Our Passion is Freedom!

I often think of what is was like when I met an Army Special Forces Soldier (Green Beret) for the first time. I saw a small group of them standing together at a large military ceremony I attended with my older brother. They were different from the other soldiers I observed there. In fact it seemed that all of the other soldiers seemed to give them wide berth in what seemed like reverence for them. I asked my brother who they were and his reply ended up motivating me to become one. My brother said “You don’t want to be one of them. You will always work alone and you will always be cold, tired, and hungry.” I got a chance to speak to one a few hours later at a recruiting display and saw that their crest stated “De Oppresso Liber” which I quickly learned meant “To Free the Oppressed”. I was hooked and became determined to become a Special Forces Soldier. After all, our country and constitution was founded on freedom from oppression.

 

We at Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team are about to embark on a new journey. We are forming a parallel nonprofit to help provide prevention training and recovery services to those who cannot afford them. Our hope is to triple our anti kidnapping efforts for those who truly need them. The statistics show that missionaries, aid workers, and free-lance journalists are often the most at risk for Kidnappings for Ransom, Extortion, and Terrorism. These at-risk groups often lack the funding to pay for assistance and do not know where to go for help. We also plan to take our expertise developed fighting the war on terror, to help law enforcement hammer away at the networks, cartels, gangs, terrorists, and other organizations who kidnap, exploit, and abuse other human beings. Our passion is freedom and we are striving to help. Cold, tired, or hungry doesn’t matter. The sacrifice to help bring people home? That is what makes us tick.

It will never happen to me, until it does.

I love America and the freedoms we enjoy. I am especially fond of the fall season and how everything feels alive once again. The cool fall air, back to school, fairs and carnivals, football, and the turning of the leaves. It is truly easy to become complacent in our utopia. I even find myself falling into this trap when I am home and sometimes put off planning my next trip until right before it happens. The problem with this attitude is that complacency kills or will at least cost us dearly if we are caught unprepared. We recommend some important travel planning tips that may save the day if an emergency happens during a trip overseas.

  1. Have a current last will and testament.
  2. Identify a family crisis committee who will represent you, should something happen to you overseas. Make sure you give your spokesman a power of attorney for such an event.
  3. Research the country or countries to which you are going. Make sure you are familiar with their laws and the geopolitical situation there. Make sure you study location maps so that you understand the layout of the city or cities where you are going.
  4. Make sure your passport and documents are up to date. Make copies of your passport to take with you.
  5. Purchase Travel Insurance. At a minimum, make sure you are covered for health care, medevac, accidental death, and remains repatriation. Should you be traveling to Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Nigeria, Egypt, Burkina Faso or any other location where kidnapping for ransom is popular, you need to purchase a kidnap for ransom (KFR) policy. If you are going somewhere where even a KFR policy will not cover, my recommendation would be to not go.
  6. Take a basic Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival Course.
  7. Take a Wilderness First Aid Course. You may need to stabilize someone longer than the golden hour of care if you are traveling remotely.
  8. Take a self-defense course. Most countries and even some states will not let you take a gun with you. Empty hand skills are at a premium overseas.
  9. Learn map and GPS skills. Navigation skills are critical, especially when your smart phone may not even work where you are going.
  10. Talk to people who have been there recently. Ask them about their experience. Get the good, the bad, and the ugly from them.

Set these things in motion well ahead of your trip so that you can enjoy your travel.

The morale implications of resistance

In December of 2016, UK film-maker Phil Cox and his friend Daoud Hari made their way from Chad into Sudan to make a film about the war-torn Darfur Region. Within just a few days of arriving, they were kidnapped. They spent 70 days in captivity. The entire story is a compelling read and I want to give it to you first hand so here is a LINK to an article written by Mr. Cox, himself. Mr. Cox tells his story well and there is nothing I could say to improve it. However, what I want to focus on today are all the actions he took on his own behalf. He refused to be bested by the experience and he made conscious choices along the way to resist his captors and live.

