Controlling access was one of the key lessons learned in the recent Paris terrorist attacks, according to a former CIA agent and counter-terrorism expert.
“The terrorist wasn’t able to get into the French soccer stadium, but there was no security at the concert hall,” said former CIA agent Wesley Odom, now with the Ackerman Group, an international security firm. “We’re really focusing on that. It was a great lesson to be learned.”
Odom was speaking about international travel security and active shooter response to employees of Baird in Cherry Creek on Dec. 10, just days after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. CCIG teamed up with Chubb to present the timely information to staff of the wealth management firm.
Professional U.S. sports leagues like the NFL and NHL met with Homeland Security immediately after the Paris attacks to increase security and anti-terrorism efforts, according to Security magazine.
“This is not going to end anytime soon,” Odom said. “This is not under control. It’s not just ISIS, but really all Islamic jihadists.”
While most of the focus in the last two to three years has been on ISIS, counter-terrorism experts like Odom have been paying close attention to Yemen.
Yemen, on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, has emerged as an Al Qaeda stronghold and ground zero for some of the most high-profile plans to attack the United States, according to a report from PBS.org.
“If we have another 9-11, it’s coming from Yemen,” Odom said. “It’s home to the most viscous of Al Qaeda. They’re very sophisticated.”
He presented a slide on current high-risk areas for Americans to travel globally, which included nearly everywhere but Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Generally, Odom said to avoid places that attract large crowds when traveling in areas at high risk for terrorism, and to stay at lesser known hotels.
Odom also talked about office security and best responses in active shooter situations. “In Colorado, you’ve had so many mass shootings,” he said. “Every office should have plans and practice in dealing with active shooter situations.”
One of the best pieces of advice he said he could give was to follow the mantra, “Run, Hide, Fight.”
The best thing to do in an active shooter situation is to run away from the danger, he said. If that’s not possible, you should hide. As a last resort, employees should improvise and fight back against the shooter.
All buildings should have a “safe haven” spot, he said, where employees can lock themselves in to avoid getting shot.
The FBI has created the video, Run, Hide, Fight — found here — that details the best responses in an active shooter situation.
Odom also offered general international safety tips, such as protecting your passport, checking all locks on hotel room doors, hiring hotel cars instead of using taxis and using concealment belts to protect your money and credit cards.
“Everyone has a certain degree of risk,” he said. “Security is your own personal responsibility.”