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Syria and Daesh update March 2017

As the situation in Mosul Iraq intensifies and the achievements of Iraqs Security Forces against Daesh are publicly promoted there is increased media and NGO activity both here and across the border in Syria. The next big focus for such is the humanitarian consequences of Mosul's liberation and what will be next for Daesh and its shrinking so called caliphate.

In Iraq whilst the military operation to liberate Mosul comes to its close the politics, instability and insecurity associated with the ethnic divisions, the role of Iraqs militia hashd and the complications of other stakeholders will not only undermine the rebuilding of the region, but is likely to cause security vacuums and instability in other parts prolonging the security risks in the country.

As this plays out in Iraq, in parallel the core triangle of stakeholders will close in on Daesh in Syria determined to take advantage of their losses and take Raqqa, the so called caliphates capital, and core to its strength.

This triangle of Sunni Arab Rebels, Kurdish led militia groups and the Syrian regime all with their own agendas desperately require Raqqa for themselves as a crucial leverage in any political settlement in the country, ensuring a likely new phase of violence that has the potential to engage further the wider regional sponsors and supporters.

This not only has continued and evolving risks for our clients in and around the region, but will provide Daesh with the distraction and conduit they require to reinvent once again their insurgency and attack new areas, whilst exporting more terror and increasing the risks in new regions.

It is likely that the hard core central Daesh fighters will reorganise, resupply and reposition themselves in new regional areas where they can take advantage of security vulnerabilities and political instability. Others will migrate to other jihadist groups and conflicts in places like Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan. Whilst a cohort of specialists or those with access and networks will export the groups terror globally or return to their homelands for recruiting and targeting operations.

Accordingly it is crucial that despite any new phase of superficial security and new front lines, those operating in or close to such regions continue to examine the evolving risk with significant diligence and rely on fixers and local regional groups with great care.

Kidnappings and targeted attacks are likely to intensify and a period of great operational risk is likely to last some time.

Consult with your designated Consultant, in country security advisers or contact us for further advice and support.


Afghanistan update March 2017

As Daesh or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria dissolve further into the desert areas of their diminished so called caliphate, there is a body of intelligence suggesting the group will reorganise itself into smaller insurgency units. It is suggested some such insurgency units have plans to attack, cause instability, raise finances and terrorise new regions in Iraq and Syria, with other units specifically chosen for their skills, service or connections likely to enhance the groups operations in Libya and other African regions, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

In Afghanistan new Daesh financing, migration and supply intelligence seems to suggest a new phase of operations may be in the planning stage with activity suggesting kidnappings, robberies and small insurgent style attacks will increase and lead to more sophisticated coordinated audacious attacks on military, government and western targets.

Turkey security update March 2017

Managing security across Turkey is a significant operation with the MiT or National Intelligence Organisation, specialist Police and Military units consistently foiling terrorist attacks.

Since the attempted coup a strong security focus has been on political stabilisation, but with Syria and Iraq on its southern doorstep and Iran and the Russians over its shoulder, balancing its vigilance, border security and internal stability with its place on the international stage, not to mention its important business and tourism magnet is a convoluted challenge.

As Daesh in Syria and Iraq is dissolved it seems Intelligence is suggesting Turkey shall be a core conduit route for many Daesh fighters looking for rest, recuperation, reorganisation and resupply. Whilst some senior fighters and specialist units are likely to reorganise in the desert regions of the Euphrates, before reenergising their insurgency against new vulnerabilities in Iraq and Syria, others will migrate to other conflict areas like Libya, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Many will be tasked with an export of terror into Turkey and Europe or the reconnaissance and recruitment within potential new regional areas like Sudan, South Sudan, Egypt and beyond.

Accordingly our intelligence directorate has increased the risk and precautions required for clients operating or travelling in many parts of Turkey with the terrorism risks increasing and kidnappings likely to increase as refinancing Daesh and associated cohorts becomes a central reorganising strategy.

Nigeria kidnap risk update February 2017

Kidnappings in Nigeria have often made the headlines, but they have normally been associated with the Niger Delta, Oil and a number of militia type groups wanting a very small share of the market or the terrorist group Boko Haram and its mass kidnappings of women and men to support their fighting or gain political influence for their cause or messaging platform. However, amongst the often chaotic activities of Nigerias large cities with its renowned corruption, scams and petty crime is a growing Kidnap and Hoax Kidnapping epidemic.

Small criminal cohorts are targeting organisations and individuals travelling or operating in Nigeria using social media and other cyber activity. Searching for finances, opportunity, and the targets desire to continue its work in the country its gangs are planning abductions with care, targeting vulnerabilities and kidnapping the target for ransoms.

