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Entries in Security (16)

Friday
Jan112013

McDonald’s Installing Spray-Dousing Security Systems

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- Thieves Down Under might get a little something extra the next time they rob a McDonald’s.

In an effort to crack down on robberies at McDonald’s in Sydney, the company has hired SelectaDNA, a British security firm, to install a system that sprays a solution on would-be thieves on their way out the door of the fast-food outlets that can later be used to identify the culprits.

A handful of McDonald’s locations have been hit in the past few weeks by thieves who snatch more than just a Big Mac. Now the company hopes the newly installed systems will deter robbers from stealing from the Golden Arches.

“A spokesperson for McDonald’s said the company will increase the use of SelectaDNA in stores all over the country after a successful trial in their six busiest Sydney restaurants was launched in January last year,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported. "The move comes as police ramp up their patrols of local McDonald’s restaurants after a spate of robberies across Sydney during the Christmas and New Year period.”

The Intruder Spray solution was introduced in 2008 and “contains a UV tracer and a unique DNA code, linking them irrefutably to the crime scene,” according to SelectaDNA’s website.

Once triggered by a thief, the spray will fall onto intruders as they enter a business or home.  It can be synced to a panic-button or to any alarm system within a business or home. The solution is both harmless and too small to be seen but will stay on an intruder for weeks, “clinging to fibers and sitting in the creases of the skin,” according to the website.

With the installation of this high-technology security system, SelectaDNA says it will cut theft and burglaries significantly.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Documents Back Up Claims of Requests for Greater Security in Benghazi

STR/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have released new documents backing up claims by security personnel previously stationed in Libya that there was a shortage of security personnel in Benghazi.

The documents contain previously unreleased cables from Ambassador Stevens and his staff reflecting concerns about safety in the country.

The U.S. State Department did not have an immediate comment.

One signed by Stevens and titled “LIBYA’S FRAGILE SECURITY DETERIORIATES AS TRIBAL RIVALRIES, POWER PLAYS AND EXTREMISM INTENSIFY,” dated June 25, 2012, assess the increase in violence. "From April to June, Libya also witnesses an increase in attacks targeting international organizations and foreign interests,” Stevens wrote, describing attacks on a United Nations official in Benghazi, International Committee for the Red Cross buildings in Benghazi and Misrata, and IED at the mission in Benghazi, and RPGs fired at the British Ambassador’s convoy, and an attack on the consulate of Tunisia.

A Libyan government national security official told Stevens “that the attacks were the work of extremists who are opposed to western influence in Libya. A number of local contacts agreed, noting that Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya and that the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities in Derna,” a village to the east in Benghazi. Other contacts disagreed with that assessment, however.

Another cable from Stevens, titled “The Guns of August; security in eastern Libya” and dated Aug. 8, 2012, states, “Since the eve of the (July) elections, Benghazi has moved from trepidation to euphoria and back as a series of violent incidents has dominated the political landscape during the Ramadan holiday.” Stevens describes the incidents as “organized, but this is not an organized campaign.” The Supreme Security Council, the interim security force, he says, “has not coalesced into a stabilizing force and provides little deterrence.”

Stevens wrote that the people of Benghazi want a security apparatus but “inherently fear abuse by the same authorities. This debate, playing out daily in Benghazi, has created the security vacuum that a diverse group of independent actors are exploiting for their own purposes.”

A cable signed by Stevens on the day of his murder, Sept. 11, described a meeting with the Acting Principal Officer of the Supreme Security Council in Benghazi, commander Fawzi Younis, who “expressed growing frustration with police and security forces (who were too weak to keep the country secure)…”

The documents also included an “ACTION MEMO” for Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy dated Dec. 27, 2011, and written by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. With the subject line: “Future of Operations in Benghazi, Libya,” the memo states: “With the full complement of five Special Agents, our permanent presence would include eight U.S. direct hire employees.”

This would seem to suggest that Undersecretary Kennedy had approved a plan for five permanent security agents in Benghazi, but that never happened. It should be noted that there were ultimately a total of five Diplomatic Security Agents in Benghazi that night since there were two stationed at the Benghazi compound, and three escorted Ambassador Chris Stevens to the compound.

In a letter to President Obama, House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chair of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, note the Obama administration response that “two extra DS agents would have made no difference. This misses the point. These agents would have provided the added cover to fully evacuate all personnel from the compound -- not just those who survived.”

