Paris, Bamako and the Value of Active Shooter Training

 

The recent terrible events in Paris and Bamako illustrate the importance of active shooter awareness and response training for the average traveler. In the US active shooter training is frequently presented in the context of a workplace violence incident. This is just one possible scenario however. Even within the US there is a good chance if you encounter an active shooter it may occur outside the workplace in some other republic space like a shopping mall.

While Paris is not thought of as a high risk destination is has been the site of several notable terrorist attacks recently the Charlie Hebdo attack and the multiple target attacks of 13 November 2015. In these events as in the Mumbai attacks, the Nairobi Westgate Mall and the attack on the Radisson Hotel in Bamako there is an increasing shift by terrorists away from using explosive devices to team attacks using small arms and basic tactics. This has proven very effective for terrorist groups as the attacks are relatively low tech, can produce high casualty counts and can continue for a sustained period of time, especially in locations where law enforcement and security forces are less capable.

Therefore it’s important for travelers to understand and be able to implement active shooter response methods.

The basic model for active shooter response is the “Run-Hide-Fight” protocol. This is described in this video produced by the City of Houston: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/active-shooter-and-mass-casualty-incidents/run-hide-fight-video

103_0038

 

We also discussed this here back in October 2012: https://protectiveconcepts.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/active-shooter-situations/

Additional resources are available from the US Department of Homeland Security and can be found here: http://www.dhs.gov/publication/active-shooter-how-to-respond

Reviewing and understanding these basic concepts can be the difference between living and dying in a violent event. While there are no ironclad rules that will keep you safe it’s important to have a framework and options for response should you find yourself in the middle of one of these events.

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention Now Available in Paperback

Kidnapping_Avoidance_Cover_for_Kindle (2)

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention from Integrated Protective Concepts is now available in paperback format from Amazon.com.  The book was previously released in E-Book format for Kindle and compatible readers.

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention is a 70-page book that covers proactive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of falling victim to a kidnapping.  Here is a little bit about the content:

A confused tourist gets into the wrong taxi and is expressed kidnapped. A businessman is lured to a bogus meeting and held for ransom. An expatriate consultant is kidnapped after being stopped at an impromptu roadblock. A journalist goes for an interview that turns horribly wrong. A bank manager’s family is held hostage to force him to access bank funds. Kidnapping is a pervasive crime that takes many forms around the world. Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention will help you understand the different types of kidnappings, how they occur and how to identify ways you can better protect yourself, your family and your personnel. In this book you will learn:

• About different types of kidnappings

• How kidnappers select their victims and the process and methods they use • How to assess your vulnerability

• How to recognize potential ruses and traps

• How to limit information about yourself and your movements

• How to recognize surveillance and other pre-incident activity

• How to use OPSEC principles to protect yourself

 • How to use force multipliers to mitigate risk

• Where to find additional resources

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention doesn’t discuss hostage survival or how to handle a kidnapping event; rather it concentrates on proactive measures that can be used to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a kidnapping.

Both paperback and Kindle versions are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Kidnapping-Avoidance-Prevention-Integrated-Protective/dp/1494762943/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389880826&sr=1-1&keywords=kidnapping+avoidance

Both versions are also available on many international Amazon sites such as France, UK and Spain.

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention

Kidnapping_Avoidance_Cover_for_Kindle (2)

Protective Concepts is pleased to announce the release of  the new book Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention.  Originally planned for first or second quarter 2013 it got a bit delayed but is now available as a Kindle E-book.  A paperback version of the book is in production and should be available in January 2014.  Please see a brief description below:

A confused tourist gets into the wrong taxi and is expressed kidnapped. A businessman is lured to a bogus meeting and held for ransom. An expatriate consultant is kidnapped after being stopped at an impromptu roadblock. A journalist goes for an interview that turns horribly wrong. A bank manager’s family is held hostage to force him to access bank funds.Kidnapping is a pervasive crime that takes many forms around the world. Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention will help you understand the different types of kidnappings, how they occur and how to identify ways you can better protect yourself, your family and your personnel.

In this book you will learn:

• About different types of kidnappings
• How kidnappers select their victims and the process and methods they use
• How to assess your vulnerability
• How to recognize potential ruses and traps
• How to limit information about yourself and your movements
• How to recognize surveillance and other pre-incident activity
• How to use OPSEC principles to protect yourself
• How to use force multipliers to mitigate risk
• Where to find additional resources

Kidnapping Avoidance & Prevention doesn’t discuss hostage survival or how to handle a kidnapping event; rather it concentrates on proactive measures that can be used to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a kidnapping.