On occasions an actual abduction does not even take place, but a window of unavailable connectivity like a long flight or activity enables a comprehensive hoax with serious fast demands for ransoms.

When kidnappings do occur the victim is often held captive in a rural or urban areas, where treatment varies greatly, but mistreatment trends are becoming more common. Abduction, captivity, negotiations and exchanges once more benign than other kidnapping regions are now becoming more audacious and sophisticated.

When managed discreetly, diplomatically and with great diligence a successful resolution is achieved, but on many cases poor management by the authorities, employer or family has led to serious and even tragic complications that were unnecessary.

Clients travelling or operating in Nigeria should professionally examine the risks, and have tested systems and contingencies to mitigate and respond to any crisis accordingly.

Afghanistan VBIED MAIED Increased use of sticky bombs January 2017

There is a rapidly expanding tactical strategy across Afghanistan to use MAIED's (Magnetically Adhesive Improvised Explosive Devices), commonly called 'sticky bombs'. These small devices are easily attached to vehicles (often near the fuel tank) becoming the perfect assassination threat of targeting the vehicles occupants or even more alarming the perfect Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), with the occupants driving the MAIED into a checkpoint, compound or targeted convoy with devastating impact.

These devices contain much less explosive material, but can still have the desired terrorist effect. Taliban Commanders have claimed they are making these across Afghanistan and are using them to target individuals and specific secured areas, limiting civilian casualties. Once a weapon of choice of both al-Qeada in Iraq and later Islamic State in Iraq, it's a tactic ideal, circumventing security.

Like most Improvised Explosive Devices (IED,s) they can be detonated in many ways and the Taliban are using them effectively as an assassination tool against many targets. Security vehicle and convoy procedures must careful incorporate greater awareness of any drive alongside placement of such devices by motorbikes, etc.

Whilst it was considered that initially these devices were sourced from Pakistan, there is evidence to suggest they are now made in country by a number of Taliban cells and may be being adopted by the Islamic State in parts.


Venezuela – Security update January 2017
A number of similar criminal kidnappings for ransom against foreign nationals in recent months, and the emergence and evolution of new kidnap gangs suggests the fragile economic situation in the region is increasing the kidnap risk. To date the main victims seem to have been targeted due to their business profile.


Afghanistan kidnap trends update - November 2016

Despite some success in recent months by the Afghan Security and Intelligence apparatus, the kidnapping risk by criminal and militia gangs in major cities like Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Herat and in many rural regions continues to increase. Furthermore, kidnappers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, using military and police uniforms, firearms, surveillance and social media as part of the targeting and abduction phase. Initial ransom demands have also increased and with the Taliban fighting spring offensive imminent, and a competing battle for support, funds and land by Daesh, Al-Qeada, the Haqqani network and other groups (all who use kidnapping to raise funds), the risk of kidnapping across much of Afghanistan is intensifying.


Nigeria security update – October  2016

The risk of terror attacks by Boko Haram and other emerging groups continues and the risk of kidnap for ransom by both these groups and criminal networks remains high. In an escalating trend both virtual and hoax kidnappings carried out by a number of organised criminal cohorts is increasing with many foreign nationals targeted in recent months.

In the Niger Delta region where negotiations with a number of organised gangs, criminal youths and ethnic tribal groups has ensured a relatively stable period of security, there are new signs of increasing fragmentation in any stability. Youth gangs are once again becoming more sophisticated in vandalism, violence and attacks against companies operating in the region and tribal groups and insurgent style organisations are once again planning attacks and targeting companies and individuals for kidnapping ransom, oil revenue and extortion. A full re-assessment of security and intelligence is required to mitigate risks in this region.

Nigeria continues to evolve as a major kidnapping threat region, with the number of incidents, sophistication, and initial ransom demands all increasing.


Social media security risks – kidnapping – September 2016

Recent incidents in Nigeria, India, Afghanistan, Mexico and other regions suggest kidnap and militia groups are becoming more sophisticated in their kidnap targeting and abduction through the use of social media platforms. Many groups now use such platforms to identify victims, their routines, connections, position, family and or business affluence, and even understand their families or employees likely strategy in managing the kidnapping. As such social media security, awareness and privacy is of significant importance if you, a family member, or employee are at risk of such incidents. Consider carefully privacy settings, what information can be ascertained from likes, posts, groups connections and your photos. Furthermore, even if you are cautious, if your connections or friends posts, photos or comments are visible ensure they don't compromise your security by association.

