“In all honesty, I don’t know a thing about terrorism,” the heavyset man confesses. “What I do know about is defense mechanisms that relate to transportation.” Why does he think he attracts the following that he does—without advertisement or solicitation outside the close-knit security industry? “I’ll tell you something,” he says, draping a large conspiratorial arm across this reporter’s shoulder. “I don’t ever want to know what motivates them to come to me because I don’t want to be accused of playing on anyone’s fears. Figure it out for yourself. I think it would be difficult to find a major corporation that has not been threatened.”
But pandering to fear and self-importance is the very accusation that weighs most heavily against the industry. In preparation for stepping behind the wheel, Scotti’s students read the Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerilla. Written in 1969 by Carlos Marighella and used as a training manual for Brazil’s ALN (National Liberation Action) the Mini-Manual is the most famous document to emerge from that country’s resistance movement. “It’s the bible of the terrorist. They all read it,” Scotti tells his students somewhat simplistically. In truth, copies of Marighella’s text have been found in a number of terrorist hideouts, but the document offers little more than the most elementary tips to prospective kidnappers, e.g., know the terrain, surprise the victim, know his habits, etc. “The guy who wrote this ended up dead himself,” says Scotti, referring to the police ambush of Marighella months after the Mini-Manual was first circulated. The tone of Scotti’s voice betrays the message that is implicit throughout: those who live by the gun will die by the gun. Surprisingly, none of the bodyguards in the class will admit to carrying a gun. Other suggested reading materials include Counterforce, the “Monthly Newsmagazine of Terrorism,” a slick exclusive-circulation compendium of news on terrorism published in El Paso, Texas, by a group that includes a former Washington correspondent for the Dallas Times-Herald, a former Houston bureau chief for Newsweek who had experience with kidnapping in Addis Ababa, and the former bodyguard for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Also recommended is Countering Terrorism, “Security Suggestions for US Business Representatives Abroad,” a State Department pamphlet whose cover is decorated with splattered blood.
On the morning we arrive, Scotti is lecturing in the small, wooden, racetrack box office that serves as his classroom. The walls are plastered with posters advertising tractor pulls, auto races, and Joie Chitwood “Thrill Shows.” In the center of the room beside a small portable blackboard sits Scotti. His “chalk-talk” begins at 10 am. Earlier in the week, his four students—a chauffeur, two chauffeur/bodyguards and one mailroom clerk whose promotion to executive chauffeur is contingent on his performance in the class—have been tutored in the basics of high-speed driving, night driving, road analysis, cornering at speed, and the handling characteristics of armored vehicles. Although the students are eager to get on with the strategic-driving phase of the day’s lesson (bootleggers, J-turns, off-road recoveries), Scotti is intent on emphasizing the value of “route planning,” the practice of constantly altering the path between home and office to avoid becoming predictable. Although Scotti says he eschews sensationalism in a field fraught with it, the example he chooses to make his point is hardly subtle. “They estimate that Aldo Moro was under surveillance in Italy for 35 to 40 days. His driver changed his route daily. But no matter which route he took, he would arrive at church at precisely 7:45 every morning. The same time every day,” Scotti emphasizes, shaking his head at the simplicity of the error. “It proves one thing. You can be religious; just don’t do it on time.” The students, one from an international farm machinery company based in Chicago, two from a New York-based oil corporation, and one with an undisclosed affiliation in Chicago, snicker in chorus.