The 10 Ackerman Principles of Counterterrorism

Consultant and author Mike Ackerman's 10 counterterrorism principles for business.

1. Expect Global Jihad to confront us for decades and to target Western economic interests, especially those related to oil. Other terrorist groups will also attack commercial interests. Terrorists will be the skunk at the globalization lawn party.

2. Do your best to acquire a solid grasp of the risks that pertain in areas in which you are doing business or intend to do business—ideally from several sources. Corporations in general undervalue risk analysis. The informed manager has a distinct advantage over competitors.

3. Don't be intimidated by those risks. In most cases, you can bolster your defenses and go about your business. Remember the Jim Flannery dictum: "Perfect security means doing nothing in a vacuum."

4. On the other hand, always weigh the risks against the potential rewards of a given project. Devise strategies for curtailing risks. Certainly avoid unnecessary risks.

5. Investigate thoroughly key employees, distributors, vendors, jointventure partners, and domestics. You will have your hands full with external forces and you don't need problems inside your tent.

6. Train personnel bound for high-risk areas in protective tactics. Training is the most cost-effective means of enhancing their safety. Even senior managers should develop a thorough understanding of their security arrangements.

7. Don't fall in love with security technology. It is an aide, not an answer. Armored cars, for example, though a useful part of a security program, should not be considered impenetrable cocoons.

8. Well-trained bodyguards also have a role to play in protecting senior personnel, but their value lies more in deterring attacks and forestalling them by spotting early-warning signs than in responding with lethal force.

9. If confronted by assailants, choose reason over heroism. If unarmed, follow the assailants' instructions. If armed, consider that you might be outgunned.

10. Prepare diligently for crises. Expect the unexpected, and when emergencies arise, respond thoughtfully, and not by rote or reflex. For example, it is often best to stay put instead of heading for the exits in the immediate aftermath of a coup or an uprising.

From Counterterrorism Strategies for Corporations: The Ackerman Principles (Prometheus Books, 2008). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.Mike Ackerman served in the CIA's Clandestine Services for 11 years, undertaking intelligence operations in some 20 European, Latin American and African countries, and was also a security officer in the Strategic Air Command. He is managing director of Ackermangroup. Counterterrorism Strategies for Corporations: The Ackerman Principles is available through

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