The Cavell Groups New Behavioural Analysis Unit working with our Intelligence and Kidnap experts October 2016

The Cavell Groups new Behavioural Analysis Directorate uses the sciences of Psychology, Criminology, Anthropology, Graphology and Voice analysis combined with its myriad of intelligence and profiling disciplines to carefully understand, predict, prevent and promote human behaviours. This unique approach provides us with a dynamic capability in the crafting of strategies to resolve crisis and mitigate risks for our clients.

This unit has also played an active part in the selection and development of specialist teams for specific high risk projects for a broad range of clients.


2015/16 News archived in secure login region


Iraq June 9 2014

Emerging phase of significant security risks – Iraq

Terrorism, Kidnapping Risks

There is a growing body of intelligence and numerous recent incidents suggesting an alarming emerging phase of instability across many regions in Iraq. Numerous well organised kidnappings have occurred targeting business travellers, both in busy cities and on remote roads, along with many improvised explosive device attacks on a broad range of targets. Criminal gangs involved in kidnappings and extortion had been an ongoing problem since the fragmentation of Iraq’s society post western intervention, but terrorist related kidnappings and bombings had decreased significantly since troops withdrew.

However, this new increasingly dangerous phase has been on the rise since 2013 with the United Nations reporting more than 8,000 people killed last year, the highest figure since 2007. Whilst primarily this is as a consequence of rising sectarian violence, the growing numbers and activities of the Al Qaeda linked terrorist group Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), and their operations and fundraising for their campaign in neighbouring Syria, is behind many recent kidnappings and bombing attacks and not likely to decrease anytime soon.

Advanced weaponry and training, (primarily via Syria conduits), and the ever increasing porous borders with Syria has increased the strength, confidence and capability of such groups, leaving Iraq’s political, intelligence and security apparatus struggling to keep such groups in check. In fact many parts of the Western regions of Iraq are now completely lawless, dangerously in the control of groups and factions, and a hot bed of recruitment, training and militant strategic planning.

If you are travelling or operating anywhere within Iraq and the wider region, despite a mostly calm unthreatening environment in many areas, significant security precautions and high quality counter surveillance is an absolute necessity to mitigate risks.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for further advice and review our further analysis using your secure login.

Kenya May 15 2014

Terrorism, Kidnapping Risks

Due to recent terrorist attacks in Kenya and intelligence relating to further imminent incidents, clients in the North of the country should take all necessary precautions. Intelligence suggests that the Al Shabaab terrorist group and militia associates may have active cells in Kenya planning further attacks and targeting victims for Politically Motivated Kidnappings and Merchant Kidnappings for Ransoms. The primary kidnapping risks are close to the Somalia border, specifically rural remote areas and areas within 50km of the border, the Garissa District, Kiwayu and associated coastal areas around Pate Island, and the low socio economic suburbs of Nairobi. When at western hotels, tourist sites or western bars, restaurants and shopping malls significant precautions should be taken to be aware of the kidnapping and terrorism risks.

The same applies to western locations and sites in and around Mombasa. There is also an increased risk of protests or angry crowds quickly escalating into dangerous incidents due to significant tensions in communities around a number of issues, including the recent death of a prominent cleric.

Clients should avoid crowds, mosques, markets and sites of potential gatherings and should also monitor carefully their various Governments travel advice. Clients should keep their escape bags and pouches with them at all times, follow risk management and security plans with diligence and consider and carefully apply all their security and safety training. Don’t hesitate to contact us for further advice and review our further analysis using your secure login.


Northern Nigeria 9 May 2014

Terrorism attacks, militia attacks, kidnappings

A number of journalists, photojournalists, supporters, business people and even tourists have either travelled to, or may be attempting to travel to, Chibok and its surrounding regions in the North East of Nigeria, due to the recent media attention in relation to the kidnappings of some 200 school girls. Clients and others should note there remains a protracted danger across this region, and in many associated regions, (including regions previously unaffected to date), by Boko Harm and associated militia in the form of kidnappings, attacks and violence. Intelligence suggests Boko Haram and its associated kidnapping gangs and militia groups are actively targeting kidnap victims in this region and are planning further kidnappings, terrorism and militia attacks against Nigerian military/Law enforcement, local communities, churches, schools and any western targets. If you must be in any of the North Eastern regions you should review all your security and risks management protocols, take the most serious security precautions and have significant professional support on the ground. Clients should contact that designated Consultant or seek assistance from our Specialist Support Team Operatives. Login using your secure login for further analysis.

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