One of the key conversations in the documents begins on Feb. 11, at 5:29 pm, when Shawn Crowley, a foreign service officer at the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, writes: “Apologies for being a broken record, but beginning tomorrow Benghazi will be down to two agents…We have no drivers and new local guard contract employees have no experience driving armored vehicles…”

On Feb. 11, 1:13 pm, Regional Security Officer of the Libyan Embassy Eric Nordstrom emails State Department officials, cc-ing then-Ambassador Gene Cretz, saying he’ll try to send personnel from the Security Support Team to Benghazi. “I’ll speak with our SST personnel to see if they can free up 1 or 2 bodies for Benghazi….While the status of Benghazi remains undefined, DS” -- Diplomatic Security -- “is hesitant to devout [sic] resources and as I indicated previously, this has severely hampered operations in Benghazi. That often means that DS agents are there guarding a compound with 2 other DOS personnel present. That often means that outreach and reporting is non-existent.” Meanwhile, security on the ground became increasingly precarious.

The committee also released some photographs of the Benghazi compound, before and after the attack.

Issa and Chaffetz say they’ve “been told repeatedly” that the Obama administration not only “repeatedly reject(ed) requests for increased security despite escalating violence, but it also systematically decreased existing security to dangerous and ineffective levels,” and did so “to effectuate a policy of ‘normalization’ in Libya after the conclusion of its civil war.”

This “normalization,” the GOP congressmen write, “appeared to have been aimed at conveying the impression that the situation in Libya was getting better, not worse. The administration’s decision to normalize was the basis for systematically withdrawing security personnel and equipment -- including a much-needed DC-3 aircraft -- without taking into account the reality on the ground. In an interview with Mr. Nordstrom, he maintained that the State Department routinely made decisions about security in early 2012 without first consulting him.” The congressmen submit ten questions for the president to answer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

US Embassy Security Staffer Murdered in Yemen

STR/AFP/GettyImages(SANAA, Yemen) -- A U.S. embassy security team leader from Yemen was reportedly gunned down on his way to work Thursday in the Yemeni capital.

Qassem Aqlan, who headed a team tasked with protecting the American compound in the unstable nation, was killed by an unidentified gunman in Sanaa.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident involving a Yemeni employee of our embassy in Sanaa and we are working with Yemeni authorities,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

Aqlan’s death comes a month after four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

In a dramatic Congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials faced tough questions about whether it had failed to respond to concerns about the security of its staff in Libya, an obviously violent nation, before the attack.

U.S. officials have said the Benghazi attack may be linked to Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group with ties to the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Though no groups have claimed responsibility for the murder in Yemen, officials there say the attack is characteristic of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), BBC News reports.

In recent years, top U.S. officials have said regional affiliates of the terrorist group, especially AQAP and AQIM, pose a greater threat to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad than the “core” al Qaeda group that was led by Osama bin Laden before his death last May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Libyan Security Officer Claims State Dept. Wanted to Reduce US Security Presence

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Eric Nordstrom, the former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, told congressional investigators looking into the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, that the State Department was eager for the American diplomatic presence in Libya to reduce its American security footprint and to rely more on locals, sources tell ABC News. A senior State Department official denies the charge.

In an email from Nordstrom from earlier this month obtained by ABC News, the former Regional Security Officer referred to a list of 230 security incidents in Libya that took place between June 2011 and July 2012, writing that “(t)hese incidents paint a clear picture that the environment in Libya was fragile at best and could degrade quickly. Certainly, not an environment where post should be directed to ‘normalize’ operations and reduce security resources in accordance with an artificial time table.”

The list -- which you can read here -- concludes that the “risk of U.S. Mission personnel, private U.S. citizens, and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH. The Government of Libya does not yet have the ability to effectively respond to and manage the rising criminal and militia related violence, which could result in an isolating event.” It continues: “Local officials remain concerned with the chaos and radicalization that could result from protracted civil conflict in Libya. Neighboring countries fear extremist groups who could take advantage of the political violence and chaos should Libya become a failed state.”

In addition, Nordstrom has told investigators, they say, that State Department Deputy Assistant Director for International Programs Charlene Lamb told him she didn’t want to see the Embassy request another extension of the Security Support Team, the 16-member group of special operations soldiers who left the country in August. On Monday, ABC News reported that the commander of that group, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, wanted to stay in Libya, and that according to Wood, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens -- one of the four Americans killed -- wanted him to stay as well.

