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Adam Curtis, AFIMAC Senior Director Corporate Investigations, quoted in Canadian Security article ‘Sharper Focus’

July 11th, 2016 Comments off

AFIMAC Global CEO Peter Martin quoted in CNN article ‘Rio Olympics: Brazil vows to be ready in case terror strikes’

July 8th, 2016 Comments off

CNN

Rio de Janeiro has long had a reputation for dangerous favelas, with muggings and kidnappings not uncommon. But authorities are stepping up measures to tackle a different kind of security threat altogether when the Rio Olympic Games begin August 5.

Wary that the international sporting event is a potential prime target for terrorists, Brazilian forces have been working with specialist French SWAT teams to simulate attack scenarios.

In one drill, Brazil special forces and a police dog chase down an armed gunman to thwart a possible attack on Rio’s subway system. The dramatic display is meant to reassure journalists that a country with limited experience in handling terrorism is ready for the unthinkable.

“There is not a specific threat,” said Lt. Gen. Luiz Linhares with the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. “You have to screen for a great (spectrum) of threat.”

The Brazilian government said it is not taking any chances — especially after the recent terror attacks around the world, including in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Security is visible at a checkpoint Tuesday at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.

Linhares said authorities will be screening the ticket names of the hundreds of thousands coming for the Rio Olympics, South America’s first games.

Brazil’s intelligence agency reported in April that the number of those influenced by ISIS ideology had increased in recent months but insisted there was no threat to the Olympics.

Brazil mostly lacks the presence of extremist networks that terrorists rely upon, but at least one ISIS fighter tweeted after the November 2015 Paris attacks that Brazil would be next. Several ISIS members have launched a Telegram channel in Portuguese, the official language of Brazil.

The UK government’s latest travel warning advises citizens going to Brazil that “there is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.”

There have been no major terror attacks in Brazil in recent years, but Peter Martin, CEO of security firm AFIMAC Global, said the country does have serious organized crime issues and therefore could leverage high-level training to combat that problem within the Brazilian special forces.

“When you’re going after gangs like that, there are a lot of similarities to terrorists with intercepted communications, informants trying to penetrate the organization, trying to understand what the next target is,” Martin said.

“It is different, but a lot of the methodologies apply. Brazil has been doing that for a long time.”

Problems with police

Police and firefighters protest pay delays this week at Rio de Janeiro’s main airport.

Some 22,000 troops will be stationed at the games, officials said, but the capability of the police force has been the focus of recent scrutiny.

For days, members of Rio’s law enforcement have been protesting over late wages. The state of Rio de Janeiro requested an emergency federal bailout after it said it was unable to fund essential public services.

Angry police officers have been camping out at the international arrivals hall of Rio de Janeiro’s main airport holding up banners that say, “Welcome to hell,” and warning visitors they will not be safe in the country.

A 2.9 billion-real bailout (roughly $850 million) was made available last week after acting Gov. Francisco Dornelles said the games could be a “big failure” without the funds. It’s believed that the back pay will be distributed this week.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told CNN this week the state was doing a “terrible” job in regard to security in the lead-up to the games.

“It’s completely failing at its work of policing and taking care of people,” Paes said.

But Brazilian officials later put on a united front to assure the world that Rio was up to the task of hosting sport’s greatest showpiece.

Delays in construction

Also complicating security efforts is the unfinished construction of several Olympics sites and infrastructure.

Corruption probe into Olympics construction projects

“The construction is so far behind. (There are) the roads that were meant to have been built by now, and we’re not sure if they’re going to be open in time,” Martin said.

A tremendous amount of planning goes into mapping out the fastest routes to secure medical attention or safe zones. Parking for events may end up being farther away, he said, which means exposing people to being outside the security perimeter for longer periods of time.

“Because of the lack of development, we’re still not being told where all of those are going to be right now. Usually by now, we’d have that planned and done.”

What to do if you’re going to Rio

Martin said anyone traveling to Rio for the Olympics should know how to reach emergency services and monitor the situation on an ongoing basis.

