There is a special wall in the lobby of Corporate Training Unlimited dedicated to lost friends. The smiling Marine seen climbing aboard a jeep was among 241 killed when a truck loaded with explosives crashed into Marine headquarters in Beirut in 1983.
Another photo shows the burned wreckage of a transport plane and helicopters in the desert. Company president Donald Feeney was on that plane, as part of the Army's Delta Force unit sent to free American hostages in Iran in 1980. Feeney survived. Eight others died.Terrorism isn't an abstract concept at Corporate Training Unlimited (CTU), an international security consulting and training firm. It's personal. Understanding and fighting it are a life's work.
These days, most of the staff is in the Middle East. CTU Executive Vice President Judy Feeney - instructor, personal protection agent and wife of Donald Feeney - is holding down the fort. There's been a 50 percent increase in business since war began in the Persian Gulf.
``Right now, we're in a state of crisis management,' says Judy Feeney, 35. ``But what we prefer to do is get in on the ground floor of security before it becomes a crisis.'
CTU specializes in anti- and counter-terrorism tactics and techniques. The staff consists primarily of former members of the U.S. Army Special Forces and Delta Force, an elite counter-terrorism unit created at Fort Bragg in the late '70s.
How CTU came to be\ Donald Feeney created CTU five years ago after a military career that included service with the Ranger Battalion, Special Forces and the original Delta Force team. The full-time staff numbers fewer than 15, but CTU draws on a much larger base of experts locally and abroad.
Two staffers, David Chatellier and Tony Paniagua, are a study in contrasts.
Chatellier, 51, is a bear of a man with recruiting-poster looks - close-cropped hair, steely eyes and the level expression of one who knows your weaknesses. You wouldn't notice Paniagua, 46, in a crowd, with his average build, caramel-colored skin, mustache and curly hair.
``I can fit into any ethnic group - Arab, Latin, black,' says the soft-spoken Paniagua, revealing a Latin accent. ``You can't tell to look at me.'
On-the-job horrors\ Nor can you tell to look at him that Paniagua has found former associates hacked to pieces in distant jungles; he talks about it so calmly that the horror soaks in slowly. They don't talk about their feelings at CTU, and they don't show them. To protect their own security, they say, neither man will permit photographs.
CTU's customers include Fortune 500 companies, Feeney says, and most prefer confidentiality. She will say that CTU provided personal protection in Israel for the producer of ``Rambo III' and for the wife of actor Louis Gossett Jr. when he was filming ``Iron Eagle II.' There is a plaque of thanks on the wall from Shell Oil Co.
But the first time most people heard about the low-profile group was in 1988 when CTU rescued 7-year-old Lauren Bayan from Jordan, where the American-born child was being held illegally by her Jordanian father. CTU took the child off of a school bus and smuggled her out of the country.
``We have been involved in several recoveries,' Feeney says. ``We didn't do it for notoriety. We did it because it was the right thing to do.'
Feeney says CTU is not a renegade commando group, but a responsible business that works closely with government agencies at home and overseas.
``We won't go against U.S. policy anywhere in the world,' Paniagua adds.
The company provides security and trains police SWAT teams, but primarily it teaches corporations and individuals how to avoid becoming targets of terrorism.
Right now, experts from CTU are conducting security surveys to help corporations in the Middle East guard against terrorist attack.
``One of the key things we're looking at is what is the best, most effective, most expedient way to get people out of these countries,' Feeney says.
In peaceful times, most companies don't want to think about security because it's an investment that doesn't provide a monetary return, says Chatellier, CTU's senior vice president. And the investment can be enormous.
``What do you think it would cost to provide security at the embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for a year?' Chatellier says. ``This is using local people, Hondurans, who aren't used to making more than $40 a week. Right now, it's running between $1.5 and $3.5 million a year. And this isn't Shell-South America, with miles of pipeline strung out all over the country. This is one building.'
Instead of maintaining their own security forces, most companies prefer to put their employees through ``Executive Terrorism Awareness,' a two- to three-day program that begins with a course called ``Introduction to Terrorism.'
``We teach you how a terrorist thinks, what they have to go through to carry out a terrorist act,' Judy Feeney says.
Terrorism has many faces, says Paniagua, CTU's South American expert.
``You have to go back into the background, culture and economics of different areas to understand each terrorist group,' he says.
Group differences\ ``Terrorists may seem to work the same way worldwide, but they all have different methods. We break them down by culture, then by country and then by group. The terrorists operating now in Iraq, who believe in the jihad, the holy war, have a completely different mentality from the Shining Path in Peru. You have to know what you're dealing with.'
Iraq has long been a leader in terrorism, CTU experts say.
``Basically, they have no respect for human life at all - not even their own,' Paniagua says. ``They're motivated by religious fanaticism and consider it an honor to give their lives for Allah. A Latin American terrorist would never blow himself up.'
One way to prevent a terrorist attack is making yourself a tougher target.
``There's an old saying, 'Why bother with a lion when there are so many sheep?' We teach executives to be lions,' Feeney says.
``Most people go around with blinders on. We teach them to be aware of their surroundings, to notice things out of the ordinary,' she says
CTU simulates terrorist surveillance and challenges the client to determine who's following him during the course of a two- or three- hour excursion.
They teach not only the executives, but their spouses, Feeney says. ``Often, they're in a better position to notice things out of the ordinary.'
The 1981 kidnapping of U.S. Brig. Gen. James L. Dozier is a good illustration, Feeney says. Four Red Brigade terrorists posing as plumbers kidnapped Dozier at his Verona home. He was rescued unharmed 42 days later by Italian anti-terrorist forces.
Dozier's wife had noticed that her garbage was always empty while her neighbor's was always full; that the meter man came not once, but twice during the month; that the picnickers across the street never seemed to have any food. But she never put the clues together.
``If she had known to connect these things, she could have had General Dozier alert security to question these people,' Feeney says. ``If they're approached, they'll back off.'
Travel warnings\ The CTU staff believes the threat of terrorism from Iraq is relatively small within the continental United States. It's easier and less expensive to hit American targets overseas, particularly in Europe.
As long as the war is in progress, CTU advises against traveling anywhere outside of the United States, Mexico and U.S. territories such as the Virgin Islands.
The war with Iraq has temporarily raised fears, but most people are unaware that terrorism is a serious ongoing problem worldwide, Paniagua says.
``Three major executives of American companies have been assassinated in the last three months in Latin and South America,' Paniagua says, ``and you don't hear anything about it. Our attention span is limited to the war.'
And once the Gulf War ends, Feeney says, people will forget about terrorism again - until the next attack.
``We are a remote-control generation,' Feeney says. ``As soon as we switch away from it, it doesn't exist anymore.'
SAFETY TIPS FOR TRAVELING:
The staff of Corporate Training Unlimited offers these tips for traveling safely abroad:
Never leave your bags unattended and never pick up an unattended bag. Report it to a security guard. Don't carry a bag for a stranger.
Reserve a window seat on the airplane. People in aisle seats are most likely to be grabbed in the event of a hijacking.
Don't travel first-class. It marks you as someone important or wealthy. And don't travel alone.
Check in at the American embassy or consulate when you arrive in any foreign country. Simply tell them your name and where you're staying. It will help authorities trace you more quickly if you disappear.
Learn about the culture, customs, weather and political situation of a country before you arrive.
Don't wear school shirts or other pieces of clothing that identify you as an American.
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