The Most Dangerous Countries to Avoid in 2024

Plus: Hamas plot foiled & Putin plays coy

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Welcome to the 100th edition of On the Circuit, where we bring you crucial insights and analyses from the ever-evolving world of global security and strategy.

This week's top story focuses on the most dangerous countries to visit in 2024. We'll unpack the latest findings from International SOS, highlighting places to exercise caution due to political instability and environmental hazards. Invaluable insights for protectors of HNWs and high-risk operators alike.

Shifting gears, we head across to Germany, where a far-right plot to topple the government is being unpacked. Russian President Putin is in the headlines again amid ongoing negotiations involving American hostages.

Elsewhere, we’re considering the evolution of leadership skill sets in corporate security. It is a rich resource for professionals with a corporate security pathway in their career crosshairs.


World’s most dangerous countries to visit avoid in 2024

Has your principal started planning their 2024 travel itinerary? International SOS's latest risk map suggests some destinations for the bold... or the misguided. Either way, you may want to take a look before joining the planning sessions.

Unsurprisingly, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Somalia top the 'maybe-next-time' list, thanks to undesirable levels of conflict and instability. New for 2024, the travel advisory now includes climate threats because who doesn't want to vacation in a heatwave named Cerberus?

Countries are graded like a scary report card, from "low" to "very high" for medical and climate risks and "insignificant" to "extreme" for security. Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, for instance, are all getting F’s in the security category.

So, if you're hunting for gigs protecting war correspondents, you might want to take note, but for the average UHNW, it's a hard pass.


27 charged over far-right plot to topple German government

In Germany, prosecutors just charged a ragtag team of 27, including a self-styled prince and a far-right ex-lawmaker, with a plot to overthrow the government. Inspired by conspiracy theories like Reich Citizens and QAnon, they dreamt of a coup with Prince Heinrich XIII leading the new order.

However, their master plan was as well thought out as a snowball fight in the desert! After storming parliament, they planned to cozy up to Russia for support. It's like they combined a history lesson with a spy thriller and learned nothing from either. Much like the plot of this whole operation, the Russian response remains a mystery.

Amidst serious concerns over far-right extremism, this group's mix of ambition and absurdity makes you wonder whether this was an attempted coup or a comedy sketch.

This isn't just a quirky story of misguided revolutionaries; it's part of a troubling pattern of extremist threats in Germany, a reminder that even in modern democracies, the specter of radicalism lurks.

White House urges Israel to ease Gaza conflict intensity

Jake Sullivan, White House advisor, is nudging Israel, specifically Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to shift gears in the Gaza conflict. He's pushing for a softer approach, balancing Israel's anti-Hamas mission with a need to dial down the violence. 

The Biden administration, playing the role of the concerned friend, backs Israel's response to the Oct. 7 attack and their goal to show Hamas the exit door in Gaza. But behind the scenes, it's all about timelines and planning for this "low intensity" transition.

Meanwhile, the human cost is staggering: 1.9 million Palestinians displaced, over 18,000 killed, mostly women and children. The Biden administration is eyeing the post-war period, hoping a shift in tactics will keep U.S. support for Israel's military moves on the table.

Cross-border Hamas terrorism plot foiled

Four arrests across Germany and the Netherlands have been linked to a Hamas terror plot targeting Jewish institutions. Ringleader, Abdelhamid Al A, was reportedly following orders from Hamas leaders in Lebanon to locate a hidden arsenal of weapons. They had originally been intended for a day of terror in Berlin and were now being repurposed for this cross-border plot.

Meanwhile, three others in Denmark got caught in the net for similar offenses, with the Danish prime minister labeling the threat as "serious as it gets".

This plot emerges amid European counter-terror warnings linking the recent Gaza war to a potential rise in attacks. European officials, including Britain's MI5 chief, have been vocal about the heightened risk of terrorism during the holiday season, mainly fearing lone-wolf attacks rather than this kind of directed mission.

Russia in dialogue over jailed Americans release

In Moscow, President Putin has hinted at a "will they, won't they" scenario with the U.S. over jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Putin's playing it coy, suggesting there's dialogue but keeping his cards close to his chest. The U.S., on the other hand, seems to be at the negotiation table with a full deck of offers, which, so far, Russia has swiped left on.

Whelan's been in Russian custody since 2018 on disputed espionage charges, and journalist Gershkovich joined him in 2023 for being ‘excessively curious’. Analysts suggest Russia might be using these Americans as bargaining chips in a classic geopolitical move but, so far, they’ve stopped short of naming their price.

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🇫🇮 Finland:  Finland will sign a bilateral defense cooperation agreement with the United States, allowing the US to send troops and construct NATO infrastructure. 

🇰🇷 South Korea: Two Chinese and four Russian military aircraft entered South Korea's air defense identification zone, prompting South Korea to scramble fighter jets.

🇨🇬 Congo: The primary challenger to Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi's reelection, Moise Katumbi, suspends campaign following violence at rally.

🇾🇪 Yemen: Houthi rebels fired an anti-ship cruise missile at a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea

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Duty of Care for the Protector

Tune in to hear the evolution of leadership skillsets in corporate security.

In this episode, we delve into how leaders can develop and guide their teams, stressing the importance of soft skills, adaptability and taking care of staff in a dynamic threat environment.

Topics covered include:

  • The importance of leadership skills in corporate security.

  • The challenges in hiring for security roles and the importance of creating a Team Environment.

  • What legal frameworks does the leader have to consider regarding EHS?

  • How can the leader protect the organization whilst also protecting the protectors?


Israel Says Its Soldiers Killed Israeli Hostages as They Held Up White Flag

In a tragic incident in Gaza, three Israeli hostages were killed by Israeli forces. The hostages, Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka, and Alon Shamriz, emerged from a building in northern Gaza holding a white flag - symbolizing surrender or a plea for peace. They were shot by Israeli soldiers who, according to a senior Israeli military official, violated the military's rules of engagement.

The situation in Shujaiyeh, where this occurred, was described as one of intense combat and pressure, complicating the already volatile environment. The Israeli military is investigating the incident, particularly focusing on whether there was a connection to a nearby building marked with an SOS.

Efforts to negotiate the release of remaining hostages in Gaza continue, with talks involving Qatari and Israeli officials. However, significant obstacles, including internal disagreements within Hamas and the complex dynamics of the ongoing conflict, make the path to a resolution challenging.

As protectors invested in understanding and mitigating risks, the recent events in Gaza are profoundly distressing. While appreciating the highly charged environment in which this incident occurred, it raises critical questions about the rules of engagement and decision-making processes under extreme pressure.

Whether this event in isolation should prompt a reevaluation of hostage rescue operations is open to further debate. However, it does highlight the need for increased diplomatic efforts to resolve a political situation that seems to be spiralling out of control.

Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragic incident.


Q: What's Your Take on the Prince Harry Security Saga?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Safety First: Prince Deserves Full-Time State Security (48%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Should be Judged on a Case-by-Case Basis (14%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ Private Security is the only Option (38%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Other. Let us know your thoughts (0)

Your Feedback:
WL: Prince Harry was born into the British Royalty. It is not a status he chose. A successful attack on Prince Barry would be a major attack on the Crown itself. 

JC: Unless he is on official government business/duties. He doesn’t deserve full-time security by the government. 

RR: He’s an important public figure and a target. 


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Stay safe, and keep looking out for one another.

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