  1. Mr. Cox began his string of good decisions before he ever left home. He opted to carry a tracker which he could activate if he needed to alert the folks back home that he was in trouble. He activated it as soon as trouble appeared and he smuggled it with him after he had been captured so that it continued to provide updated data as he was moved. This was not only of practical help, it also did wonders for his morale to know for sure that the good guys knew about his situation.
  2. He offered to allow his captors to use his camera but surreptitiously pressed the recording button when he handed it off to them so that he could obtain footage of his captors, his location, and his situation.
  3. He hid the memory card in a place he believed they would never find it so that he could smuggle it out to the free world.
  4. He showed his captors a photo of his 7 year old son and humanized himself to them by asking that they allow him to contact his family and wish them a merry Christmas.
  5. He pressured the guards, who had a vested interest in keeping him alive, by refusing food or drink until they allowed him to call home.
  6. He told the truth every time he was interrogated and his story remained consistent.
  7. He drew strength from his secret acts of defiance in hiding his memory card and using his camera to his advantage.
  8. He made friends with his cell mates.
  9. He told stories to lift everyone else’s spirits.
  10. He exercised in place every day to keep his body strong.
  11. He took care of his hygiene and sanitation needs to the best of his ability.
  12. He covertly encouraged Daoud in the hallway with a simple wink.
  13. He sent a simple message of love to his family through the embassy.
  14. He managed to secretly tell the embassy official that he was being tortured.
  15. He cleaned his cell to the best of his ability.
  16. He decided to maintain a positive outlook.
  17. He took mental trips home as he exercised.
  18. He smiled at the guards to encourage them to be his allies.
  19. He organized nightly entertainment through a translator.
  20. He allowed his spirits to be buoyed by care packages from the embassy and took courage and strength from knowing that they were working on his case.

Phil Cox had amazing instincts. Somehow he knew that morale was critical to survival. He made many decisions on his own behalf that kept him in the fight. Eventually, he was released and he used the photos and video on his memory card to tell his own story.

 

 

10 tips to help you get your head out of your app

We have spent time over the past few weeks researching the last string of active assailant attacks across the globe. The recent incidents in Garland, El Paso, and Dayton are just a few as well as a knife wielding assailant in New Zealand. We continuously ask the question, “How can we help make people aware of situations before they happen?” We also ask, “What will give people the added seconds they need to be on the offense before they need a defense?” Our answer is to tell people to “Get your head out of your Apps.” Our technology centric society has lost situational awareness because our focus is on our devices and not our surroundings. We have lost the ability to identify threats before those threats have the opportunity to exploit our weaknesses. Our fixation on text messages, emails, memes, and social media keeps our brains disengaged and causes us to become oblivious to our surroundings. The answer to stopping many of these crimes is not in creating more legislation. It is simply to insist that we all develop situational awareness. We need to identify threats and escape, evade, or defend ourselves before we become statistics. I would like to offer ten tips to help you develop situational awareness.

  1. Turn the alerts off on your phones or devices when you are away from home. Keep your device tucked away and your focus on your surroundings.
  2. Become a student of human behavior also known as being a people watcher. Learn what right looks like in different settings. We call this learning the baseline. If you know what right looks like, you will be amazed how quickly something wrong jumps out at you.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Meditation helps increase your focus and ability to recognize subtle changes in your environment.
  4. Learn to recognize the feelings that tell you when something is not a good idea. We affectionately call these “Spidey Senses”. Don’t blow those feelings off. Your life may depend on it.
  5. Play the “what if” game regularly while traveling. Create scenarios in your mind while you are out and about to help you prepare for incidents. As yourself what you will do if something happens right here, then let your mind work through the situation.
  6. Force yourself to keep your device put away until you are in location that requires less situational awareness. If you must use your device, put your back against a wall while you check your messages. This allows you to see and to reduce your vulnerability by 180°.
  7. Keep the ear buds or headphones off your head until you are in a location that requires less situational awareness.
  8. Practice recall games that help you remember faces, shoes, hair, and hands. The Kim’s Game works really well.
  9. Begin managing people’s expectations. Get your friends, family, and coworkers used to you not replying to text messages while you are traveling. This will upset some people at first.
  10. Pay attention to sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Learn to use all of your senses when you are out traveling.

