Avoiding Assassination: Learn from history!!
As you read the following incident reports, you will see similarities, even though they took place in different parts of the world and over the past 15 years. I regularly monitor numerous credible media sources and keep a database of incidents that take place in areas where I have interests. By monitoring these incidents, I can build a profile of how the criminals and terrorists in those areas operate.
As you look through the following incidents, think about what the victim could have done to avoid it and, if possible, counter it. You will see the criminals and terrorists do not give their victims much opportunity to defend themselves. Unlike the movies the criminals and terrorists do not want to get into a shoot out, they want to kill or kidnap their victims as quickly and easily as possible. Many people are usually shocked when they find out that criminals and terrorists don’t play fair!
NOVEMBER 1996, RUSSIA
Paul Tatum was an American businessman involved in a dispute over the ownership of the Slavyanskaya hotel in Moscow. In the early evening on the day of his assassination Tatum received a phone call to attend an “emergency meeting” in the Moscow subway. He left for the meeting with two bodyguards, as they approached the nearby subway station they were followed by two unidentified men who had been waiting close by in a parked car. As Tatum went down the steps into the subway station a gunman armed with an assault rifle exited another parked car and ran to the top of the stairs. The first five bullets of the twenty fired hit Tatum in the back of the neck. His bodyguards did not draw their weapons and no witnesses ever came forward, even though the area was busy.
- Early evening and busy times and places are favored by criminal as it is easier for them to blend in and escape. Also police reaction time at 5pm in most cities will be slower them 3am due to traffic congestion and the fact they will be busy attending to other tasks.
- Always be wary of meetings as they can be set ups for kidnappings or assaults, the bad guys will know where you’ll be at a specific time.
- Always be suspicious of people waiting in parked cars or vans, people don’t wait in parked cars for no reason. There is an old saying that there are only two reasons why two people will sit in a parked car, they are either doing surveillance or having sex.
- The chances are his bodyguards did not have time to react to the shooting but I would also not be surprised if they received a phone call, did they want to make some cash or get shot! It’s common for security personnel to be targeted by the criminals to assist in the kidnappings or assaults or just look the other way.
OCTOBER 2002, RUSSIA
The mayor of Taganrog was shot dead outside his home. The mayor had just got out of his car, outside of his home when an assassin approached and shot him twice in the back. The mayor’s driver was also wounded in the incident.
- The victim was killed outside of his home as he left his car. The shooter must have been waiting near the victims home for the car to turn up.
- The victim was shot in the back. Criminals want to get way with their crimes, forget the Hollywood shootouts, we are talking murder.
JUNE 2010, MEXICO
Enrique Barrios Rodriguez, the Secretary of Roadways and Reynaldo Ramos Alvarado the Director of Transit, were kidnapped from their homes in Monterrey by gangs of armed men. Reports state, Barrios and Ramos were kidnapped in the early morning after the gunmen broke into their homes. Their family members who were in the houses were left unharmed.
- Again the victims were taken from their homes by multiple armed attackers. When planning the security for a residence you need to consider not only how to keep people out but also long you would need to hold out before help arrives.
APRIL 2003, RUSSIA
State Duma deputy, Sergei Yushenkov, was killed in Moscow, apparently in a contract killing. He had just left his chauffeur-driven car and was walking towards his apartment block in the early evening. He was shot in the back 4 times by an assassin armed with a silenced Makarov pistol.
- This is virtually the same as we saw in a previous incident in this chapter. We have the home as the location, the car turns up and the victim killed with shots to the back.
JANUARY 2005, IRAQ
Gunmen killed six people during the abduction of a Turkish businessman, Abdulkadir Tanrikulu, outside the Baghdad hotel, where he was staying. About 10 gunmen opened fire on a minibus which, contained personnel who had come to pick up Mr. Tanrikulu.
- The location for the kidnapping was at the targets hotel, his place of residence.
- How did the kidnappers know when the target was leaving the hotel and he was worth kidnapping, did they have contacts working within the hotel?
- I expect the six people killed in minibus were security personnel who had come to escort Mr. Tanrikulu, they should have been armed etc. This is a good example of how a bunch of guys with guns are a waste of time; they might look intimidating but…
AUGUST 1997, RUSSIA
Vice Governor or St. Petersburg, Mikhail Manevich, was killed by a sniper as his car turned slowly around a corner in central St. Petersburg. The sniper was in a position several stories above street level and fired eight rounds from an AK-47 through the car’s roof and front window, five bullets struck Mr. Manevich in the neck and chest. Mr Manevich had received threats from Mafia groups but still traveled regular routes, at normal speeds, in an unarmored Volvo and without security escorts.
