By Yoni.C – Executive Protection Specialist
2 Different Worlds
Through my experience in the Executive Protection industry, I have tried many times to understand what our principals are thinking and what goes on in their heads.
Their minds tick in a very strange way and the truth is, no matter how hard we try we will never be able to understand things the way our principals see them, we are basically in 2 different worlds and their world is light-years away from our world as Executive Protection officers.
Some see their EP Agents as security paranoid freaks, whilst they think that in their “ideal world” they will never be victims.
Our job is to protect high profile individuals from any sort of harm; our mind is constantly working hard to find solutions to make our principals safer and to build a “bubble” around them whilst they go about their day-to-day activities and usual business and meetings.
It is very rare to come across a principal that will be on the same wavelength as his EP Agent and who will listen to his agent regarding security issues. It is simply a matter of 2 different worlds and although the Agent can advise his principal and write reports on current threats and changes that need to be made, the final word and decision will always come from the principal.
Vulnerability over time
There are various reasons why our principals may become vulnerable and through time the people we protect may become over confident, they think nothing can happen to them, they forget what and who they are and that they may be somebody’s target, they go to the best restaurants and hotels, high profile events and meetings, they stay in their circle of friends and associates who are in the same world as them, they become detached from the real world.
The Executive Protection Agent can become an “accessory” in the eyes of his principal over time; and his boss may not always see what goes on behind the scenes.
The EP Agent gets up before his principal and checks the schedule for the day, he consults and meets with all the staff and drivers to make sure everybody is on the same wavelength and has the same information, he checks the cars and gets the driver/s ready, he makes sure all the equipment needed is in the car (First Aid Kit, Weapons etc.)
If he has time he carries out an advance/reconnaissance of the location that his boss is going to for a meeting, he makes phone calls regarding the schedule for the day and may be tasked to book hotels and restaurants, he plans routes and itineraries, he makes sure the principal has his daily paper and water in his car everyday on the way to work, the EP agent now stands for most of the day outside meeting rooms. The attitude and behavior of the EP Agent at work may well determine the final outcome and fait of his principal*
After the day’s work once the principal has gone to bed, the Agent is already thinking about tomorrow and how to make the principal’s life safer and smoother.
He now checks all the doors and windows are locked, that the Security guard is in place, he then goes to his room and checks and cleans his equipment, he prepares his clothes and irons his shirt for the next day.
Another day starts tomorrow…
That was a very basic and simple example of some of the things that an EP agent does everyday, many of the people we protect have busy and stressful lives, not many will pay attention to details and not many know what goes on behind the scenes, they think nobody wants to harm them and that they are safe, nothing has happened in the past 5 years so they must be safe right?
Wrong, that is what they tell themselves and what they think, but the real reason is that they have been safe because actually the EP Agent has been highly professional and been exemplary during all those years.
Hostile Planning Cycle
A group of criminals planning on attacking the principal will be going through the Hostile Planning Cycle and during Phase 2 of initial surveillance of the target, they will determine during this phase if the target is a soft or hard target, and if the Agent is professional and has his wits about him, the outcome may be that the criminals go back to Phase 1 and choose another target that will be easier to hit successfully.
Over confidence and loss of reality over time
At this stage the principal starts to become over confident, he goes out more and more often without his Agent, he gives him more holiday time, he now uses his agent to pick up guests at the airport, he sends him to buy cigarettes and uses him as a handy man, the Agent is not needed anymore and the principal spends most of his time out of the house without his Agent.
The principal made more money through the years and is now the CEO of 2 different companies; the criminals targeting him for the past few months did not miss the fact that he is now often driving alone in his car without his EP agent.
The principal feels that he is safe behind glass and at the wheel of his powerful car, but glass unfortunately does not stop bullets and a car is never and has never been a safe place to hide, once the criminals have immobilized the car, the principal will quickly be extracted and kidnapped.
The CEO’s and HNW individuals we protect also have families and children; they often tend to forget that their family will also be targeted. In the principal’s mind and because the principal feels nothing can happen to him, why should his son or daughter benefit from any form of Protection?