Some additional administrative notes:  The Kindle E-Book version sells for $4.99 USD.   The paperback version when it becomes available will sell for around $14.00 USD.  The original formatting was done for the paperback version so there may be some awkward sections in the E-Book version depending on the particular reader you are using.  Regardless any version should be completely readable.
Questions and comments are welcome and should be emailed to integratedprotectiveconcepts@gmail.com.

When Cultural Faux Pas and Inadvertent Rule-Breaking Lead to Detention

Photog

US citizen Shezanne Cassim and four other men are currently being detained in United Arab Emirates for making a satirical film about a fictional martial arts school in Satwa neighborhood of Dubai.  The 20-minute film, which follows the format of shows like Fight Quest and Human Weapon begins with the film makers visiting the fictional “Satwa Combat School” and meeting the instructor Saloom Snake to learn about his system.  A link to the New York Times article and the You Tube video is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/world/middleeast/united-arab-emirates-satirical-video.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fworld%2Fmiddleeast%2Findex.jsonp

Dubai authorities clearly didn’t think the film was funny and Cassim and his cohorts are facing charges of threatening national security and endangering public order.  While this may seem strange to many western observers, this incident really illustrates the risk of not knowing or unintentionally violating local rules.  This problem is particularly acute in locations where there may be mixed messages.  There is the Dubai that is known for its incredible shopping malls, indoor skiing, the Palm Jumeirah and its upscale nightclubs and bars.  Many visitors and expatriates have no issue in Dubai and most don’t even feel like they are in the Middle East.  This can create a dangerous complacency.  While the UAE is in no way as conservative as Saudi Arabia, there are conservative elements there and laws that may have been unwittingly violated can be enforced strictly.

This is true in many locations around the world.  Local laws and cultural mores may be very different from what western travelers and expatriates are accustomed to in their home countries of even in foreign countries that are more like their own.  Many of us have grown up in societies where questioning authority was completely permissible and often the norm.  This is not the case in many countries.  Insulting the king is a criminal offense in Morocco and Thailand for example.

Additionally actions you take and things you possess may also result in detention by local authorities.  Travelers in the developing world and in security-conscious countries need to be very careful about what they photograph.  One classic example is taking pictures at the airport, which will get you arrested in some countries or at least get the camera confiscated.  The same is true for photographing other critical infrastructure like ports, bridges, etc. as well government buildings, police & military personnel and political activity.  Carry a satellite phone is prohibited in some countries, requires special licensing in others and will draw unwanted attention in others.  This is not to say you should never carry one but check local laws and weigh the need before traveling.  We have two other articles that further address this issue:  Blending in and the Gray Man (https://protectiveconcepts.wordpress.com/?s=gray+man) and Sanitize Yourself for Travel (https://protectiveconcepts.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/sanitize-yourself-for-travel).

Other activities like promoted your religious beliefs or taking part in local political activities such as demonstrations and protests can get you arrested and detained.  Sometimes the enforcement come at the hands of local citizens and not the authorities, especially if the activity is not technically illegal.

Probability: Looking at Likelihood When Assessing Personal Risk

116_1693

There is a tendency to be drawn to the more exotic, spectacular or exciting threats when considering personal risk rather than the more likely but more mundane threats.  In many parts of the developing world your greatest risk is a vehicle accident.  Poorly maintained vehicles, lack or total absence of professional driver training and licensing, bad roads and sometimes a lackadaisical attitude towards safety in general make this a real concern many places.  This is often compounded in places where modern medical care is severely lacking and all but the most minor medical issues require evacuation.  In an environment like this injuries sustained in a traffic accident that might be very manageable elsewhere in the world can be fatal.

While conducting a recent threat assessment in East Africa following the Westgate Mall attack, it was difficult to get the consumers of the report to appreciate the full spectrum of threat that exists apart from terrorism.  Yes, terrorism is a very real concern and the relative success of the Westgate attack (a low tech attack using limited numbers that produced high casualties and went on for days capturing worldwide media attention) may encourage further, similar actions.  Any further attacks will likely occur at soft targets where visitors and expatriates are likely to be such as hotels, transit hubs, shopping venues and so forth.  That said, Nairobi is a city racked by violent crime and for the average visitor or resident this is a much greater risk than terrorism.  There is a much greater chance of being carjacked, and possibly murdered in the process than there is of being present during a terrorist attack.

When assessing your personal risk in a particular location and perhaps basing whether or not you will go or what mitigation measures you will put in place, it’s important to consider the full threat spectrum and consider the likelihood or probability of each type of threat so that you don’t get so caught up with the more spectacular threat that is receiving massive coverage on CNN that you ignore the more probable threats that might be right in front of you.

