Posts categorised as Array

The Butterfly Effect

The conflict in Gaza and the wider security implications


Clients have, not unsurprisingly, been asking us about the conflict in Gaza and the implications for their operations and travellers in the Middle East and beyond. It’s not an easy question to answer however, some of the wider security implications are becoming apparent.

Clearly there are some immediate implications in the region, the potential for the conflict to extend beyond Gaza itself. The response of Hezbollah, somewhat muted so far, and the resulting implications for the Lebanon, instability in the West Bank and Jerusalem. These are direct and linear effects emanating from the conflict; the so called ‘ripple effect’.

More widely however, the implications are less predictable, events in Gaza sometimes triggering a complex chain of events with non-linear impacts; the so called ‘butterfly effect’, or chaos theory.

By way of example the conflict triggered a series of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London which then triggered a counter protest over the Remembrance weekend. This led to a debate over the rights of protestors, the dignity of Remembrance and role of the police, resulting in the eventual sacking of the British Home Secretary, an ultimate outcome of events in Gaza which no one could have predicted at the start.

So, what other wider implications and effects are worth noting?

Firstly, there is of course the increase in threats to and harassment of Jewish communities and synagogues in the UK and elsewhere and the targeting of Israeli and US embassies by pro-Palestinian demonstrators. The recent arrests in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands of suspected terrorists with links to Hamas bear witness to this. The groups were reportedly tasked with planning attacks against Jewish Synagogues in Europe.

Secondly, there is the more worrying increase in the threat from lone actors and independent groups planning and conducting attacks across Europe. A lone actor attack in Paris resulted in the death of a German tourist and injuries to three others including a British national. While in Germany, two separate planned attacks have been disrupted targeting traditional Christmas markets in Hanover and Leverkusen.

As a result, the EU commissioner for Home Affairs has issued a wider warning citing ‘a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union’ over the Christmas period  and beyond, including major sporting events such as the Paris Olympics and Euro 2024, which is due to take place in June.

Evidence has also emerged of Iranian attempts to exploit the conflict including the targeting of Jewish and Israeli interests, and use of private investigators and criminal groups to conduct reconnaissance and planning activities in Europe. According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy over fifty such operations have been detected across the globe with a quarter of these in the UK. The Iranians have also been accused of attempting to inspire radical lone actors into conducting independent attacks too.

Other regional players are also being drawn in, with the Iranians reportedly  promoting action along the so called ‘Axis of Resistance’ which runs from Iran through Syria, and Palestine and includes the Shia groups in Iraq and the Houthis in the Yemen. The latter have recently mounted rocket and drone attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea and US and French Naval vessels have responded to these attacks escalating the conflict in the Yemen.

So, what does this mean in terms of overseas travel and project risk? Well, based on recent events we can identify four specific threat dimensions:

  • The direct effect of the conflict on countries bordering Israel and Gaza
  • Civil disorder, demonstrations and protests in major cities across the globe
  • The targeting of Jewish communities and Israeli interests particularly in Europe
  • The increased potential for lone actor attacks such as the one in Paris and the two planned in Germany but potentially against westerners around the world

So, what should you do?

Firstly, keep abreast of the situation and any wider effects either internally or through a risk management company and adjust your security planning in response to any significant developments.

Secondly, consider the four threat dimensions above and the implications for your organisation in terms of your international footprint; your travellers and projects in the immediate area, particularly Israel and Lebanon, being given special attention.

Thirdly, adjust your wider travel security guidance to reflect the current situation. Perhaps advising business travellers to Germany to avoid visiting the major Christmas markets for instance, or advising staff to avoid staying in hotels close to a US or Israeli Embassy and to avoid being caught up in any planned demonstrations that could lead to disruption or public disorder.

Fourthly, in terms of their personal security, make sure staff understand the evolving threat picture and the potential implications on specific travel plans, and recognise the importance of maintaining good situational awareness when in public spaces, bearing in mind the increased lone actor threat.

The lone actor threat is universal and by its nature hard to detect and disrupt. Due to events in Ukraine many western intelligence services have also been required to focus more of their resources on the Russian threat rather than counter terrorism which means their coverage of such groups and individuals has perhaps been reduced.

Hence we emphasise the importance of ensuring that your staff are well briefed, receive appropriate personal security training and are suitably supported when overseas, particularly if traveling to the Middle East.

For more information and advice, you can contact us at


David Curran MA CSyP FSyl, Chartered FCIPD

Architects of Learning

Building a learner-centred environment for travel risk training


The last few years has been a challenging time for everyone including Edson Tiger helping clients manage the trials and tribulations of post-Covid travel regimes and the impact of Covid on travel health planning.

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Secrets and Lies

The threat from hostile intelligence services to commercial organisations


Recent events in Afghanistan and the long term implications, in terms of international terrorism, have somewhat overshadowed some other news stories. These include the arrest of a security officer from the British Embassy in Berlin due to his suspected relationship with the Russian intelligence services and the extent to which China has increased its influence and access to institutions within Cambridge and other UK universities; the latter in the wake of revelations regarding Chinese use of Linked In and other social media platforms to target and cultivate US and UK scientific and technical more

Training for Travel online

Edson Tiger launches a new online blended learning platform for travel risk and personal security training

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the business travel industry you may be wondering why anyone would choose now to launch a new online platform for travel risk training. Well, according to Edson Tiger director David Curran, the answer is simple, because our clients have asked us to.