The number of CEO’s without an EP agent or Team is high, some have never wanted protection and will carry on that way until they get hit or until their families get hit.
The look on their faces when their family or when they get kidnapped is a look of complete shock and surprise. “How can this be happening to me?”
The Human nature factor
Human nature is such that most human beings think, “It won’t happen to me”.
I suggest readers take a look at this report and study:
THE CONTROLLABILITY OF NEGATIVE LIFE EXPERIENCES MEDIATES UNREALISTIC OPTIMISM
Recent cases to study involving the families of High Profile CEO’s
As stated above in this article, the only way in which we can stop CEO’s and celebrities from being victimized is by providing a professional EP service, precise and concise Security and Threat assessments.
Many executives feel safe in their car or at home in their own country, for example in the US many executives only want EP Agents when they travel as there is no threat in the US and this has never been more untrue at this point in time.
This is a case that amazes me and is a case that everyone should study as the group that carried out the operation were in no way professionals and gathered all their intelligence from Internet Open Source.
Ivan Kaspersky, son of Evgeny Kaspersky was declared missing on the 19th of April 2011.
Ivan Kaspersky’s parents, Evgeny and Natalya Kaspersky, co-founded global computer software security company Kaspersky Labs in 1997.
Russian Software Tycoon Profile
“Evgeny Kaspersky is considered to be one of the wealthiest men in Russia and was recently ranked just outside the Forbes’ 100 rich-list in that country,”
Evgeny Kaspersky’s business is a rare story of Russian global business success outside the energy sector. The Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $800 million.
Details of the Kidnapping
Five suspects, three of whom proved to be members of one family – an elderly couple and their 30-year old son, aided by two younger friends, snatched the young man.
A 61-year-old Muscovite, who has a history of past convictions, and his 64-year-old wife allegedly committed the crime in an attempt to pay off loans, an unnamed source in the Moscow police told Interfax.
The kidnappers gathered the necessary information about the younger Kaspersky from the Internet. Among other things, they found out that he studied at an ordinary Moscow university and had no bodyguards.
“While preparing for their crime, the detainees established where Ivan Kaspersky worked and snatched him not far from his office in one of Moscow’s industrial areas,” Interfax quoted the source as saying.
The kidnappers made Ivan get into their car and put a woollen hat over his head, so that his eyes were completely covered. After having sufficiently covered their tracks, the suspects brought the young man to their safe house in the Moscow Region, locked him in a bathhouse and demanded he call his parents for a ransom.
It is actually amazing that one of the world’s top fortunes had not thought of hiring Executive Protection Agents for his son.
We are talking about a “security minded” man that works in computer security, a man who has close ties with the FSB and many friends in the agency and who knows all too well that in Russia, kidnappings are not very rare.
“According to Life News, Ivan Kaspersky maintained a social networking profile that may have revealed his contact information.”
How can these things happen at this sort of level?
Even if it was not deemed necessary to provide the Kaspersky son with protection, why was he not included in the threat and security assessments?
Why didn’t anyone working for Evegeny Kaspersky research his son on the Internet and warn off the family that creating profiles on open source social networking sites was very dangerous and that the fact that the son was exposing himself was putting him at risk.
I chose this second case because it poses a close resemblance to the Kaspersky Kidnapping.
The son of the vice president of Russian oil giant Rosneft was freed in the early hours of Thursday (18/06/2009), some three months after being kidnapped in Moscow, a senior investigator said.
Mikhail Stavsky’s son, who is also named Mikhail Stavsky, is reported to have been forced into a BMW on April 13th 2009 outside the Russian State Oil and Gas Institute.
Mikhail Stavsky Jr. did not have any EP agents.
Teslyuk Kidnapping (Still Missing to this day)
The Moscow region law enforcement agencies have been searching for several days for the 16-year-old daughter of one of the top managers of the Lukoil oil company.
The 16-year-old Victoria Teslyuk disappeared on Saturday, March 26, and her whereabouts is still unknown.