The State Department has noted that no Regional Security Officer ever requested for the SST to stay past August, and that there was no net loss of American security personnel after the SST left. A senior State Department official says that Lamb denies ever conveying such a message to Nordstrom.

Nordstrom in the Oct. 1, 2012, email, obtained by ABC News, wrote that the “number of incidents that targeted diplomatic missions and underscored the GoL’s ” -- Government of Libya’s -- “inability to secure and protect diplomatic missions. This was a significant part of Post’s and my argument for maintaining continued DS and DOD” -- Diplomatic Security and Department of Defense -- “security assets into Sept/Oct 2012; the GoL was overwhelmed and could not guarantee our protection. Sadly, that point was reaffirmed on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi.”

House Republicans say that U.S. State Department officials were pushing diplomats in Libya to lessen their security and that these documents buttress that argument. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold hearings on the matter Wednesday.

“There was a clear disconnect between what security officials on the ground felt they needed and what officials in Washington would approve,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement. “Reports that senior State Department officials told security personnel in Libya to not even make certain security requests are especially troubling. Many American diplomats still serve in dangerous areas and it is important for the Committee to determine if the State Department is taking appropriate steps to address systemic deficiencies.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct032012

First Witnesses Called for House Hearings on Benghazi

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call two witnesses for its Oct. 10 hearings on what went wrong at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Per the committee, they are:

-- “Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom was stationed in Libya from September 2011 to June 2012."

The Department of State provided Mr. Nordstrom to the Committee for a briefing, where he confirmed for the Committee the security incidents cited in the letter, and confirmed that the mission in Libya made security requests.

-- “Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene Lamb is an official in Washington is involved in reviewing security requests.”

In the committee’s letter to Clinton, chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., writes that the “hearing will examine the state of security at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Libya prior to the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his colleagues on September 11, 2012. Witnesses should be prepared to provide a five-minute opening statement and answer questions posed by Members.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Amb. Stevens Cautioned Ex-Military Officer Against Libya Travel

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A short time before his death, Ambassador Chris Stevens warned a retired senior American military officer against traveling to Libya due to security concerns, the officer told ABC News.

The officer said he had planned to go on a business trip to Tripoli in early October and, in late August, had asked through official channels if it was safe.

Through a diplomatic attache, Stevens said he didn’t think it was a good idea because of the “potential of increased risk to foreigners as militias and clans jockeyed for position” as the country rebuilds itself from a civil war that deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi and left the nation awash in weapons. Stevens’ advice was heeded and the trip was canceled.

Stevens was killed along with State Department computer expert Sean Smith and former U.S. Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods in a brazen attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Following the attack, questions arose about the security of the diplomatic mission in such a turbulent country, and Tuesday, Republicans in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alleging U.S. officials in Libya had made “repeated requests” for increased security in Benghazi, only to be denied by Washington.

In a response letter, Clinton said an Accountability Review Board (ARB) had been set up to determine “whether our security systems and procedures in Benghazi were adequate, whether those systems and procedures were properly implemented, and any lessons that may be relevant to our work around the world.”

“I … would encourage you to withhold any final conclusions about the Benghazi attack until the committee can review the ARB’s findings,” she wrote.

The Obama administration has also come under fire from Republicans for initially saying the assault was the result of a protest that was “hijacked” by violent actors, rather than a full-on “terrorist attack,” as White House spokesperson Jay Carney called it a week later.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Tuesday that special operations forces and the CIA are in the process of gathering information on suspects believed to be involved in the attack for kill or capture missions in the event they get the order from the White House. President Obama has said repeatedly that those responsible will “brought to justice.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep202012

Libya Attack: Five Guards Protected Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Five guards from the State Department were protecting U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens when he was killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week, according to a top congressional Democrat briefed on the matter.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking member on the House Armed Services committee, dismissed concerns that Stevens did not have adequate security when he was killed, but he added that there was no actionable intelligence to suggest that a terrorist attack was imminent.

“The ambassador had five security guards with him,” Smith disclosed. “He had security guards around him when they came under fire, the building itself caught on fire. He was with his other aide and one other security guy and in the fire they got separated.”

