Purpose: To provide the reader with basic knowledge about terrorism and its influence on modern close protection/bodyguard operations. 

Content: Text and images about the subject.

Contributors: Henrik Bramsborg (DK)

Henrik Bramsborg

Henrik Bramsborg (DK) is a professional bodyguard operating out of Northern Europe. Henrik Bramsborg works as a security professional and is also an author of several books. 

Craig Pedersen

Craig Pedersen (SA) is a security consultant and author of books about close protection operations. Craig Pedersen has many years of frontline experience. 




1. an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.


2. of or pertaining to activism or activists: an activist organization for environmental concern.

3. advocating or opposing a cause or issue vigorously, especially a political cause: Activist opponents of the President picketed the White House.

Activists are not necessarily a problem to anyone, but their direct opponents. Bodyguards need nonetheless relate to activists and especially violent ones, when planning routes and events. A quite non-violent well organized demonstration can turn rogue in a matter of minutes.

Even if your client is not a target of said group’s activities, you can end up fighting off a mob, just for being at the wrong curb at the wrong time.

Defining their nature we can categorize activists in a few main segments.

  • Political activists, depending on orientation historically the segment utilizing most violence.
  • Religious activists, Today they pose a great threat as they can harness future religious terrorists by the numbers.
  • Environmental/animal activists, usually non-violent and rarely develop into terrorists.
  • Sports (hooligans), small groups of streetfighting maniacs that can ransack a whole city in an hour
  • (I was working in downtown Copenhagen during Arsenal/Galatasaray in 2000 and had 3 fights with hooligans during that day)

There are several subcategories, depending on source, but the theory behind each of these will keep you occupied, if you feel like studying.

Known violent activist groups.

Autonomous leftwing activists.

An international phenomenon, autonomy is actually a modern derivate of a Marxist mindset. It was a group of autonomist’ that killed archduke Ferdinand and set off world war 1. The top goal for autonomous groups is to overthrow any and all government, to secure the freedom of man. 

The groups are usually relatively small and scattered all over the world, but unite when there’s a planned demonstration in one country. Some groups are highly political, whilst others basically just are in it for the fight and a sense of belonging. Even though religion bares no acknowledgement among the autonomous, some still use this in their propaganda:

“In my opinion, Jesus Christ is a great model of an anti-authoritarian figure. In fact he was executed by two states simultaneously — the Roman occupiers and the Jewish civil authorities — which I think should at least get him an honorable mention in anarchist circles. The Resurrection has been called the greatest act of civil disobedience in history. Once you’ve been executed by the state, you’re supposed to stay dead”- Unknown Anarchist.

Given the purpose of autonomy, the idealism to “set man free from authority” contradicts somewhat with having the most leading authoritative figure pose as front figure for autonomy, but nonetheless, it’s strong recruitment propaganda.

There have been several autonomous demonstrations ending in uncontrolled violence, throughout the years. Especially the last 20 years has been violent.

Violent methods:

  • Throwing bricks/stones
  • Molotov cocktails
  • Heavy slingshots and on rare historical occasions firearms and bombs. 

ALF – Animal Liberation Front.

Though ALF claims to be a non-violent organization, they have some issues. As they invite people to create their own ALF groups and to free animals in their name around the world, there’s no control of members.

On several occasions they’ve had people commit acts of violence in their name, and not done anything to excuse or rectify the actions. As a real threat I consider them to be in the minor category, but as a threat to any of my clients’ reputation and mental wellbeing, they are a nuisance. 

The attacks are usually conducted as a “Free Willy” operation, at night. They sneak in somewhere (in most states that’s felony 1+2) and “liberate” animals. This means opening cages with animals, which normally are kept, fed and watered for breeding or slaughtering. These animals have no chance in a free environment, as they are born and raised in captivity. Ethics set aside, it’s a criminal act and on several instances, activists has been spotted, but fought their way out, by attacking farmers or helpers.

On rare extreme cases, they’ve been seen throwing oil or paint on people wearing fur coats.

During demonstrations in United States in the 1990's ALF were reported having used signs, poles and stones to attack people and property.

Violent Methods:

  • Throwing different fluids like oil, paint and even excrement on people and property.
  • On rare occasions use of lethal force by attacking farmers to avoid captivity.
  • Throwing Molotov cocktails at cars and property.


Hooliganism is an old “sport”. It dates back to 1880 or there about and has always been a very violent activity. Hooligans usually attack their rightful counterpart in any football match, but in streetfighting there are no rules and getting caught in such a mess (the “firms” can consist of several 100 people), can be extremely dangerous.

A hooligan has 2 main objectives:

A.     to fight other “firms” and

B.     to support their football/soccer team.

In that order. Some British hooligans have a political agenda, usually rightwing orientated. This basically means that they are racists.

Some of the most violent hooligan firms have several hundred members, is organized as a company (hence the reference) and usually plan and effectuate fights with other firms, right before or after a football match. However, they can also plan attacks/fights in the stadia where the football matches are held.

Violent methods:

  • Use of hand-to-hand combat
  • Blunt weapons, knifes, swords and machetes 
  • Throwing odd items and on rare occasions, use of firearms.

Again, research is what makes your clients day. If you, despite proper preparation, somehow manages to be caught inside a peaceful demonstration one day, look out for people wearing facemasks, scarfs to hide their face, bulky jackets or bags and people shouting higher and higher. If any of these signs occur, get the hell out of dodge (or any other city for that matter)..

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