KABUL, Afghanistan Security is dangerously lax at U.N. compounds, Baghran Air Base and other facilities, according to a U.S. Vietnam War veteran from the former CIA-backed Phoenix Program who now runs a professional security service.
“The enemy, in this case the Taliban, have certainly now mixed in and assimilated in with the local population,” John Muller, president of MPA Security Services, said in an interview.
“The U.S. has just recently dropped bombs on the town [Kabul] and there were some accidents of course, so there are probably some very frustrated natives out there that could do something.
“They could possibly be a threat to foreigners.”
Mr. Muller was shocked to discover a security threat on Thursday at Baghran Air Base, 42 miles north of Kabul, where U.S. and British forces are based.
“At Baghran Air Base, we found a Russian helicopter was flown by a local [Afghan] pilot from the new army and he was doing stunts next to parked cars and U.N. people.
“It turned out, in this instance, when he stepped out of the helicopter and people asked why he acted like that, he said, ‘I hate foreigners.’
“There are always idiots and misfits and people on substance abuse who don’t like our presence here,” said Mr. Muller, 52.
Asked if Taleban or al Qaeda fighters may have infiltrated Kabul to study the international community’s security, Mr. Muller replied: “Absolutely, absolutely.
“There are certainly people physically surveilling.
“If you don’t take your security seriously and take some precautions very, very sensible precautions it could flame up real quick.”
Mr. Muller has 33 years of security experience starting with the CIA-backed Phoenix Program in South Vietnam, which used Vietnamese to provide security for administrative staff and to identify Viet Cong sympathizers.
He stressed, however, a Phoenix-style strategy would not be advisable against the Taliban, al Qaeda or suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
“The problem with the Phoenix Program is sometimes it was abused. The locals would pinpoint people who were not agents and they settled family scores that way. So that’s not the perfect solution at all.”
Mr. Muller’s MPA Security Services is headquartered in Bangkok.
“We have over 3,000 guards there. We offer electronic security systems, VIP protection, countersurveillance protection and almost any kind of security services that you would want.”
In Kabul, “I notice at all installations that I’ve gone to, access was easy to gain. Very, very easy.”
He recommended electronic systems such as closed-circuit cameras, computer-locked access doors, alarms and motion sensors, plus color-coded identification cards, vehicle checks, searches and other basic security procedures.
“There is probably a market for maybe 300, 400 guards in this town serving the Red Cross, CARE, World Vision, all of the U.N. agencies, embassies that set up here and airlines airline security is one of our big ones,” he said.