I was raised in a flat in the east end of London and born to a Lebanese mother and father. I can remember that while growing up my parents refused to speak English in the house and only Arabic, like any youth I rebelled against my parents and I refused to speak Arabic telling my parents that we lived in England and not Lebanon and therefore we had no need to speak Arabic any longer. I remember my father telling me that it was important that I remembered how to speak Arabic and that one day it would help me.
When I first started working in the field of Executive Protection, one of my first jobs was to provide protection to an American woman who had fled an abusive relationship with her 4 year old son from her husband who was a Saudi Arabian national. We had been hired by the woman’s father to insure that she and his grandson were able to get back to the United States safely. I was working on a team of all Brits like myself who were former Para’s and SBS.
The 3 hour flight from King Khalid Airport was uneventful for the most part and we landed in Amsterdam for a connecting flight to Houston Texas. When we arrived at Amsterdam Schipol Airport the team leader directed me to stay with the clients while he and another team member walked off the aircraft to scout ahead. While sitting next to the client I became aware of an Arabic voice speaking to another man almost directly across from where we were sitting. The man stated “That is her and the boy; we will take the boy when they are not paying attention.” The other man then stated “Kallid will be happy.”
I suddenly became aware that these two men had been hired by the husband of the woman and had been watching us and making plans to snatch the boy and before things went any further, I quickly wrote a note and passed it over to the other team member who immediately got up and went to find the team leader.
When the team members returned to the plane they were accompanied by two of Netherlands finest. The Police immediately asked the two men what their business was in the Netherlands and the men answered in English that they were going to visit some friends in Amsterdam, while they continued with their lies; the client and her son were moved off the plane by the ATL and another EP specialist. I stayed on board with the Team Leader and we continued listening to the men.
I asked one of the Police officers if I could say something and was told “yes.” I turned to the two men and told them in Arabic that I heard everything they had said. The shock on these two individuals face was priceless and their story soon seemed to fall apart shortly after. The individuals were taken off the plane by the authorities and were taken away.
Our team had no further dramas and we arrived with our clients 12 hours later in Houston.
The motto of my story is simply this, being able to speak a foreign language is a tool that will help you. I would highly recommend to any EP specialist or those planning on entering into the field to learn a foreign language. Being bi-lingual has helped me find numerous jobs in the Middle East and on many occasions has also helped me to make more money because of the specialty skill that I had to offer employers.
It is always hard for any Alpha male type personality to admit when they are wrong. My father passed away in 1988 and I was never able to tell him; Father, you were right and I was wrong.