Managing change is nothing new to professionals in the security industry. The stakes for any corporation with a national or international footprint have escalated as terrorist groups with political, fanatical, and sinister goals wreak havoc on nations and innocent citizens. Doing business in these environments requires security’s best efforts to understand the changing dynamics, prepare for contingencies, and advise the C-suite on potential consequences of terrorist acts.

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The U.S. Department of State issued a comprehensive report on terrorism activities in countries around the world. 

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Released in April 2014, the report provides strategic assessments of terrorism in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. It also lists state sponsors of terrorism, designated foreign terrorist organizations, and terrorist safe havens. Perhaps of greatest in interest to security professionals, the report also discusses programs and initiatives designed to counter terrorist safe havens.  

Business Not As Usual

Developing a Commercial Security Business in an Unstable Environment,” a white paper from the ASIS Crime and Loss Prevention Council, looks at terrorism through a different lens: establishing a viable security business in parts of the world that face persistent or occasional terrorist disruptions. 

Security business leaders must understand how their operation will fit into the local work environment. Understanding how the business will be perceived and how employees will be able access and use technology, especially in an emergency, are key factors to consider.

Where in the World

Perhaps the most important role of any corporate security professional is ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. Those stakes escalate when employees travel to international “hot spots.” Regions of the world controlled by terrorist groups and lawlessness often lack the basic health and security resources to assist employees who must live and work in unstable environments.

Members-only Resources

The ISIS Threat seminar recording

How did ISIS grow from an organization no one had heard of to a worldwide threat? Two speakers, who served in Iraq with the U. S. military, answered this question during The ISIS Threat session at the 60th Annual ASIS Seminar and Exhibits in Atlanta.

William Scott, CPP, and Greg Schneider, CPP, members of the ASIS Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime Council, shared their views on how ISIS developed, how the group is organized, and how the leaders are attaining their goals. 

When the U.S. began its 2003 offense campaign in Iraq, Scott said, the best intelligence at the time warned that the military could expect to encounter seven Iraqi Army divisions. In fact, they engaged one division. “What happened to the others,” he asked?  Admittedly some simply abandoned their posts, he said, but a contingent just disappeared, thinking, “We’re going to bide our time, and when we get stronger, that’s when you’ll see us again.”

The speakers profiled ISIS leaders, their brutal tactics, and their ruthless ability to seize major cities and hold on to them as they acquired financial resources through oil. While they have been able to recruit ISIS fighters from Western nations, many are “lone wolves” just wanting to join a winning side. “Fortunately, from a security point of view,” said Scott, “lone wolves make tradecraft errors and tactical mistakes, which often lead to the destruction of their activities.”

Despite the wealth of information provided in the session, the speakers acknowledged that ISIS remains an enigma.” It’s fluid, even at the top,” said Schneider. “They’re making it up as they go along.”

Global Forecast

The key issues that will determine the future trajectory of American power are outlined in the 2015 Global Forecast: Crisis and Opportunity, a publication from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This analysis identifies possible crises and opportunities that could surface in the next year, discusses how to handle each possibility, and reports on the long-term effects the identified scenarios may have on the future of the United States and its international counterparts.

IRC Guide

A comprehensive review of the many international, national, and local resources on terrorism has been compiled by the ASIS Information Resources Center (IRC). The PDF provides access to reports, essays, news, and opinions from thought leaders involved in creating policies and practices on terrorism and counterterrorism. 

View all published Security Spotlights           Next month’s feature topic: Cyber Security.