The Montreal multinational GardaWorld is one of the largest private security services companies in the world with 122,000 employees. Almost a thousand of them and perhaps more are (or were) in Afghanistan, mainly acting as security agents for foreign embassies, NGOs and international organizations.
I contacted GardaWorld media relations to find out which embassies and international organizations it was protecting, how many employees it had in the country and how many were Canadians.
The company replied by email, “GardaWorld continues to coordinate evacuation operations for various clients and security professionals. For reasons of confidentiality and security, we do not disclose more information on this subject. “
We understand his reluctance. According to The Guardian, most of GardaWorld’s 125 employees providing security for the British Embassy in Kabul were denied protection and travel assistance because they were not “directly employed by Her Majesty’s government”.
Oliver Westmacott, GardaWorld’s Middle East operations manager, told Guardian that the company was working around the clock with the Foreign Office to get all of its local staff out of Afghanistan. Other Afghan and foreign GardaWorld employees no doubt face similar situations. Some are lucky.
Over 100 GardaWorld employees, who were doing the same work for the American Embassy, received support from the United States and were evacuated.
The situation is all the more dire for GardaWorld employees in Afghanistan as the Taliban have clashed with company security guards in the past.
In November 2019, at least 12 people, including three children, were killed when a minibus full of explosives crashed into an SUV belonging to GardaWorld carrying foreign nationals to Kabul.
Also in 2019, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted the international complex Green Village, where GardaWorld offices are located.
After the explosion, the Taliban stormed the compound, killing around 30 people and injuring at least 100 others. GardaWorld staff members participated in his defense, as revealed in his February 14, 2019 Facebook post: GardaWorld would like to commend its security officers in Kabul, Afghanistan for their professionalism and diligence following a recent attack on the complex Green Village. Our team members helped clean up the resort, while protecting the staff under extremely difficult circumstances. They also helped a seriously injured client. You have shown great bravery, and we thank you!
GardaWorld operates a global analysis center called Crisis24, who keeps clients informed of situations and places that present threats and dangers. Here is today’s update (August 20, 2021) regarding terrorism in Afghanistan:
Fall of the Afghan government triggers a transition of the Taliban from being a non-state armed group to a governing entity, resulting in a significant reduction in the risk of terrorism, including the threat of sophisticated attacks using improvised explosive devices vehicle-borne (VBIED) and armed assaults against government and military targets throughout Afghanistan. However, significant resistance to the Taliban government from ethnic militias would increase the risk of improvised explosive device attacks against Taliban assets in northern Afghanistan. In addition, ISIS is likely to continue carrying out improvised explosive device attacks and ground assaults against domestic and foreign targets under the Taliban government.
Analysis could not be more relevant.