- The criminals had done their homework and identified where along Manevich’s route he would have to make a stop or take a slow turn.
- The shooter was several stories above street level; Manevich would never have seen him and the shooter only needed to identify his car. Think about how often you look up above street level, most people don’t and look behind them even less.
- The Volvo S-70 was unarmored but even a lot of armored cars have unarmored roofs, if you or are going to hire an armored car check and made sure the roof is protected.
APRIL 2006, VENEZUELA
Three boys Jason, Kevin and John Faddoul – aged 12, 13 and 17 were found dead with their driver just over a month after being kidnapped. They were kidnapped while been driven to school in Caracas by a gang dressed in police uniforms. The family received a ransom demand for $4.5 million but was unable to pay. A few weeks before this kidnapping an Italian businessman was kidnapped as he neared is home by men dressed as police, he also turned up dead.
- The boys and their driver were kidnapped while I expect they were driving a regular route, basic procedures always avoid routine.
- The businessman was kidnapped near his residence, which is one of the main locations for assassinations and kidnappings.
- Both kidnappings were carried out by groups of men dressed as police. This is common and in many cases the police are working with the criminals. This is a difficult issue; if you run from the police you can get shot or arrested and if they turn out to be kidnappers your kidnapped.
- Even if a ransom is paid there is no guarantee that the victims will be released alive.
JUNE 2005, MEXICO
The police chief of Nuevo Laredo, Alejandro Dominguez, was assassinated by gunmen just after recently taking the job. The assassins were in three vehicles and opened fire as Mr. Dominguez was getting in his car on a Wednesday evening. They cut him off so he could not escape and initially opened fire from inside their vehicles, then got out and shot him at close quarters. At least 30 rounds were fired by the assassins, who then slowly drove away with their lights turned off.
- The location of the assassination was the place of business of Dominguez and he was shot as he got into his car in the evening. The assassins would have located his car and just waited for him to return.
- There were multiple assassins who blocked in his car so he could not escape, he did not stand a chance. Best to try to avoid such situations!
FEBRUARY 2002, RUSSIA
Vladimir Kanevsky, a top Russian advertising executive, was killed in what is believed to be business-related shooting in Moscow. He was shot in his car, which was stopped at traffic lights, when a gunman managed to open his car door and kill him before his four bodyguards, traveling in a car behind Mr. Kanevsky’s vehicle, could react.
- Kanevsky was shot in his car at traffic lights. The assassin could have been staking out that traffic light for a month waiting for the onetime Kanevsky’s car would stop. I also suspect this was a route that was regularly used by Kanevsky.
- Having bodyguards does not guarantee protection, bodyguards need to be pro-active, if they just wait to react to problems the chances are that their clients, themselves or both will end up dead.
AUGUST, 2005, MEXICO
Leopoldo Ramos, who headed the Public Safety Commission of Nuevo Laredo, was ambushed and killed in broad daylight near the offices where he worked. Ramos was ambushed by at least three men who sprayed his car with automatic weapons fire and then escaped in another vehicle. Ramos died instantly along with his bodyguard.
- The incident took place near Ramos’s place of business, which he went to every workday. If you cannot avoid routine in your daily life you need to identify the danger areas and be extra vigilant. The gunmen must have been staking out the route waiting for the car to approach.
- There were three assassins armed with automatic weapons, that’s 90 rounds fired within a few seconds, at tactical street distances they could not have missed.
- The bodyguard who I expect was also the driver did not have time to react, you do not want to be reactive! Bodyguards are bodyguards and drivers are driver’s one person cannot do both jobs at once.
JANUARY 2000, RUSSIA
Ilya Vaisman, the finance director of Baltika Breweries, was shot and killed in the evening, through the kitchen window of his apartment in central St Petersburg.
- Here we have another shooting taking place at the targets residence and at the assassins favored time of day.
- The assassin shot Vaisman through his kitchen window, think about how many times you have the lights on in your residence with the blinds open, which means people can look in at you but you are limited to what you can see outside.
As you have seen, we have highlighted some similarities in these incidents. You should noticed that the favored places for attacks to happen were at the victims’ homes, cars or businesses. Think about it: If the criminals or terrorists locate their target’s home or car, they just have stake it out and wait for the target to return. You should have also notice that many of the incidents were obviously well planned and involved multiple shooters armed with automatic weapons. Always be prepared to deal with the maximum threat that you are most likely to encounter and expect the criminals and terrorists to be well trained and organized.
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