Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.
The war between Russia and Ukraine reminded the whole world how large the circle of consequences and influence is and goes beyond the borders of the countries and regions involved in the war. Two countries are in a state of direct fighting that affects the routine of life in large parts of the world and forces heads of states such as the United States, China, and Europe to intervene by choosing sides and making decisions, including taking unusual actions such as imposing sanctions, transferring weapons and receiving refugees.
War puts many protected leaders at the forefront and in a new situation that can make them a target for assassination by elements who disagree with the decisions they have made and in the case of Russia and Ukraine, the president of the attacked country suddenly becomes a target for assassination by the attacking state. The local and global political change directly affects all the close protection units that secure the heads of state involved in the war. There is no doubt that the conduct of the war affects the agenda of a head of state, president, or prime minister, who is required to be focused on the conduct of the war, the strategy he or she chooses, and the consequences, so it is likely that most of the activities he or she would have done regularly are replaced with a long stay at a permanent facility and/or at a facility that is a hiding place.
War produces new potential assassins, individuals or an organization or state, who will act to assassinate a secure head of state out of a motive that stems from and is related to war. In terms of possible threats against a secure head of state, war expands the circle of potential assassins because it adds officials who work in the professional staff of the secured head of state and stay within his or her immediate vicinity for a long time and are even defined in terms of security as preferred (those who should not be screened).
Can a period of war cause such a functionary to decide to try and assassinate the secure head of state while taking advantage of being preferred? Does this complex question also apply to a close protection specialist working in a close protection unit and belonging to the security team of the secured head of state?
In 2016, a Turkish policeman from the close protection unit of the local police in Ankara set out on a mission to secure the Russian ambassador to Turkey and following Russia’s policy in Syria decided to assassinate the ambassador during the inauguration of an art gallery.
The assassination was recorded on cameras:
There have been times in history when assassination attempts by a functionary working in his or her immediate area were considered common – during World War II it was reported that Adolf Hitler survived dozens of assassination attempts some of which were almost successful, yet the crossing of lines by a close protection specialist in 2016 is defined as a constitutive event in the world of close protection and there is no doubt that close protection units to re-examine their work assumptions related to the internal threat and the threat from home and especially in sensitive periods like wartime.
And now history repeats itself and in the Russian-Ukrainian war, the latter report that since the beginning of the war, President Zelensky has fully survived no less than 12 assassination attempts that were likely carried out in various ways by elements related to Russia. I hope that in the not too distant future details will be revealed about the attempts to assassinate Zelensky and the world media reports on a phenomenon that people who are close to the Russian president, such as ministers and oligarchs, are resigning and daring to speak out against the president’s decisions before the war.
These two cases of Hitler in World War II and of Zelensky in the war with Russia in 2022, reinforce the assumption that during the war the threat to heads of the state increases significantly and requires close protection units to take unique actions and changes to successfully provide a professional and effective response against it.
Based on media reports, the realization of the threat against a secure head of state, such as Ukrainian President Zelensky, is carried out by special units and/or skilled mercenaries sent and hired by the Russian attacking state that aims to capture and even harm the president thus challenging the Ukrainian close protection unit that needs to know how to respond and deal with special forces and skilled fighters.
Today, every close protection unit must be ready for war and must therefore perform the following actions:
1. Add to the working assumptions that in sensitive periods, such as a time of war, a functionary from the immediate vicinity of the secure head of state can become a potential assassin.
2. Be involved with the relevant governmental agencies in all matters of preparation and maintenance of emergency facilities – adapting the facilities to the security of the head of state during his or her stay in the facility in terms of infrastructure, technological means, creating security rings, security posts, etc.
3. Immediate reduction of the staff working and staying in the immediate vicinity of the secure head of state and operating compartmentalization in everything related to the schedules, movements, and location of the head of state.
4. Adjust and change the circle of persons who are screened with an emphasis on canceling the list of preferred persons and checking all the officials who must be in the vicinity of the secure head of state.
5. Make the close protection specialists infantry in every way, in appearance and the ability to carry and use long firearms – a unit like the Israeli close protection unit has an advantage in this matter because the professional training it provides to security guards includes combat capabilities in military characteristics.
6. Have the ability to secure the head of state in wartime activities, which also include constant movement and urgent and immediate location changes, and a professional deception plan.
7. Technological means including encrypted portable communications devices that are appropriate for arduous work and can be operated without any other factors.
8. Know how to cooperate with military units that with their help, an external combative security circle can be formed.
Remember that security must be maintained even in wartime conditions!