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Four Ways to Prevent an Assassination

Prevent an Assassination

When a politician stepped out of a Kiev television studio last fall, a bomb detonated – wounding him and killing his bodyguard. Ed Hinman discusses four ways a protector could have prevented this attack.

When a Ukrainian politician stepped out of a television studio in Kiev last fall, a bomb detonated and wounded him while killing his bodyguard. By studying past assassination attempts, we can better illuminate concepts and techniques that help keep our protectees safe. After reading the above article, here are four protection concepts that could have prevented, or at least reduced the lethality, of this attack.

  1. Red Zones. The immediate area where surveillance/assassination teams are likely located (red zones) when observing their target.
    • Lesson: Trained protectors conduct routine Surveillance Detection, particularly in the time preceding a protectee’s movement. By conducting surveillance detection, the protector in Ukraine could have detected suspicious activity and decided on an alternate exit. (Unknown if protector conducted SD.)
  2. Theory of Controlled Spaces. The protectee departed the television studio (a controlled space) for the sidewalk (an uncontrolled space). Because the sidewalk is a more observable space for surveillance teams and assassins, it became a more vulnerable space for the protectee.
    • Lesson: Reduce the distance between the vehicle and the building’s exit point. Less distance walked between the building’s exit and awaiting vehicle = less time the protectee is observable to surveillance teams or vulnerable to assassination.
      • Though Controlled Spaces are by no means impregnable, inside these spaces offers greater cover and concealment than outside them (i.e. a sidewalk.) The John Lennon assassination and Regan/Ford assassination attempts are good historic examples. Per Gavin de Becker’s book, Just 2 Seconds, 64% of assassination attempts occur in/around a car.
  3. Public Arrival, Private Departure. Private arrivals are not always an option for protectees making a scheduled public appearance. Private departures, however, should always be the preferred option. Due to the cover, concealment, and physical security measures often afforded to a private departure, protectors can better safeguard their protectees. (Unknown if a private departure was possible in the Kiev attack.)
    • Lesson. If possible, always consider multiple exits for scheduled and unscheduled departures. To gain access to multiple entry and exit points, conduct a thorough Advance and coordinate with onsite security to gain full access to the building and property.
  4. ACE(Access – Concealment — Escape). As described in Just 2 Seconds, the assassin(s) in Kiev held the ACE. Through the assassin(s)’ own concealment, the protector and protectee were unaware of any suspicious behavior that often precedes an attack. Moreover, following the attack the assassin(s) escaped.
    • Lesson: As protectors, we can hold our own ACE — except our “C” is Cover and “E” is Evacuation. And by incorporating Surveillance Detection, Theory of Controlled Spaces, and Public Arrival, Private Departure — we can better hold our ACE and create a “hard target.”
      • History demonstrates how “hard targets” can deter a potential assassin. In Arthur Bremer’s case, he transitioned from conducting surveillance on President Nixon (a hard target) to Gov. George Wallace (a soft target). Bremer then shot and paralyzed Wallace.
      • Note: Many assassins, particularly American assassins like John Hinckley, Arthur Bremer, and Mark David Chapman gain access and concealment yet have no plan (or even desire) to escape.
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