Until now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama and other U.S. officials had refused to comment on the precautions taken to protect Stevens.

“We obviously never talk publicly about security at any of our missions for obvious reasons,” Clinton said Tuesday. “But that said, let me assure you that our security in Benghazi included a unit of host government security forces, as well as a local guard force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world. In addition to the security outside the compound, we relied on a wall and a robust security presence inside the compound.”

But following a classified briefing Thursday afternoon with Clinton, members of Congress seemed to contradict each other on many details emerging from a preliminary investigation into the attack.

Smith said that the investigation is still ongoing and so far inconclusive, but based on discussions he’s had about the attack, “it seems like it was obviously some element of pre-planning, but how far in advance, that’s hard to say and they didn’t really speculate on that.”

“Personally it seems like it was not something that simply happened spontaneous, but it wasn’t that well-planned,” Smith added. “One point that was made is that they didn’t bring up mortars until like six or seven hours into the fight, so it seems like an armed gang that seized an opportunity with at least some prior thought.”

Members of Congress seemed to disagree whether there was a demonstration at the consulate that preceded the attack. Smith’s Republican counterpart at the Armed Services committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the committee, said he believes the attack was not spontaneous and was planned ahead of time.

“They’re now saying that there was not a demonstration,” McKeon, R-Calif., said. “That story has been walked away from now. The first story was there was a demonstration and that grew into an attack. I think the story now is that there was not a demonstration. That this was a preplanned attack.”

Still, McKeon said he did not believe that Stevens had adequate protection, telling reporters that the consulate “really wasn’t prepared for what hit them,” and he questioned why the State Department had any personnel, including the ambassador, there.

“It’s pretty obvious he did not have adequate security. Otherwise he would probably be here today,” he said. “I’m really disappointed about that. I think when we put our people around the world at risk and don’t provide adequate security, shame on us.”

McKeon also told reporters that “there is information out there that there was a former detainee that was released from Guantanamo that may have been involved in the attack.”

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee, said at this time the connection to the former detainee, Ben Qhuru, has not been established.

“There’s been a lot of speculation on what has occurred,” Ruppersberger warned. “We’ve got our best investigators on the ground working together with our intelligence community to find out the exact facts.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep182012

Sec. Clinton Says No ‘Actionable Intelligence’ on Benghazi Attack

State Dept(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Tuesday the intelligence surrounding the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not indicate that the consulate was under a specific threat before it was attacked last week.

“With all of our missions overseas in advance of Sept. 11, as is done every year, we did an evaluation of threat streams,” said Clinton. "The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we have no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”

Clinton’s comments echo what United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said on ABC’s This Week, where she said all indications were that extremists “hijacked” a “spontaneous” protest.

The secretary said that the attacks are the work of extremists taking advantage of the widespread outrage over the anti-Muslim video being widely circulated on the Internet.

“There are extremists in all of these this societies and on the outside who are working to take advantage of broad outrage in order to incite violence and specifically incite violence against Americans and American facilities,” she said.

Since the attack, which lasted nearly five hours and resulted in the deaths of four diplomats, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, questions have emerged about the security for both the consulate and the ambassador.  Clinton gave further details about the measures taken, including a “robust” security presence inside the compound, which was surrounded by a wall.

“Let me assure our security in Benghazi included a unit of host government forces, as well as a local guard force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world,” Clinton told reporters.   

Last Friday, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically told reporters that none of the security provided at the Benghazi consulate were provided by a private security firm.

“All of the security in Libya has been done by Libyans, by American government personnel, and then to a very limited extent these individual contracts with individual security personnel, but there was never a contract with a company, and there was never a plan to have a contract with a company,” she said.

But Tuesday, Nuland corrected her original statement, telling reporters that in fact the State Department did hire a private security company, a British firm called the Blue Mountain Group, which Nuland said has a permit to operate within Libya to hire local security guards.

“They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars, that kind of thing,” said Nuland.

Blue Mountain says on its website that it provides both security and training and has recently operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other dangerous places for clients ranging from Google to Cadburys.

Wired reported that the company signed a six-figure contract with the State Department to protect the consulate four months ago. Nuland said that the company remains on contract, “pending a full assessment of the security situation.”

Clinton didn’t speak specifically to where the guards protecting the consulate in Benghazi were from but did say the State Department is now taking aggressive steps to protect its employees, consulates and embassies around the world, and is reviewing security at every post.

