Ex-Royal Marine Angus Weston has been targeted by IRA terrorists, he has intimidated insurgents in Iraq and faced down pirates off the coast of Africa.
During his military career, he served in Northern Ireland during the peak of the troubles, fought in the Falklands War, and took part in major investigations into drugs smuggling and gun-running. After he left the army he worked as a close security officer, protecting engineers in the badlands of Iraq after the Gulf War.
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Now Stoke fan Angus is putting his expertise to good use – after co-writing a manual designed to help ordinary people protect themselves against the growing threat of terror attacks.
Angus, aged 61, a former pupil of Oakhill Junior School and Trentham High School, said: “We saw a documentary about the terror on the beach attack in Tunisia. All the people who survived all said, ‘I didn’t know what to do’.
“We would know what to do. So we decided to write a book. We’ve got 40 years of experience in the Marines and working in close security and we wanted to give something back, to tell people what to do in any number of dangerous situations.
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“There are some very simple and basic things that you can do to protect yourself.
“We are not going to eradicate terrorism overnight, it is going to take years. What people have got to do is think about what they would do in a crisis – you may need to put your survival in your own hands.
“With the change in tactics to ‘lone wolf’ attacks, that could happen anywhere, at any time.
Angus Weston, during his time with the Royal Marines
“The planning stage is very important. For example think about what you are going to do if your kids get separated in a crisis. They should go with someone they know, or find a family to stick with, get to a safe place.
“The reason the British Forces are the best in the world is because we plan ahead and we practice what we are going to do.”
The book, Protect Your Family Against Terrorism, written by Angus Weston and Pusser Traynor, provides advice on what to do in all manner of situations, from surviving an attack in an airport, to how to keep safe while walking around an unfamiliar town or city.
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Angus – a pseudonym he uses as an author to protect his family – recommends people think carefully about their surroundings, be aware of exits and entrances, and take time to think what would be the best course of actions. Basic common sense, such as listening for the sound of gunfire and walking or running away from that sound, could save your life.
He also warns people to avoid crowds in the aftermath of an attack – which could be targeted by a secondary explosive – to make sure you have a torch app on your phone, and that the phone is always fully charged.
A simple tip such as earing flat shoes, or carrying a doorstop to prevent an attacker getting into a room, could prove invaluable in an emergency.
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Angus left the Potteries at the age of 17 to join the army, in 1973. He spent 22 years with the Marines, serving during the Falklands War and in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles.
After leaving the army, he working in close security, protecting people in danger zones such as the Gulf.
He said: “The very first time I was shot at was in 1974 whilst on a mobile patrol in the Barcroft estate in Newry. I was sat at the back of an open air Land Rover. It was about midnight and as we took a corner, we heard a shot. A bullet hit the ground about a foot away. A sniper had miscalculated the speed we were doing and missed us.
An IRA memorial in Northern Ireland, where Angus was targeted by terrorists.
“In my close protection work, we were protecting engineers in Iraq who were there to rebuild the country went out to the oil fields in Iraq in some very dodgy places.
“I was lucky, I was never fired at. But I had a friend out there who was shot at 23 times. I like to think it was because of the drills we did. If you are a terrorist watching groups of people go past you are looking for the weakest link. I like to think that I showed I was not.”
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Angus also spent time guarding boats against pirates.
“The closest we came to firing our weapons was one time off the east coast of Africa in a big tanker ship,” he said.
“Coming towards us was a fishing vessel, with 20 fit looking guys inside looking at us, no sign of any fishing equipment. They ignored our attempts to tell them to stay away. In the distance we could see another fishing boat with the same number of guys on board.
“There were four of us. We were armed with AK-47s, we pulled them out and suddenly these guys in the fishing boat were all smiles and they backed off. They realised they were not going to attack us without taking a lot of damage.
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“The pirates are usually armed with AK-47s. They will fire on the bridge, then when the ship slows down, they board, then they will sell the ship back to its owners. Anyone on board, if they are lucky they will be sold back as well. If they are unlucky, they will be killed.”
Protect Your Family Against Terrorism, by Angus Weston and Pusser Traynor, is available on Amazon and Google.