The holiday season is here and for most of us, it's a time for shopping, gift-giving, and reconnecting with loved ones. For the terrorist, the holiday season is an opportune time to attack.
The religious component to this cannot be ignored. Terrorists groups like ISIS, AQ and other jihadists, find Hanukkah and Christmas an especially attractive time to attack. Fueled by their hatred for the "people of the book" (a euphemism for Christians and Jews), these groups have called on their followers to attack churches, synagogues, and other public celebrations during this time of year.
If you've attended any of our counter-terrorism or security training, you've heard us say, "the best way to survive an attack is to see it before it's coming." You can't do that if you don't know what to look for. So, here's a few signs to pay attention to as you're out in public.
1. Covert Surveillance. Terrorists usually conduct surveillance to gather information on their target prior to an attack. Activities such as recording, monitoring, or photographing of an area should raise red flags. Of course, people take photographs in public all the time. The question is, why are they taking photos? Are they taking selfies of themselves having fun with friends? Or, are they taking photos of security cameras, entrances and security personnel. Intent is what matters here.
2. Attempts at Elicitation. Pay attention to anyone one attempting to elicit information about the environment, buildings, or operations. Elicitation is an overt act that requires the terrorist to make contact. I know churches who have had visitors inquire about their security programs. In Boston, I met a police officer who used to work security at a mall part-time. A certain individual repeatedly engaged him to ask questions about police response time and other security matters related to the mall. That same individual was later arrested and is serving time in federal prison for, among other things, planning an terrorist attack at that mall!
3. Security Tests. Any attempts to measure the reaction time to a security breach or gain access to a restricted area should be taken seriously. Terrorist often conduct these tests to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the security apparatus.
If we all keep our eyes open and know what to look for, we can better protect ourselves and our communities this holiday season. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, so let's keep it that way.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
Situational awareness (SA) is more than just “keeping your head on a swivel,” or “staying vigilant.” SA is the presence of mind to know where you are, what is happening around you, and what could happen based on the circumstances. It’s about connection to your environment.
There's plenty of videos and articles discussing what SA is and what it looks like, but few tell you how to do it. The results are that many adopt a paranoid or hyper-vigilant posture, mistaking that for situational awareness. This approach may work in the short term, but it quickly fizzles out.
A good example is when I run law enforcement officers through counter-surveillance exercises. Typically, I’ll take them out to a mall or public venue where I've arranged for an assistant to covertly follow the group. The class is divided up into teams and given the task finding the person tailing them. This typically results in a number of false positives.
The group is so hyper-vigilant, anyone glancing at them or catching their attention immediately becomes suspect. By the time we’re done, the officers are convinced that there are half a dozen or more following them!
Practicing good situational awareness is your best chance to thwart an attack before it happens, but you can see it coming if you don’t know what to look for. So how do you do it? I recently did an interview with a local media outlet on this very topic. You can check it out by clicking here.
Honing your situational awareness skills takes work, but it's not rocket science. Although we delve more deeply into the mechanics of SA in our courses, this is the basic framework that will get you started.
Security is about detection and deterrence. Once the attack occurs, you're security protocols have failed. Now you're in response mode and damage control.
Remember, security is about detection and deterrence. Once the attack occurs, your security protocols have failed. Now you’re in response mode or damage control. Observing and knowing how to interact with the information you receive is critical to detecting and deterring threats.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Counter-Terrorism; Covert Police Intelligence Operations; or other security and tactical training programs, please contact us today.
Until then, be on the lookout for next week. I'll finish up on what to do when you encounter suspicious activity.
Rubicon Training Group
PS: Again, you can check out my video interview here by clicking here. After you watch it, hit that reply button and let me know how you’re keeping yourself alert and aware when you’re on the move. Talk soon!
On September 23, 2013, Nihom Thephakasyon, boarded a commuter train in San Francisco, drew a .45 caliber handgun and pointed it across the aisle. He continued to put the weapon away and pull it out several times. Lost in their smart phones, no one ever looked up until he shot Jason Valdez, a local college student, in the back.
