Last September 13, the C5 of the CDMX received an anonymous report stating that an alleged arms dealer, known as "Neri", was planning to attempt an assassination attempt against the Head of Government of the CDMX, Claudia Sheinbaum, and that, once the act was consummated, he would try to communicate with a famous radio program in order to "gain notoriety". The authorities acted quickly and located the subject in question. It was noted that the situation did not represent any risk for the capital city's mayor. In view of these events, there are several questions to be asked: Was it just a bad joke? Was someone trying to play a trick on "Neri" by staging the whole show? Is it a closed case? Should all future similar anonymous complaints be dismissed?
In the meantime, and derived from the turbulence caused by the issue, such a situation leads to think that it is not only terrorists, criminals or drug cartels that can endanger the integrity and lives of senior officials. Individuals who are mentally unbalanced, but with sufficient capacity to plan and execute offensive actions, represent a serious danger to executives. This was learned, much to its regret, by the U.S. Secret Service on March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley seriously wounded then President Ronald Reagan in an unfortunate attempt to attract the attention of actress Jodie Foster, the object of Hinckley's obsession. Another individual with similar characteristics is Mark David Chapman, who unfortunately achieved his goal of becoming a tragic celebrity by assassinating legendary ex-Beatle musician John Lennon on December 8, 1980 in New York.
These types of people have become a serious concern for specialists in the protection of high-level officials in many countries because, unlike terrorist and criminal groups, they cannot be identified, infiltrated and intervened in a timely manner. In other words, they are individuals who act alone. The potential attacker can be any individual trying to approach the protégé from the crowd.
In search of solutions, the United States Secret Service, in 1997, published a study called "Exceptional Case Study Project", by R. A. Fein and B. Vossekuil. Vossekuil, which analyzes the life and behavior of people who attacked Secret Service protégés throughout its history. The study defines certain characteristics that may be useful to prevent this type of aggressions. In addition to this, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 pandemic has negative effects on the mental health of the population, so it is likely that this type of bullying will increase worldwide.
The case regarding the threat against the Head of Government appears to be closed. As already mentioned, the person named in the complaint was located and it was determined that he did not represent any risk. However, the behavior of the person who made the complaint is particularly noteworthy, since four characteristics presented in the Secret Service document as possible danger signs are recognizable in the way of thinking and in the actions he attributed to "Neri":
- The inappropriate interest in the capital city's president.
- Inclination and preference of the person in question for weapons.
- The person's desire to reach "fame" by means of an assassination, since, after the assassination, he wished to contact a "famous radio host".
- The person communicates to someone else his or her intention to commit an act of this nature.
Taking this into account, it is of utmost importance to keep the complainant located, who should undergo the evacuation process, as indicated in Fein and Vossekuil's document, in order to determine whether he/she represents a danger to the Head of Government or to any other public figure.
There is a basic rule in Executive Protection: every threat must be taken seriously. Therefore, the CDMX authorities are right to investigate this matter thoroughly, especially considering the three factors mentioned above and the increase in these types of risks to executives, stemming, to some extent, from the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic.
It is time to reinforce the security of our senior officials against these and other threats. Due to changes in society, executives now do not want to be seen with a large security detail so as not to affect their public image; however, modern Executive Protection does not involve surrounding oneself with "black suits and dark glasses", but rather in developing preventive and discreet activities that are capable of intervening threats, long before they are realized. All of this is explained and detailed at length in my book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.
This type of situation is one more reason to emphasize the need for the creation of a new institution specialized in the protection of senior executives, of a civilian nature, by the National Intelligence Center, which, based on values such as prevention and discretion, would know how to deal with these and many other dangers that are increasing in a modern society that is becoming more and more agitated.