Clinton also confirmed that the FBI is now in Libya, working with local officials on the investigation and stressed that there will be justice for the four murdered diplomats.

“We will not rest until the people who orchestrated this attack are found and punished,” the secretary said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

US Intelligence Sets Up Threat Integration Center as Olympics Get Underway

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence agencies have established a threat integration center with British Security officials to analyze threat information as the London Olympics get underway.
 
"For the past two years, NCTC, in coordination with our intelligence community and British partners, has been leading the U.S. effort to make sure that we are collecting and analyzing and sharing all potential threat information relating to the Olympics and that we are in a position to respond quickly to prevent any possible plotting tied to the games," Matthew Olsen Director of the NCTC testified Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Committee.
 
"In particular, NCTC, with our intelligence community partners, established a Threat Integration Center, designed to operate around the clock providing real-time situational awareness and threat analysis," Olsen said in his prepared testimony.
 
The threat analysis center will be staffed by officials from the CIA, NCTC and FBI as well as other U.S. intelligence services to review threat information and quickly share it with British security officials from Scotland Yard, MI-5, and MI-6.
 
According to officials the threat integration center which is housed at the U.S. Embassy in London became fully operational on Wednesday. Spokespeople from the CIA and FBI declined to specifically address how many employees and agents they have in the United Kingdom assisting with the Olympic security effort but two sources said the FBI had a contingent of about 50 employees and agents working in the United Kingdom.
 
"And we are, as part of our routine and ongoing and longstanding coordination with our close ally, we'll have some liaison personnel that will be in country during the Olympic Games.  They won't directly be providing security.  That's what the UK authorities will be doing.  But they'll be providing some routine liaison capability," Patrick Ventrell said at a July 17 State Department Briefing.
 
Along with the contingent of U.S. intelligence officials looking for terrorist threat information there will also be a contingent of security officers from Diplomatic Security and The U.S. Secret Service on hand to guard athletes and dignitaries as the games get underway.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Boy, 11, Flies to Rome With No Ticket or Family

Bryan Mullennix/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Authorities are investigating how a solo 11-year-old boy boarded a plane from Manchester, U.K., and arrived in Rome, Italy, with no money or documentation.

The Jet2.com flight departed the Manchester airport Tuesday with the boy onboard. He went through five security checkpoints undetected, an airport spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News. Despite having no boarding pass at security, no boarding pass at the gate, no passport and no boarding pass stub once on the plane, airport workers failed to notice the boy was on his own. Even a headcount onboard the flight failed to detect the child.

Jet2.com is a low-cost U.K. airline that flies to 53 destinations in Eastern and Western Europe.

Staffers have been suspended, pending an investigation.

The Guardian newspaper reports the boy ran away from his mother on Tuesday while she was shopping close to the airport. He apparently made his way to the airport on foot. Once there, he followed another family through the checkpoints and onto the plane.

On the way to Italy, passengers alerted airline crew to the boy. The captain then notified police at Manchester airport, who alerted the boy's mother that he had been found. The boy's mother had reported him missing.

The boy stayed onboard the aircraft once it landed in Rome, according to the newspaper. The other passengers deplaned while the boy was questioned. He remained on the flight, which returned to Manchester, where he was reunited with his mother.

John Greenway, a spokesman for Manchester airport, told the newspaper: "We know that people are not very happy about it. The investigation will look at how this has happened. Jet2 will be looking at how this boy got on that aircraft."

"He's evaded checks. He did go through the metal detector and didn't sound any alarms. He wasn't a danger to any of the passengers," he continued.

The breech shines a light on potential cracks in security as the 2012 Olympics in London kicks off later this week. Earlier this month, Britain's The Observer published a report quoting border officials as saying known terror suspects had slipped through airport security at London's Heathrow international airport.

Government officials told ABC News that report was not accurate, but said an independent auditor had claimed there are many new, hastily trained guards at the airport who sometimes do not question travelers as diligently as they should.

On Tuesday, British officials called up an additional 1,200 soldiers today to try and fix what they called a security "fiasco" with G4S, the private security firm tasked to secure the 2012 Olympic Games, but British security officials tell ABC News even though they are finally getting the number of guards they need, they are still not confident in the training that G4S guards received or the security they can provide.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio