Monday, October 20, 2014

Tip of the Day: How to Determine Whether You Are Under Surveillance, Part 2

  1. Laurence Foley was assassinated because of his predictable pattern of behavior, even after US Embassy diplomats were warned that the embassy and/or its staff might be targeted. Foley was the executive officer for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). 

    While he was in his driveway preparing to drive to work, Larry Foley was shot several times with a pistol equipped with a silencer. The late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ordered Foley’s assassination.

    There is a term used in the field of the surveillance of others called a "choke-point," which is best defined "as a fixed location where you can always be expected to be at specific times of the day.

    Unfortunately, Larry Foley did not heed the Embassy’s advice to vary routes and times. Consequently, he came under pre-incident surveillance by a Libyan and a Jordanian working for al-Zarqawi. 

    Jordanian authorities subsequently arrested and convicted Foley’s two assassins; on March 11, 2006, both men were later executed.
Definition of Tactical Surveillance

Individuals worthy of being followed to determine their activities are typically conducted from stationary or mobile positions by a single person or teams of several surveillers. 

They may followed on foot, in vehicles or even on public transportation. Targets should not assume that surveillers will be male; women are often used, and even children may be manipulated or rewarded to watch foreigners.

Generally speaking, I advise persons who may be followed to determine what they are up to or how predictable they may be usually fall into a variety of factors:

-- You notice that something that is not normal (e.g., a person dressed in business dress, but idle for hours; a man working on a broken-down car that is never fixed or removed; a utility van with no obvious work being conducted; a person with a camera or a camcorder who is taking photos in the direction of the target);

-- You see someone sitting in the same car near your hotel or residence and he or she appears to not be occupied for lengthy periods of time;

--  You suddenly see a street vendor you have never seen before;

-- Local acquaintances tell you that strangers have been asking questions about you;

-- You notice people who check their watches when you walk by them; and

-- You observe people in areas you frequent who wash the same car repeatedly.

Determining Whether Your Activities Are Being Surveilled

This step is a bit tricky and potentially could place you at risk of being hurt.

You NEVER want to alert a surveiller that you are suspicious of their activities. 

If handled improperly, the actions you take to confirm surveillance could cause the person or team you suspect to shut down operations. 

Conversely, the surveillance could continue but with different surveillers. If the surveillance is a precursor to a kidnapping or criminal event, your obvious suspicions could cause the surveillers to move up their timetable. Here are some steps to consider:

1. If on foot, stop occasionally to look into a store window. Use this pause to determine whether the person you suspect of surveilling you stops or simply walks by. Do this several times to confirm whether the same person always stops or whether other surveillers key in on your movements;

2. If in a vehicle, drive around the block several times to see whether the driver of a suspect vehicle continues to follow you. If so, try to memorize the trailing vehicle’s license plate without being too obvious;

3. Vary your routes and times of departure and arrival to determine whether suspected surveillants remain with you;

4. Do not attempt to outrun or “slip up” a surveillant, as this could make the situation worse;

5. If you believe you are the target of surveillance, NEVER drive to your home; as you alert the surveillant to information they don't have (i.e., where you live);

6. Contact the security representative at your embassy or consulate and tell them  every minute detail that you can recall from memory, including descriptions of surveillants, times and places, locales that you have noticed surveillant activity, etc.;

7. If it is after-hours, ask to speak to the Embassy Duty Officer;

8. If you are working abroad, report the matter verbally and in writing to your employer’s security representative or general manager;

9. Never think you are being silly to report a suspected surveillance. Remember that our instincts tell us what to do well before our brain figures it out. Trust those instincts. The target that remains ignorant of his or her surroundings or succumbs to denial often moves from a bad situation to a worse situation; and

10. Practice proactive counter-surveillance by doing the following:

a. Be predictably unpredictable in high-threat environments;

b.  Be very cautious at “choke-points”; 

c. Vary the routes you take and your departure and arrival times in environments in which you feel the risk of surveillance;

d. Be observant of people around you; pay attention to abnormal or suspicious behavior;

e. When driving, use rear-view and side mirrors periodically to examine what is going on behind you; and

f. Expats and foreigners alike should be vigilant as to vehicles that are behind them as some criminals will surveil an upscale restaurant with the hope of "getting lucky" that an appropriate target could be followed to their home where a home-invasion can be successfully committed; and

f1: Assume that home invaders are armed. It would be an error in judgment to resist a home-invasion as you are almost always out-numbered.

This second segment completes this Tip of the Day.

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