The father of the missing girl – Robert Teslyuk, 49, – is the CEO of Lukoil Overseas, Kazakhstan, based in Egypt.
Victoria Teslyuk did not have any EP agents.
NEW DELHI: The three-year-old son of Naresh Gupta, CEO of Adobe India, was kidnapped from outside his NOIDA house on Monday morning.
Was kidnapped in broad daylight and had no EP agents.
Maria Boegerl, the kidnapped wife of Thomas Boegerl, CEO of the bank Kreissparkasse Heidenheim, was found dead in woodlands near her family home in southern Germany, police said at a televised press conference.
There are many more kidnappings that have happened and not been made public, the above cases are just a few that were selected and if research is carried out many more will show up.
What must be remembered is that if a CEO or his children are hard targets, it may fall back on the Agent or his own family, even PA’s have been kidnapped.
India CEO’s PA kidnapped:
In the present day and age, all individuals with money and power need protection for themselves and their families and they need to be told and shown what can happen to them, many of them are very naïve or stubborn, until they get hit.
“Everyone has a plan until they get hit”
agree 100% with you Yoni…
STAN L. NOLLEY
this article was very informative,because this is a professional that require’s looking at things from a real world perspective,because todays crimes and criminals are is of high numbers. stan nolley intra-scope protection and security servs. 06/26/2011
Great article Yoni!
Now, that’s the twenty-four million dollar factor, Scott Wojo. “To get the principals to read it and think that way. Two different worlds indeed.”
Excellent article here! Now, if we can only get the principals to read this.
This well-researched article was a great read!
I’ve had only one client who saw eye to eye with me and appreciated my efforts. To most, I think I’ve just been an expensive and more or less “necessary evil”.
But it’s OK: I don’t think that we should be “Debbie Downers”, always warning our protectees of the risks they face. We could sound a little self-serving that way, and they could see us as needlessly paranoid.
After all, the amount of optimism and egocentrism needed to become highly successful can verge on insanity. So it’s hard to imagine risk-taking captains of industry and artists listening to our predictions of doom unless they’ve just “been hit”.
Concretely, I know I try to run efficiently in the background, like a computer’s firewall, without impeding my clients in their daily activities. We’re there to make it possible for them to operate in spite of the risks, not to educate them or warn them all day long.
You don’t want to do your job so quietly that you become invisible and disposable, though, so it’s a tricky line to walk.
I was otherwise expecting the University of St Thomas study to be a lot of fluff about what we already know (that a liberal is a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet), but I found it worth reading. This passage: “imagination of an event increases the perceived likelihood of its occurrence” is what the whole discussion hinges on, I feel. We (like athletes) rehearse events to hone our response to them, while our clients refuse to even imagine them for fear of causing them to happen. It’s superstition on their part, but of the kind you find in highly successful men, as I said. Getting to, and staying at, the top means practicing an intense brand of positive thinking.
Smart powerful men are aware of this and usually keep someone near to keep them grounded, however. It’s up to us to earn their trust and make sure they pay attention when we do sound an alarm.
Thank you very much for your comments.
Glad you all enjoyed the article, I enjoyed writing it.
Good article and all to familiar. I work for a principle that believes if it hasn’t happened yet, it will not. I continue to provide due dilligence in providing security briefs and intel for any trips that I am not participating in as well as updates of any security related concerns around reputation or other.
As professionals in this line of work, our most important asset is providing our client relevant information that will assist them in thier business needs as well as providing a seamless presence for security.
Yoni: Excellent article, right on the money, and a great learning experience. Thank you.
MacAnthony Osuagwu [CPO]
I think as EP Agents we owe it to our principals to uphold diligence and professionalism at all times! And as months, (or even years) go by working for the same principal, we must keep reminding them of why we were hired in the first place, and that is to PROTECT them. If they have lost sight of that for even the slightest reason, it could be the loss of your job or worse, their life.
Great article. Should be required reading for everyone that employs or is thinking about employing security guys or gals.
Yoni, I thought the ending was a little abrupt. But overall very solid article. I look forward, to see more articles from you in the future.