     We truly hope that these tips help you and that you develop super hero level of situational awareness. I can tell you one thing for sure. It will never happen if your head is buried in your device.

What Would YOU Like To Know?

For the last two and a half years, we have built and delivered courses to the general public on many different aspects of security. Our focus is on preventing and responding to captivity situations of all kinds, but at client’s requests, we have also delivered training on disaster response/security, school security, active shooter response, house of worship security, emergency medical response, and survival. We actively seek candid feedback and honest critiques of what we teach and how we teach it. We have found that there is a wide spectrum of personalities, interests, and experiences represented in each course. People have very different opinions about what they need to know and how they want it presented. It is not uncommon for us to get both praise from some and criticism from others on the same aspect of one presentation. Thus, we would like to bring this question to you. You are a perfect audience, since you have never attended any of our training. What would you most like to learn about security? What are your security concerns? What do you need to know and how would you like to learn it?

We gave a 4-hour presentation last night on security concerns in the aftermath of a disaster. We spent the first hour discussing the problem set: who, what, when, where, why, and how. We spent the middle two hours discussing human to human interactions and covered topics like putting people at ease, de-escalation, and elicitation. During that time, the students got to practice these techniques on each other. We spent the last hour on the tactical skills which can save your life in a situation with an active aggressor. When we read the feedback forms, we found out that many people were not interested in learning tactics at all, though they enjoyed everything else. I have been puzzling over this all day long and I would like to ask for your help. We want to bring our absolute best to every class. We believe in being people of excellence. We also want to listen to the students’ feedback and teach them the things they want to know.

So, I ask you outright. What do you want know?

10 Critical Tips for Business Travelers

The world runs on business and business regularly requires travel. This can be as exciting as any other kind of travel, but we want it to be exciting for the right reasons. Business travelers can find themselves at particular risk because of a perception (right or wrong) that they have a high net worth. Therefore, here are 10 things that business travelers should know…

  1. Do not make your company or position known to the general public. The higher the position, the more tempting the target.
  2. Vary your routes and times as you come and go from the hotel to the office and back again. Be unpredictable and hard to follow.
  3. Try to blend in and look like the indigenous business people.
  4. Be willing to work from the hotel in the event that a local crisis unfolds.
  5. Begin new relationships by offering something of value.
  6. Be knowledgeable in your field and be prepared to prove your subject matter expertise.
  7. Have something unusual or uncommon to offer your counterparts in the host country.
  8. Be consistent in your treatment of people. Be a person of your word and establish yourself as absolutely dependable.
  9. Be utterly likable but be sure to be genuine.
  10. Be honest about who you are, what you have, and what you can do. Be prepared to prove it.

We travel for business all the time and these tips have never let us down. Establishing yourself as an person of excellence and integrity as well as being kind and respectful to all, go as far toward establishing your security as being proficient in self defense.

10 Critical Tips for Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be the most exciting thing ever to come into the life of a college student. It offers mystery, adventure, and the chance to get to know another culture personally. Most adults look back at their study abroad time with nostalgia. Here are 10 tips for how to conduct yourself as a student in someone else’s country…

  1. Be open to new and unusual experiences. It can be off-putting to compare the place where you are now to the place from which you came.
  2. Learn the language. Start with “please, thank you, I am sorry, yes (sir or ma’am), no (sir or ma’am), and excuse me”.
  3. Listen more than you speak. People enjoy being heard.
  4. Make an effort to remember people’s names and pronounce them properly.
  5. Understand social titles and address your peers and your teachers with respect.
  6. Understand the accepted interactions between people groups and know which interactions are considered unacceptable. (Males and females, teachers and students, etc.)
  7. Treat all of your elders with a public display of respect.
  8. Establish a relationship with people whom you can trust to answer your cultural and academic questions.
  9. Get out of the school/dorms and into the culture. Walk and dine and play and worship with the local people. These will be the memories you take home with you.
  10. Don’t begin a relationship by asking something of the other person. Begin it by offering them something instead, even something as simple as a compliment.

