“Attempted assassination” of the Venezuelan president during an open event

Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.

The president of Venezuela and his aides claim that an assassination attempt was made against him with the help of 7 drones during his participation in an open event. Other officials in the country claim that the explosion heard during the president’s speech were caused by a gas cylinder in an apartment located in a building near the scene.

As usual, I searched for long hours on the internet for videos and/or pictures that could testify to what happened in the event in question and I found no hint that it was a drone attack except for the fact that as soon as I heard the noise the president and those around him looked up. The truth is that I was a little disappointed with the result because I am of the opinion that it is not far off today that an adversary will choose to try to assassinate a principal with the help of a drone.

Although no sign of drones was seen at the event, one can still learn from it about the reaction of the people to the explosion during the event, the reaction of the security system of the President of Venezuela, and the reaction of the crowd that included mainly soldiers.

Event documentation:

Personal response:

The event proves once again how much the security system can understand from the behavior of people that something is happening where the VIP is at. The reaction of the president, his wife, and the officers around him can indicate some kind of explosion that took place upwards because everyone instinctively looked at the sky and did not seem to be looking for where the noise came from (their response is somewhat inconsistent with the fact that there are no signs of drones in the sector). The behavior of the principal and all the other people on stage gives the security system a sign that something is happening and therefore even if they still do not understand what it is, they have a duty to approach the principal and protect him or her physically until deciding whether to evacuate him from the incident. There is a concept in security, which I do not know if it still exists, of an unknown incident which means that an emergency occurs that is not in the sector close to the object of security but in the more distant circles and can affect its security and therefore requires reference by the security system. The sharp-eyed will be able to spot an officer standing to the right of the president in the second row and a few seconds after hearing the noise fall to the floor (apparently looking up caused him to lose his balance).

Security actions:

The Venezuelan president’s guards’ response came relatively quickly from the moment he heard the noise, which in the first stage included a range reduction towards the president using open protective measures, and in the second stage, the president was evacuated from the stage and apparently from the incident. The president’s security team correctly analyzed the incident and acted on a decision that suited him. The response of the security team is appropriate for a situation where you understand that some unusual event is taking place but still do not understand exactly what it is so since an explosion sounds you decide not to take a risk and run the shielding reaction drill on the principal and further removal from the sector. It can be seen that the crew left a close protection specialist in a static position who continues to look to the front and does not participate in the shielding operation (the close protection specialist on the left).

The evacuation of the president after the rescue from the stage actually seems calm:

Audience response:

I think the audience response indicates that this is not an attack of drones and bombs from the sky because it seems that while the personalities on stage are responding to the noise, the soldiers continue to stand in their place. I believe that if the soldiers understood that an explosion was taking place above them, they would react with the instinct of a faster escape. The soldiers’ escape from the plaza illustrates what an audience that decides to flee from an event in one moment and together looks like, and especially emphasizes the professional difficulty in controlling it in these moments. The crowd’s escape characteristics underscore the importance of routinely planning and routing crowd routes at mass events.

Drones or gas cylinder explosion in the apartment:

As mentioned, I watched several videos documenting the incident and posted it on YouTube and saw in none of them a trace of the drones or an explosion that occurred over the scene of the incident. It seems logical to me that in the event of an explosion of an explosive attached to a drone, we should have seen in the videos from the incident parts of the drone falling from the sky into the plaza. At no point are parts detected falling from above so I doubt it was an attack of 7 drones with bombs as the president and his aides were quick to announce despite the reaction of the president and those around him on stage looking at the sky.

Other sources, other than the president, claim that it was an explosion of a gas cylinder that took place in an apartment in a building located near the scene and even posted photos of the apartment and the security forces who came to it.

The day after the incident, TV networks started showing a video that apparently came from the Venezuelan authorities in which they claim to see the drone that exploded over the incident.

Video allegedly showing the drone:

Despite showing the video, it is difficult to decide whether this is an authentic photo of the drone from the event in question.

In conclusion, I recommend to all those involved in security in general and close protection, in particular, to continue to seriously examine the threat of drones and the ability of the adversary to use it. ISIS and others have already demonstrated the ability to use a drone to carry out an attack, so it is clear that the day is not far off when other adversaries will emulate them for attempts to harm facilities and even personalities.

Remember that security must be maintained in readiness for any possible and logical situation.

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