189 – Attacks That Have Changed the Way We Work and Train

In this episode and the next, we focus on the vehicle attacks( ambushes or assassinations) that have changed the way Executive Protection and Secure Transportation practitioners work and train. 

These events are:

  • Hans Martin Schleyer
  • Aldo Moro
  • Alfred Herrhausen
  • John Butler

In this episode, I discuss Hans Martin Schleyer and Aldo Moro. Next week will be Alfred Herrhausen and John Butler. 

Listen to the Podcast

Watershed Events

The ambush and eventual assassination of Aldo Moro and Hans Martin Schleyer were watershed events. 

These two vehicle attacks happened in the late 70s, approximately six months apart. Before these two events, security practitioners were having a hard time convincing management that moving from point A to point B in a vehicle was a problem that needed some attention. In the late 1970s, the EP and security driving training businesses were in their infancy. Unlike the modern environment, where the phrase “security driver and secure transportation” is used by many as a marketing term, in the 70s, you could count the number of companies supplying those services on one hand.

During that period, a comment Tony Scotti heard many times from executives was, “The terrorists aren’t organized. After all, we’re dealing with unsophisticated rabble.” In their eyes, the solution was to put a guy with a gun next to the driver, and maybe guys with more guns in a vehicle following the principal. Problem solved.

Moro and Schleyer got everyone’s attention because they had what was considered at the time to be good and effective “protection.” But they were still kidnapped, and their bodyguard teams were eliminated rather easily. These two vehicle attacks, although decades old, shaped what we do; they were the catalyst for creating an industry. It got the C Suite management thinking that maybe we needed to look at things differently.

Hans Martin Schleyer History

From Wikipedia

Mr. Schleyer was a German member of the SS, business executive, and employer and industry representative, who served as President of two powerful commercial organizations, the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, BDA) and the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, BDI). He became a target for radical elements of the German student movement in the 1970s for his role in those business organizations, positions in the labor disputes, aggressive appearance on television, conservative anti-communist views, position as a prominent member of the Christian Democratic Union, and past as an enthusiastic member of the Nazi student movement and a former SS officer.

Schleyer Scenario

On September 5, 1977, shortly after 5:00 PM, Schleyer left his office in Cologne Germany to drive home. He took his usual route home in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes. At approximately 5:00 PM the Baader – Meinhof group (BMG) could count on the Schleyer two-car convoy to be at a particular intersection near his office.

Schleyer is in the lead car – a non-armored Mercedes – he is sitting in the back seat – no other security other than the driver. His car is followed by another non-armored Mercedes with a driver and two security personnel – all police officers. 

As they turn into the street there is a VW Micro Bus parked at the corner. The occupants of the vehicle are members of the Baader-Meinhof group. About halfway down the street, a car driving in the wrong way down the one-way street approaches Schleyer’s vehicle. 

A lady with a baby carriage is standing on the sidewalk – in the baby carriage was an automatic weapon. Also standing on the sidewalk were two other members of the BMG; Elapsed time – 20 Seconds.

The car driving the wrong way quickly cuts in front of Schleyer’s car and forces his car to turn sharply to the right and drive into the curb 

As the blocking car turned into the two-car convoy the lady pushed the baby carriage into the street, this was to block the street in the event Schleyer’s driver decided to drive around the car that blocked the road. 

The second car, containing the bodyguards crashed into the rear of Schleyer’s car; Elapsed time – 30 Seconds

The terrorists, who were parked in the Volkswagen van walked up to the backup car with the bodyguards and fired their weapons, submachine guns, and a shotgun into the car. 

The lady with the baby carriage and two other members of the BMG standing on the side of the road also fired into the bodyguard’s car.

A passenger in the blocking vehicle came walking up to the driver of Schleyer’s car and shot him at point-blank range; the shooter was careful not to hit Schleyer; Elapsed time – 40 Seconds.

Schleyer was taken from the Mercedes and put into the Volkswagen van. 

As an indication of the planning and organization involved in the ambush and kidnapping, it took about 90 seconds

The Van backed out of the street and drove to an underground garage. They put Schleyer into another vehicle and drove away.  The obvious planning and attention to detail in this kidnapping was remarkable even when compared to the precision tactics of other kidnappings.

Aldo Moro Scenario

The kidnapping of the highly respected elder statesman of Italian politics, Aldo Moro, shocked the world. The kidnapping of Aldo Moro would be similar to the kidnapping of former President Clinton or Bush. After the kidnapping, Italy came to a standstill.

Shortly after 9:00 a.m., having stopped at a nearby church for communion, Moro was en route to Parliament. He went to the same church, at the same time every morning. He established a pattern that was easy to figure out.  Every morning you could count on Aldo Moro being at the same intersection at the same time.

Moro was sitting in the backseat of his vehicle with a driver and bodyguard sitting in the front seat. Three security guards followed in another vehicle. Two members of the Red Brigade were following behind.

As Moro’s two-vehicle convoy approached the intersection, four men dressed in Alitalia Airline uniforms were standing at the intersection. They appear to be waiting for a bus – but they are members of the RAF. In their flight bags, they had automatic weapons.  The Red Brigade vehicle passes and cuts in front of Moro’s vehicle, and slams on the brakes causing Moro’s car to crash into it.

The Red Brigade driver and passenger from the blocking car get out as if to check whether there had been any damages.

Approaching Moro’s car from both sides, they pulled out pistols and shot the driver and security guard that was sitting in the front seat of Moro’s car, killing them instantly; Elapsed time – 15 Seconds.

At the same time, the four men in the Alitalia Airline uniforms approached the backup car and, with their automatic weapons killing two of the three instantly; Elapsed time – 20 Seconds.

The third security officer rolled out of the car onto the street and was able to get three shots off before he was neutralized by a fatal shot from a sniper on a nearby roof.

The Red Brigade kidnappers transferred Moro, along with a briefcase containing official documents and medications, to a different vehicle that pulled up alongside the ambush.

They drive away from the ambush – total elapsed time – 45 Seconds. They try to negotiate the release of jailed Red Brigade members. The Negotiations failed and Red Brigade members assassinated Moro.

The obvious planning and attention to detail in this kidnapping were remarkable. The escape route involved entering a restricted street which was closed off with a padlocked chain. The kidnappers were prepared for this with bolt-cutters.

A simulated accident in the near vicinity diverted traffic from the site of the attack. To further the diversion of traffic and pedestrians, false bomb reports were made in other areas. The telephone system was apparently out of order immediately following the attack in the district where the kidnap occurred. The diplomatic license tags on the decoy car had been stolen from the Venezuela Embassy more than a year before the attack.

Lessons Learned

Moro and Schleyer had the appearance of protection, as a protector, you have to know the difference between real protection and the appearance of protection. Understand your limitations. With Schleyer and Moro, as with many other attacks, the terrorists eliminate the bodyguards swiftly and carefully. In the two kidnappings, the bodyguards never had a chance to return fire.

You need to have the right equipment – that means a vehicle that can do the job. In a high-risk environment doing the job is defined as an armored vehicle that will stop whatever rounds it is they are going to shoot at you. If you are in a Level 4 vehicle and they are firing Level 7 rounds, it’s is like taking a knife to a gunfight. You need the right tools for the job.


Join the ISDA

Do you have an interest in going much deeper into these topics? If so, I invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association’s website and consider joining the membership. Upon entering, you will access the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – The ISDA Knowledge Center.

For more information on all of the member benefits, head over to isdacenter.org.

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