cambridge, Ont. A former Australian soldier, Mr. Peters has gone on public recording declaring to be a  member of the Gaddafi family’s security team.  Mr. Peters returned to Canada on the jet but said he went back to Libya in August and helped Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi escape Tripoli to Niger in a convoy. He said he was caught in an ambush after crossing back into Libya and was shot in the shoulder.

For the full story, click HERE and HERE.

 

Pirates Attempt to Seize US Flagged Ship for Third Time

Pirates Attempt to Seize US Flagged Ship for Third Time

Suspected Somali pirates tried to seize the Maersk Alabama again on Tuesday in the third attempt to hijack it in three years.

Four people suspected of being pirates approached the ship in a skiff in which a hook ladder could be seen. When the skiff came within half a nautical mile, the ship’s captain authorized the firing of warning shots.

“Maersk Alabama was approached by a suspicious skiff with four people and a ladder onboard,” said Kevin Speers a spokesman for Maersk Line Limited, the U.S.-flag subsidiary of Denmark’s Maersk Line.

“The captain followed the appropriate protocol and authorized an embarked security team to fire warning shots in order for the pirates to turn away (emphasis mine ~ES). Shortly after, the small boat departed the area astern of the vessel,” Speers said in a statement.

Tuesday’s attempted hijacking was the third time pirates have tried to seize the U.S.-flag container ship. The first two attempts occurred in 2009.

In the spring of 2009, pirates succeeded in boarding the 1,100-TEU containership, which was recaptured by the crew, which had been hiding in a safe room. Capt. Richard Phillips turned himself in to the pirates in exchange for one of his crew, but when the pirates reneged on a deal to free him in exchange for one of their men, U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed two of his captors in a lifeboat where they were holding him. (See video)

For the full story, click HERE.

 

What Happened to Lara Logans Security?

What Happened to Lara Logans Security?

Security Professionals always look at incidents of violence perpetrated against public figures with a slightly different perspective than the general public.  Such was the case when I heard about the tragic story of CBS News Corespondent Laura Logan.  The journalist was a victim first of detention by the Egyptian authorities and following her release and return to the region a brutal assault by a mob.

The offical account goes as such:  The evening of the attack, Ms. Logan, 39, the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, was covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square in central Cairo with a camera crew and an unknown number of security staff members. The CBS team was enveloped by “a dangerous element” within the crowd, CBS said, that numbered more than 200 people. That mob separated Ms. Logan from her team and then attacked her.

I, as well as scores of my peers, have had first hand experience dealing with massive crows that are whipped into such a frenzy that you can feel the threat looming, so much so that it’s almost a tangible thing.  At that point, independent of even the clients wishes, a decision must be made to leave the area for the safety of the Protectee.  You might get chewed out or even fired later, but your client will live to tell the tale.  After initially hearing this story, the obvious question to me was, exactly how did her secuirty team become seperated from her?

While researching I stumbled upon outtakes of an interview Ms. Logan conducted with Esquire Magazine, conducted after the detention, but before the assault, that appeared to shed a little more light on the incident:

Esquire:  On whom she was traveling with:

Laura: “I’m not the only one going back, my producer is coming with me. And with my husband. We made this decision together. And with my boss.”

Esquire: On the precautions they’d be taking:

Laura: “We’ve made sure that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. knows we’re going. They’re fully aware of it. They know what our purpose is, that we’re journalists. We’ve made every effort to try and get media accreditation before we left, but the embassy said because of the backup they couldn’t [get it to us], so they’re trying to help us on the ground. There are no surprises here this time. It is a better plan. Again, it’s not foolproof, you know?”

Esquire: On worrying about a repeat scenario:

Laura: “Sure, of course you can never discount [that], it would be foolish to discount that possibility.”

Esquire: On traveling with private security:

Laura:No. We are not. It’s been so chaotic. I think we do have a security person on with us now, on our team, but I haven’t had a chance to even address that.” (emphasis mine ~ES)

While in no way placing the blame of the assault on Laura Logan herself, I do think at least at the time of the interview, security was an afterthought.   There may or may not have been a trained agent from the states with her, and if there was, his available resources may have been minimal.  It is also likely that a local(s) could have been used, at which point the vetting process could have been anywhere on the scale of “bad” to “very bad’.  It is also possible that none of this was the case and the network provided Mrs. Logan with an equipped team of seasoned security professionals qualified to go into a potential hot spot with their primary responsibility of protecting their client — not of making sure she got an award winning news story.  It’s possible, but based off of my personal experiences, unlikely.

This is a story i’ll be following with great interest, and it is my hope that corporations placing their employees in hostile situations overseas begin to recognize the value of being proactive with security.  Sadly, Laura Logan has paid a high price for that lesson.

~Elijah Shaw

US Military Used As Escorts For Hire in Yemen?

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.

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The International Executive Protection Conference is Underway

December 7, 2014

The International Executive Protection Conference is Underway

Wrapped up a great day at the 2014 International Executive Protection & Secure Transportation Conference. While I got there a bit late due to an ongoing assignment, I had a chance to hear the majority of today’s presenters, catch up with professional colleagues that I had not seen in awhile, host an Alumni Only meeting […]

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Working Independently or Joining an Agency?

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ICON Academy Executive Protection Social Summit Speakers List

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Dr. Paul Viollis to Deliver Keynote Address at ICON Social Summit

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  The ICON Academy is proud to announce Dr. Paul Viollis, PH D will be delivering the keynote address at the 2nd Annual ICON Academy Social Summit, January 25 & 26, 2014 in Orlando, FL.  The Summit was created for members of the Executive Protection Community to network and discuss best practices in a contemporary […]