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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.

En NTN24, Arturo Garffer, un experto en asuntos internacionales y terrorismo discute Turquía

June 30th, 2016 Comments off


 

La cifra de fallecidos sigue aumentando, se reporta hasta el momento que 41 personas han muerto en un atentado contra el aeropuerto Atatürk, el mayor de Estambul, y se habla de por lo menos 147 heridos, informó este martes el primer ministro de Turquía, Binali Yildirim.

Los primeros indicios señalan al grupo yihadista autodenominado Estado Islámico como autor del ataque terrorista, aunque aún se investiga lo sucedido, ha dicho esta madrugada el primer ministro turco, Binali Yildirim.

En NTN24, Arturo Garffer, experto en asuntos internacionales y terrorismo dijo que Turquía debe “muy cuidadoso” al señalar a la organización.

Para Garffer, lo que seguiría a continuación, es que se inicie una “ofensiva” contra ISIS en Siria.

Categories: Articles, Security Tags: ,

UNIVISION 23 Miami: AFIMAC Art Garffer, un experto en seguridad analiza la masacre de Orlando

June 13th, 2016 Comments off

UNIVISION 23 MIAMI: Un experto en seguridad analiza la masacre de Orlando y la califica como crimen de odio y un posible ataque terrorista.

 

FocusPoint International CEO Greg Pearson quoted in Travel Weekly: Bad news is good news for travel insurance vendors

April 25th, 2016 Comments off

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Terrorist attacks, virus outbreaks and other bad news for the travel industry typically translate into good news for sales of travel insurance. So it’s little surprise that a world in which violence, disease and extreme weather appear to be on the rise is producing steady growth for risk-management products within the retail channel.

In 2008, the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) reported via its market survey that Americans had spent just over $1.58 billion on travel insurance the previous year, according to executive director Megan Freedman.

“If we fast forward to 2014, that spend was about $2.2 billion, so a noticeable increase,” Freedman said.

The number of Americans covered by a USTIA member’s plan also increased in that time frame from 28 million to 33.4 million, Freedman said, “so in the number of people covered and the number of dollars they’re spending in the industry, we’re certainly noticing increases.”

The USTIA will conduct its next market survey in 2017, she said, and if the trend continues, sales should be even higher.

Freedman pointed to several factors that are pushing the increase: the economy, the growth in leisure travel in recent years, “and, really, an awareness of the different things that can interrupt your travel — extreme weather, natural disasters, things like that.”

Dean Sivley, president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, also pointed to growth in the leisure market and the strong U.S. dollar. He, too, said there are spikes in inquiries and sales whenever violence or other troubles are heavily publicized anywhere in the world. In particular, he cited the Brussels terrorist attacks and the increasing spread of the Zika virus.

“There always have been events which do remind people that it’s good to get travel insurance, and you do see spikes,” Sivley said. “But interestingly enough, I don’t think that they’re necessarily lasting effects.”

Typically, he said, Berkshire Hathaway sees “somewhere in the 15% to 20% range in terms of percentage of additional bookings that happen during those periods,” increases that tend to last for a few months.

Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance, said bumps in inquiries and sales are largely driven by media coverage.

“It’s the crisis of the moment that drives a lot of interest in travel insurance, and there will be a next crisis,” Durazo said.

Isaac Cymrot, vice president of industry relations with Travel Insured International, agreed: “Anytime there’s something that’s perceived negatively in the world that could impact travel, it’s going to have a positive effect on our business because people are naturally better in tune to, ‘If I want to go, I’m going to be protected.’ ”

To be sure, negative events are not solely responsible for spikes in business. Insurers are already anticipating an increase in U.S. travelers headed to Cuba as travel restrictions to the country are loosened.

“We see a direct correlation between the type of trip people take and the percentage of people who take insurance,” said Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. “So the more exotic or risky the location is, or the more underdeveloped the medical infrastructure is, the higher the percentage of people who take insurance.”

Insurers said they also felt their industry was growing because of a better general awareness of travel insurance among U.S. consumers, not just as a result of spikes caused by global events.

“Travel insurance is available in many more places than it ever was before, so there’s a much higher degree of awareness of the product and the value,” Godlin said. “Because of that — because of the sheer sort of exponential increase in distribution points for the product — more people are seeing it, more people are buying it.”

In addition, Jason Schreier, U.S. CEO of April Travel Protection, attributed an increase in the amount of insurance sold to a “heightened awareness” of insurance. He said education about what insurance can do for travelers is important, especially in the U.S., where travelers traditionally buy travel insurance less than in other markets.

Robert Gallagher, COO of AIG Travel, agreed. Within the U.S. specifically, he said, “education and awareness about the value of travel insurance is a key marketing objective for us.”

Companies that are focused more on travel risk management are seeing increases in business, too. For example, On Call International’s chief security officer, Jim Hutton, said the company is seeing increases of 30% year over year in requests for information about both insurance and risk-management services, particularly in the security, political and natural disaster coverage realms.

FocusPoint International, a security and risk-management firm, targets business travelers, but has seen an increase in leisure travelers recently, CEO Greg Pearson said. This time last year the company had about 10% leisure clients, but that is expected to grow to 30% by the end of 2016, with an end goal of a 40/60 leisure-business mix.

The value of travel insurance is not lost on agents, who often recommend the product to their customers.

Kimberly Wilson Wetty of Valerie Wilson Travel said, “The best advice we give our travelers is to buy insurance and protect their investment.”

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