These things will make you a likable and memorable student. People will want to help you and you will have no trouble making friends. People will also look out for your well being and safety and give you an early warning if there is anything you need to know. Be genuine.

 

 

10 Critical Tips for International Vacationers

Anyone who leaves their country of origin for a destination abroad has any number of inherent challenges ahead of them. However, travel is an amazing experience which I would not care to withhold from anyone. It enriches lives, brings understanding and education, and leaves people with memories they will cherish for a lifetime.

The world is changing and many of the changes involve heightened security risks. The world grows smaller every day and every country and people group is influenced by others in far flung places. If we were to unravel geopolitics today, we would see how many nations have culpability in creating the problems we now face. The Taliban, Al Qa’ida, ISIS/ISIL, MS-13, the Bloods, the Crypts, the Dragon Lords, the FARQ, Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, Gulf Cartel, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Juarez Cartel, AQIM, Abu Sayyaf, AQAP, Al-Mourabitoun, Combat 18, KKK, Hamas, Hezbollah, IRA, Stern Gang, Irgun, and so many more were not created in a vacuum. Not one of these groups was birthed in isolation. Every one of them had help from foreign powers and depends on international appetites for its existence.

That is where the vacationer comes in. You may not be used to navigating these treacherous waters at home and it become a problem as you travel. Tourists, adventurers, explorers, backpackers, vacationers, climbers, scuba divers, and many other types of experience-driven people travel all over the world to partake in their passion in the best places. Geographically, the best places for scuba diving may be colocated with politically troubled areas. I do not want to stop anyone from experiencing the world, I just want them to stack the deck in their favor. Therefore, here is a list of just 10 essentials for the adventure-loving traveler…

  1. Plan. Your trip begins when you select a destination. Do your homework. Research the crime type/rate of your intended destination. Understand the risks and get a solid briefing by your own government.
  2. Be judicious about your use of social media and double screen everything that is out there about you. Know what is publicly available and understand how it could be used to target you.
  3. Create an emergency medical plan for any potential needs overseas and know what you can reasonably expect as far as the availability and modernization of destination hospitals.
  4. Take a Wilderness First Aid class so that you can handle whatever may happen while you are in remote areas. Ask your doctor for a broad spectrum antibiotic prescription, get it filled, and carry it with you.
  5. Create a communication plan with your loved ones back home with primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency methods of contact. Agree upon windows of time for communications and stick to them while you travel. Agree upon a course of action if you fail to check in.
  6. Familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding self-defense.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the baseline of the local population and blend in. Be one fish in a school of 10,000 identical fish.
  8. Check in with your embassy in your destination country and let them know your plans and whereabouts.
  9. Leave a packet with someone you trust before you go. It should contain: questions and answers that are known only to you, a video recording of your walk, an audio recording of your voice, a lock of your hair, a copy of your last will and testament, a copy of your final wishes for your own remains, a high quality photo of you, a signed copy of a consent to monitor form so that your government may track your phone if you go missing, and a power of attorney.
  10. Understand whether local law enforcement is trustworthy or criminally complicit. This will help you decide what to do if you get into trouble.

Please do not in fear. Plan your trip and enjoy yourself. Be aware and mitigate the risks of the modern world. If you have any questions about what any of these things mean or how to accomplish them, we would be honored to help you. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance before, during, or after your trip. Have fun and come back safely.

The Profitability of Human Trafficking

According to a February 2019 Borgen report, human trafficking in Africa is a $13.1 billion dollar a year industry. Out of this number, $8.9 billion comes from sexual exploitation. Victims of sex trafficking yield $21,800 each, due to high demand, so even while forced labor has three times more victims, sexual exploitation generates more than double the profits.