It's hard to imagine anyone could be so disconnected from their surroundings, but even subtle distractions can lead to deadly results. Last year, police, military personnel, and members of the public were injured, even killed in ambushes and other surprise attacks. Many of the victims were trained – even highly trained, so situational awareness is a topic that warrants our attention. (This is Part II of our Bulletproofing Yourself series. If you haven't had a chance to read the initial post, just click here.)
Awareness is the foundation of self-protection. It's the number weapon in your arsenal that can keep you alive. If you’re not aware, it’s doubtful that you can respond in time when the attack comes.
There are 2 components to Awareness: Alertness and Presence. Alertness is the quality of nimbleness that allows you to respond to a situation with celerity. It helps you stay ahead of the enemy and keep the momentum in your favor. If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being caught “flat-footed,” chances are you weren’t in a proper state of alertness.
You are hardwired to be alert. It’s not something you learn, it’s something you maintain. Nature has endowed us with our own survival instincts for preservation as other animals in the wild. The difference is that civilization and technology has left us more distracted, less reliant upon our instincts than we were in the past. The impulse is still there, just dormant.
The key to reviving your latent abilities lies in avoiding those factors that threaten to degrade them. It may come as a surprise, but the 3 greatest distractors that compete with your mind’s ability to stay sharp are:
In our next post, we will explain why these are the biggest mental distractors and how each of these elements hamper your ability to remain alert. The elements are a part of life. You can't avoid them indefinitely, so I'll share some tips on how to and manage them so you can stay in tune with your environment.
This training comes from the world of security and executive protection, but the principles are applicable if you’re a sniper, a cop out on patrol, or just a security-minded citizen on vacation with your family. The information may challenge the way you look at situational awareness, so look in your inbox for that.
Once we wrap up Alertness, we’ll tackle the second component of Awareness: Presence. You definitely don’t want to miss that one.
Until then, tell me what you think about the distractors I listed above. What do you think about the list? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
As you know, 2016 was a banner year in this country for violence and mayhem.
Domestic Terror attacks increased dramatically. In the last 18 months, we’ve suffered at least 10 jihadist attacks in this country – that’s over 1 attack every 2 months. It’s unprecedented.
Law enforcement came under siege as our police were ambushed and gunned down on the streets by leftist groups and criminal thugs. In the first half of 2016 alone, shooting deaths of police officers were up 78 percent!
As police experienced increased threats, so did we. The latest FBI Crime Statics show that murder and violent crimes against the public were up in 2016. If ever there was a time to Bullet Proof ourselves, the time is now.
I’m not fear mongering here. America is still a safe place, but you have to admit, these facts are concerning.
So, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to “Bullet Proof” ourselves in this still relatively new 2017?
First of all, we’re going to own this problem. We’re going to methodically and systematically implement our own personal security system that is principled-based. Then, we’re going to scale that out to those we protect – our families and members of our community. So where do we start?
Any valid personal security system must be founded on 3 fundamental principles designed to:
Most programs focus on one, maybe two of these principles. Our goal is to ensure our training and practices integrate all three. In subsequent posts, we're going to delve more into what these principles mean and how to apply them – starting with much abused and misunderstood concept of Awareness.
Until then, leave a comment below and let me know what you’re doing to improve your own security. Remember, people are depending on you.
Rubicon Training Group
When it comes to fighting terrorism, the Israelis are a proven brand. This became clear to me when I traveled to the West Bank recently to train at a counter-terrorism academy staffed by members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
The training was intense, dynamic, and yes - fun. Not only did I get to train with the world's top security experts, but I also gained some insight into the changing nature of terrorism and how the IDF was adapting to fight it. The Israeli perspective offers those of us in the West something to think about as we struggle with our own battle against terrorism:
After more than a decade and two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan later, much of what we thought we knew about fighting terrorism and insurgencies has turned on its head. The attacks in Paris confirm what we’ve already seen in places like Mumbai and Nairobi: that the battleground is shifting away from rural, more isolated areas (like the caves of Afghanistan) to more densely populated urban centers. The city is the battleground of choice for terrorists in the 21st century. And the urban siege, the method of using multiple coordinated attacks executed simultaneously is the enemy’s tactic of choice.