Situational Awareness & Technology

21255909-running-woman-jogging-on-beach-listening-to-music-in-earphones-from-smart-phone-mp3-player-smartphon

We have often discussed the importance of situational awareness and its role in keeping yourself safe.  This pertains not only to personal security but to general personal safety as well.  The massive use of different handled devices has had a demonstrative effect on the situational awareness of most of the public.

The other day while running on relatively remote trail I passed a young lady walking with ear buds in her ears listening to music.  She seemed to be totally oblivious to what was going on around her and didn’t notice me until I was within a few feet of her.   This encounter is a good example of the degree of vulnerability that many people put themselves in on a daily basis.   At the risk of sounding like a male chauvinist this vulnerability is particularly acute for females who for several reasons may be a more attractive target than a male.

While this phenomenon is not new – and my example of the girl with the ear buds could be equated to people zoning out with Walkmans in the ‘80s – it’s definitely intensified with the proliferation and popularity of a variety of devices.    Personal computer sales are down and hand held device sales are up.  New technology has brought us great advantages, from increased productivity to increased mobility and in some respects increased freedom.  Not only are we no longer tied to a desk but there are also benefits for personal security in the form of increased communication ability, GPS and others.

However these devices have a way of commanding our attention that can be unhealthy.   One only has to look at the tragic accidents that have occurred when drivers who were focused on texting rather than the road collided with another vehicle or a pedestrian.  This same concern applies to personal security.

Most criminals give off some indicators before they act.  Sometimes it may be more subtle than others but there is almost always some kind of target assessment that occurs and usually a final check – often a glance over the shoulder or a “9-3-6” head movement to check for potential interference and maybe for escape routes before the attack.  These actions are detectable, especially if you know what to look for and….if you are looking.

Respected combatives instructor Kelly McCann describes the issue of a victim not noticing the attacker prior to the attack in the following quote:

“Criminals physically occupy space before they attack.  They have to see their victims so they’re usually in the victim’s line of sight.  They’re just not noticed by their victims who are preoccupied, disinterested or disinclined to believe any violent crime could possibly happen to them”

That sums it up pretty well.  You can only notice these signs if you are paying attention to your environment. You can only pay attention to your environment if you are not distracted by something else.  While we should never be in Condition White in public we need to be particularly attentive at certain times as we have discussed before:  Chokepoints, arrivals, departures and identified high risk areas.  These are times when the devices should be put away and we should focus on the world around us.  Even when we are not at these critical points we should attempt to use our devices in a light Condition Yellow if we are in public.  Don’t get totally absorbed in what you are doing.  Lift your head regularly and look around, keep some level of awareness about your environment.

Back to the original example of the girl with the ear buds.  Hearing is one of our senses that we use for survival and we should think carefully before effectively shutting it off with earphones and depriving ourselves of that sense.  They are times when it is safe to do this, maybe working out in a gym or running on a track during a busy time when other people are using it or sitting in an airport waiting for your next flight.  Should you use earphones running on that same track by yourself at night?  Walking down a city street?  I wouldn’t do it.  Good situational awareness will keep you out of many if not most problems so be careful not to handicap yourself and use technology smartly.

Safe Travel Abroad is now available in Paperback

SafeTravelAbroadBookCoverPreview

We are pleased to announce that Safe Travel Abroad – previously available as a Kindle E-book is now also available in a paperback version.  You can find it on amazon.com or by clicking here: http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Travel-Abroad-Individual-Expatriates/dp/1484871987/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1370690870&sr=1-1.

The cover has a slightly different look but the content is the same.  The decision to come out with a hard copy version was based on several requests to use it as a training text, an on-the-shelf reference and by several people who just prefer a paper book or who don’t use e-readers.

The paperback version has a list price of $14.00 but is currently selling for $12.56 on Amazon.  In comparison the Kindle version is only $2.99 and is available for free loan to Amazon Prime members.

Below is a brief description:

Do you travel or live abroad? Do you know how to protect yourself from criminal and terrorist threats? How do you decide which hotel to use? What are the risks of taking taxis in some cities? What do you need to know about dealing with the police and your local contacts in foreign countries? How can seemingly innocent items you pack in your suitcase get you into trouble with local authorities? Safe Travel Abroad goes beyond what is usually found in travel security books and government issued travel information and includes new information on protecting yourself overseas. Learn about assessing the risks associated with your travel, applying surveillance detection techniques and route selection. Learn how to choose hotels and residences overseas. Discover the common myths and pitfalls associated with travel security and learn how to avoid them. Understand ways to reduce your risk through proper planning and preparation. Integrated Protective Concepts applies over 20 years of experience working and traveling in more than 50 countries on 5 continents to bring you usable information that you can apply immediately to protect yourself overseas.