“If travel is an essential part of your business then the requirement is still there. Even amongst those clients who have seen travel activity reduced or even curtailed altogether many want to continue with their travel risk training programmes in anticipation of a return to more familiar travel patterns in the future.”read more

Travelling Smart

Security Management and Risk Travel Training (SMART Travel Training)

Last month we highlighted the diversity of threats that travellers face in an ever more complex and challenging world. The spread of Coronavirus from China to over fifty countries over the past month and the impact it is having on travel is a case in point. There is an ever-increasing emphasis on the individual traveller to self-manage their security in the face of unpredictable events, requiring individual competency rather than simply organisational capability in the form of policies and procedures.

Our solution is to make sure that all travellers receive the right information and personal security training to ensure they are fully competent and properly prepared. SMART Travel Training is Edson Tiger’s unique system for the organisation wide design and delivery of travel risk training; not only for travellers but also for those involved in the management of travel more

Events, Dear Boy, Events

Why it really is time to take travel risk training seriously

When Harold Macmillan, the then Prime Minister was asked what the most difficult aspect of his job was he replied, “Events, dear boy, events”. Thus, reflecting what we all know, that it’s the unexpected that presents us with the greatest challenges.

Well the New Year has already certainly been eventful when it comes to international incidents. We wrote recently about the possible implications of the death of the Iranian Quds Force commander, Soleimani. As predicted the initial impact has been felt in Iraq, with missile attacks on two US bases, and in Iran with the detention of the British Ambassador and demonstrations outside the British Embassy. Iranian reaction has since been tempered by the shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner close to Tehran but longer term we can expect to see wider repercussions across the Middle East.

In Africa we have seen an upsurge in attacks by Al Shabaab in Kenya since the beginning of January, including the apparent targeting of a British military base; not to mention a plague of locusts. While in Cyprus, the conviction then the release of a British woman for perverting the course of justice in relation to a rape claim has highlighted the hazards faced by young females travelling to countries with different legal more

The Demise of Iran’s Warrior Monk

Assessing the implications of the death of General Soleimani

The media is full of reporting and analysis as a result of the death of General Soleimani due to US intervention, the promise of retaliation by Iran and threat of further attacks on fifty-two Iranian sites by the US if they do. The reporting has focused on the wider strategic defence and security implications but what does it mean for other organisations with assets and personnel in or visiting the region?  Here we attempt to provide a practical look at the changing threat environment and offer some advice on what should be done.

Who was he and why is he important?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the gravity of this event. Soleimani was a senior and respected Iranian General who reported directly to the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. For over twenty years he has commanded the Quds Force. A unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps charged with conducting unconventional warfare and special operations on behalf of the Iranian state as a cornerstone of their foreign more

Franchising Terror

What next from Islamic State?

Islamic State (IS) in Syria as a territorial entity has effectively been defeated. As a result, over 30,000 fighters and families have been displaced with many being held in Kurdish camps including some foreign fighters. Al Baghdadi the organisation’s leader has responded by making a rare video appearance. His message, I am still here and so is Islamic State, our focus has changed but we are still leading the struggle. He refers to the long battle ahead and to affiliates across the globe, specifically acknowledging the recent attacks in Sri Lanka as an example of a partnership in terror.

Sitting on the floor cross legged, with a short barrel AK 47 at his side in a pose mimicking that of Usama Bin Laden in footage after 9/11. Baghdadi, casting himself in the image of a guerrilla leader and IS as an insurgency movement rather than as the established Khalif of an Islamic State, as he did when he last stood before the cameras in Mosul five years ago.

A reminder that the threat from Islamic State is multifaceted and global and still represents the primary international terrorist threat. Its perhaps illustrative that the US governments price on Al Baghdadi’s head is now twenty-five million USD, while Usama Bin Laden’s son only commands a mere one more

Blank Walls and Dry Bars

Loss of liberty due to state actor intervention

Much is written and said about the threat from kidnapping and hostage taking overseas and a lucrative industry has developed around kidnap and ransom insurance policies and negotiating expertise. The reality, however, is that you or your staff are far more likely to be detained by state actors such as the police or immigration services than by criminals or terrorists, yet the subject gets far less coverage. So, what are the key issues to consider?

We discuss loss of liberty, as we call it on our Complex Environment Awareness Training (CEAT) courses from a kidnap perspective but also possible arrest or detention by state actors. At the outset we always ask our students “have any of you been detained?” It’s very rare to find anyone who has been a kidnap victim, bar our own loss of liberty instructor who was held by the Khmer Rouge while working as a UN Observer!

On the other hand, we do on occasion come across one or two in a group who have been arrested. In fact, around 6,000 British nationals are detained while overseas every year with over 100, around 2%, complaining to the UK authorities of ill treatment or more

Beyond the Barricades

2019 a look at the year ahead

With the Christmas and New Year break over inevitably the news will soon be full of Brexit yet again, the prospect of a no deal and barricades at Dover manned by the Border Force. Last year the word Brexit was apparently used on Radio 4’s Today Programme five and a half million times. The danger for those of us who need to take a wider international view of global security is that Brexit threatens to drown out all other news and thus skew our interpretation of world events.

A broader look at international reporting over the month of December paints an interesting picture at the strategic and tactical level. The US withdrawal of troops from Syria threatens to push the Kurds into an awkward alliance with President Assad in order to avoid destruction by Turkish forces and in so doing increase the regime’s leverage. Assad loyalists, Iran and Russia will inevitably gain while the West may lose a valuable ally in Syria and Iraq and thus change the balance of power in the Middle more