• S.R.

Case study of the assassination of Haitian President

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Review takeaways from the recent, cold-blood murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, from our company's perspective backed by our first-hand experience in the country and long experience in the industry.


Jovenel Moise [53], a former Haitian head of state, ruled the country from 2017 until his assassination in 2021. Civilian unrest and calls for his resignation intensified a political crisis in 2021.

Many socio-political and economic problems beset Haiti. The crime rate is exceptionally high in the country. Police are corrupt and lack resources to fight criminals committing armed robberies, extortion, kidnappings, murders, and narco-trafficking. Haiti is among the poorest and most corrupted countries in the world. These present intractable security challenges for the government, which has resulted in the president's assassination [read more about Haiti travel advisory at the government of Canada website].

The assassination

The attack took place on Wednesday, July 7, leaving the president dead with a dozen bullet wounds and his wife injured. A group of over twenty hitmen broke into the president's mansion in Port-au-Prince in the early hours and assaulted him and his wife.

Over a dozen suspects were detained in the police raid; several were killed in a shootout in the capital; a dozen suspects are on the loose.

Among the arrested are mainly former Colombian soldiers (mercenaries) contracted to execute the president. It is still unknown who is behind the attack and why. But some influential people, Haitian Americans, are central figures in the assassination, accused of plotting against the late president to take power.

In the raid of a house that attackers used, police seized firearms, sets of US dollar bills, the president's itinerary, and surveillance camera footage from his home.


The assassination is a textbook case of the failure of close protection service. Many things went wrong, and here is the analysis.

Surveillance and counterintelligence

The president's security detail could have prevented the attack by applying counterintelligence measures in the first place. There must have been many pre-indicators of the assassination. Every criminal activity is preceded by offensive surveillance for intelligence gathering, enabling criminals to plot attacks and criminal acts. Attackers must conduct physical surveillance on the target to know the target's movement, schedule, and vulnerabilities.

Personal security detail should have applied anti-surveillance measures to evade hostile surveillance on the president and his home [target hardening] and make things more difficult for plotters to collect pre-attack intel. Using defensive surveillance techniques would not stop the attack but would mess up the attackers' plan [forcing them to make mistakes].

Conducting surveillance detection enables discovering the threat before it eventuates [proactivity]; following up surveillance detection with counter-surveillance activities [offensive covert surveillance] produces actionable and tactical intelligence on threat actors [numbers, location, resources, and plan], helping to counter the threat [discover, identify, track down, and arrest attackers].

Emergency response

There is a failure in the incident response in the event of the very attack. Strangely, the president and his family weren't evacuated by a close protection team to a safe room, which should be a standard operating procedure in emergencies. A panic room is usually installed in every high-end residence and equipped to withstand an attack and keep VIPs safe until help arrives [discover more about our VIP security services].

The counter-assault team (CAT) or quick reaction force (QRF) is an emergency response team (ERT) responsible for providing reinforcement; it should have been ready and on-site after the first indication of trouble. The CAT is fully equipped, fast-responsive, and trained to counter any attacks on Principals.

Contingency planning incorporates security and emergency procedures, including the employment of ERTs [CAT, hostage rescue, emergency evacuation], especially when it comes to high-risk protection, high-ranking and at-risk individuals, and hostile environments.

Residential security

High-end estates usually have electronic surveillance systems (CCTV) installed and residential security teams (RST) assigned. The RST should have identified the threat (attackers) approaching the property, notified the executive protection team to evacuate the president, and alerted the CAT team.

Residential security guards control access and safeguard premises, representing the outer layer of security [layered protection]. They are trained in asset protection, and the majority of them are close-protection trained to be more competent.

Final points

This tragic event is another example of poorly managed security services and inappropriate security measures that unfortunately have grave consequences for the Principal/VIP. Wisely choose who looks after you. Get in touch with Nemesis Protection Global at contact@nemesisprotection.com for a free consultation and quotation. Check out our close protection services in Haiti.

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