No doubt, terrorists have targeted urban centers since the 1960’s, but those attacks focused more on sensationalism and generating attention rather than the body count. The attacks were more limited in size and scope as well.
The Origins of the Urban Siege – Mumbai
The 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, became the template for the style of urban assault we saw in Paris. In November of that year, members of a militant Islamic group fanned out across the city to conduct a series of 12 coordinated attacks lasting 4 days. When the smoke cleared, ten terrorists with small arms and explosives managed to kill 173 people and injure over 300 more.
The Mumbai attack became the standard that other terrorists used when planning their urban assaults. Starting in 2009, South Asia saw a string of similar attacks, which then spread outside the region culminating in the Westgate attack in Nairobi during 2013.
Paris: Urban Siege Perfected
The lessons of South Asia and Africa gave the jihadists a virtual laborartory by which to watch, observe and experiment before bringing their tactical and operational innovations to bear in France. And look at the results. In one night, jihadists precipitated the worst attack on French soil since World War II, leaving 130 dead and another 350 injured. The fact that the jihadists hit a Western nation with the lethality to rival that of the Mumbai attack, all the while operating with fewer attackers on a shorter timeline is truly disconcerting.
"The city is the battleground of choice for terrorists in the 21st Century."
Security Lessons for Law Enforcement
Lessons for the Private Citizen
If you find yourself in the crosshairs on an attack, these 3 items may save your life:
Alea Iacta Est
The term "urban siege" first appeared in an article entitled “Postcard from Mumbai: Modern Urban Siege,” Small Wars Journal, 16 February 2009, and “Preventing Another Mumbai: Building a Police Operational Art,” 15 June 2009.
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The terror threat level in the US is high, and the situation is getting worse. According to the Homeland Security Committee, there have been more US-based jihadist terror cases in 2015 than any full year since 9/11.
A new era is emerging in world of terrorism and the lone wolf is leading the charge. Whether it was Timothy McVeigh, the bomber who murdered scores of people in the Oklahoma City, or Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the gunman who executed 2 New York City police officers in cold blood, these lone wolves have shown us that they can be just as deadly as any state sponsored terror group.
The question is who are these terrorists and what can we do to stop them?
There is a common perception that nothing can be done to prevent these attacks, but that is wrong. By adopting a proactive response, we can protect ourselves and our communities from these homegrown attacks. But it takes knowledge. It takes training.
Join us September 30, 2015, from 2pm-3:30pm EST for the FREE training webinar. We will guide you through this often confusing topic of Lone Wolf Terrorism. Discussion topics include:
- 5 Different Types of Lone Wolf Terrorists
- The Ultimate Goal of a Terrorist (hint: it not just to kill, maim, and terrorize)
- How terrorism is impacting your local community
- Myths and Realities about “The Lone Wolf” and why most of what you’ve been told is WRONG
- Why terrorists are targeting law enforcement officers
- The type of attacks you are likely to face and suggestions for surviving as many as possible
- How to prepare for the coming danger, threat, and the new breed of terrorist attacks
There will be a live Q&A session after the training, so have your questions ready.
Who should attend: members of the military, law enforcement, and security-minded individuals.
Availability is limited, so click below and register today!
Churches around the world are becoming targets for protests, predators, and even terrorist. America is not immune. Since 2012, violent attacks in churches experienced an increase of 36% nationwide.
The openness of our churches makes them easy targets for criminals and other individuals seeking to cause harm. Even in a small congregation, there may be people dealing with extreme emotional upheaval and problems at home. These problems have the potential to spill over into the congregation putting others at risk.
The key to effective security lies in prevention. In today's climate, our security teams must be able to both recognize suspicious behavior, and deal with trouble in an effective and humane way.
Through the use of lecture, table-top discussions, and practical exercises, topics will cover:
"The Key to Effective Security Lies in Planning..."
Concept of the Training
Rubicon Training Group believes security is the responsibility of individual. Therefore, some of the content in Session 1 can be delivered to all members of the congregation in a seminar style format. We believe this will enhance the overall security by raising awareness among all members.
We offer this program in half day, 1 day or 2 day formats. For more information, please contact us at info@RubiconTrainingGroup.com.