“People need to understand that these situations are fluid, and it’s not enough to make an assessment a month out and say, ‘I’m good to go.’ You want to monitor the situation quite frequently,” he said.

“Understand that the police response is going to be limited potentially if they go on strike. Know your local hospitals, know how to dial (numbers). Take more personal responsibility t

AFIMAC Global VP Ruben Mena discussing airport security on NBC Impact

July 6th, 2016 Comments off

AFIMAC Global Vice President Ruben Mena discussing airport security in the wake of the Istanbul attacks on NBC WTVJ Channel 6 on “Impact with Jackie Nespral” . Originally aired Sunday, July 3, 2016.

AFIMAC CEO Peter Martin quoted in USA Today article “Experts: U.S. airports need more armed officers outside terminals”

July 5th, 2016 Comments off

Capture

In the aftermath of the deadly bombing Tuesday at Istanbul’s international airport, security experts urged airports to assign more armed officers at terminal doors to prevent attackers from reaching crowds of travelers farther inside.

The three suicide bombers killed 42 people, but the death toll was likely lower after an encounter with guards at the doorway forced them to split up and set off the explosives earlier than planned.

“The explosive effect of that same bomb going off (farther inside the airport) is exponential, the collateral damage and casualties is exponential,” said Anthony Roman, president of Roman & Associates, which consults on security and risk management. “It would have been hundreds dead.”

All three attackers arrived together at the lower-level arrivals hall; one went inside, opened fire and then detonated his explosives, an Interior Ministry official and another official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

The second attacker went upstairs to departures and blew himself up. The third man waited outside during the whole episode and detonated his explosives last as people flooded out of the airport, the officials said.

One of the attackers drew the attention of guards posted outside the terminal because he wore a jacket in 80-degree summer heat, Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported. The guards followed the suspect as he met up with two other men. When the men realized they had police attention, they hurried to hit their targets.

“When the terrorists couldn’t pass the regular security system, when they couldn’t pass the scanners, police and security controls, they returned and took out their weapons out of their suitcases and opened fire at random at the security check,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildririm said Wednesday.

The airport’s new security approach of placing armed guards at the doors came after bombings at Brussels airport and a nearby subway station killed 32 people in March. Brussels airport shuttered for weeks after suicide attackers detonated bombs at a checkin area, causing extensive damage. The explosions in Istanbul caused far less damage, and the airport reopened Wednesday.

The Brussels attacks spurred calls for the Transportation Security Administration to move security checkpoints to doorways, but experts pointed out such a move would only push crowds of travelers onto sidewalks or parking lots where they would remain targets.

A better goal, security officials said, is to post armed officers such as local police or National Guard members at all terminal doors to gauge the behavior of suspicious travelers before they enter the building. Checkpoints inside would still screen passengers and bags for weapons and explosives.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey posted more armed police and National Guard members Wednesday at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports.

Any checkpoints should be behind bollards — short vertical posts that can halt a vehicle — to reduce the threat of car bombs, according to Jeff Price, an aviation-security professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

“Putting screening checkpoints too close to the entrances creates an additional vulnerability as you’re exposing those waiting in line to a much more powerful vehicle bomb, versus a less powerful backpack or suicide bomber farther inside the terminal,” he said.

Peter Martin, CEO of AFIMAC Global, a consultancy that assesses threats at airports and gauges risks in high-risk environments such as Istanbul, said the key is to push security out as far as possible to blunt the impact on crowds.

“There’s not anything really designed to keep those areas from being overrun,” Martin said. “This is a prime example of people targeting where the people are.”

Martin said the hope is for security to appear the strongest so that terrorists will move on to a different target. “You don’t want your target to be the softest perceived target,” he said.

Another tactic, adopted by Los Angeles airport, is posting armed officers along airport roads to observe vehicles that appear weighed down with explosives or are carrying people who look uncomfortable or suspicious.

“You need to have armed personnel outside the terminal, as well as inside the terminal, so that if a threat is engaged, it’s engaged effectively,” Roma.

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