Conflict, weak economies, lawlessness, corrupt governments, and ungoverned spaces all contribute to the human trafficking problem on the African Continent. Some of the statistics count child soldiers and other forms of forced labor, however sex trafficking is the most lucrative business in which gangs, terrorists, and opportunists can get involved.  We have seen far too many reports of women and girls being kidnapped and sold in slave markets, and others being exploited in diamond mine camp brothels. It is safe to say that $8.9 billion USD is greater than the GDP of several African countries.

Many migrants are trying to escape African nations and get to Europe. They often find themselves duped into prostitution or forced labor in Libya or Egypt, which are the hubs. Others escape being exploited in Libya or Egypt, only to find themselves pressed into prostitution in Europe. Corruption, and lack of governance in these areas makes enforcing laws and policies difficult if not impossible.

We should ask ourselves how human trafficking in Africa has emerged as a $13.1 Billion dollar a year industry. If this is a microcosm of the rest of the world, it is frightening to look at other statistics and compare the billions of dollar figures on each continent with that of America, where it is an even bigger problem than on the African continent. Recent estimates indicate that Human Sex Trafficking as a whole nets of $100 Billion USD per year with most analysts assessing the numbers to be much higher.

What can we do about it? The biggest thing we at Captive Audience can recommend is not to be complacent or tolerant of trafficking. We challenge you to become informed, get training, and help others to recover from their harrowing ordeals. We can’t afford to ignore this reality because it is a global problem and it exists right in our backyard.

Moral Compass or Moral Agenda? One might get you killed.

Last week a couple from Utah were executed at a checkpoint and their twelve year old son shot by unidentified gunmen in Patatlan, Mexico. The family was traveling through Patatlan at 3:30AM on their way to Acapulco when they come upon a checkpoint run by unidentified gunmen. The family chose to try to run and lost their lives as a result. So you ask what this has got to do with a moral compass or a moral agenda? The father in this scenario was known as “Perfect Paul” because of his strict adherence to rules, policies, and procedures. Sadly that kind of perfection does not translate in Mexico or the rest of Latin America. That kind of perfection does not translate in Africa or Eastern Europe, and certainly not in most of Asia. The reality is that while traveling to much of the world, you may be faced with situations that involve two realities. Your two realities may be to make a bad decision or a worse decision.

In Mexico, and much of the rest of the world, there is an unwritten code that you must provide “tips” (really bribes) to law enforcement officers, military members, and local thugs who run check points. Yes in western society we call this paying a bribe. If you are a strict adherent to a moral agenda, failure to tip the police officer with a statement like “please give this to your family for me” as you hand them the money, could cost your life.

First let me add that traveling anywhere in Mexico at 3:30 AM is a horrible idea. In fact nothing good will happen between the hours beyond 8PM-7AM. It is best to ensure you are off the streets and tucked away off the road prior to 8PM. Second, you need to do your research on checkpoints, law enforcement, gangs, cartels, and opportunists before making a trip overseas. Some of your research questions should include asking about customary “tips” and how much you should have available for your travel.

My additional recommendation would be to determine where the discrepancies are between your do-not-cross lines and your willingness to handle checkpoints and other issues which may arise. A strict moral agenda is rigid and unyielding. It projects personal convictions onto others and demands that others adhere to what you believe to be right and wrong. In other words, it holds others to your own standards. A moral compass allows for course corrections to be made when presented with an unpleasant reality. In the end, it is important to know that you may only have two choices: a bad decision or a worse decision. Your life depends on you making decisions that keep you and your family safe when you travel.

We recommend that you do solid travel research before you travel. This research should always include talking to someone who has made the trip before. Make sure you understand local crime, kidnap and ransom, narcotics trafficking, murders, and the economy. It is critical to understand where you should go for help and who you should and should not trust. More than anything, we suggest you make those decisions well before you travel. Our Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival course will teach you what to do in situations like what happened to the family from Utah, and much more. Check out the link below. After all, it is only your life. What is that worth?

https://www.nyoffroaddriving.com/product/anti-kidnapping-survival-aug-21-23/