US Ambassador feared Khan attack, requested more protection

Former US Ambassador Roland Bullen in 2006 strongly believed that his life was under threat by drug kingpin Roger Khan and the embassy wrote to Washington for further security assistance after one of Khan’s bodyguards was seen opposite a building where the ambassador was having a meeting.

In a March 30, 2006 secret cable from his Georgetown office Bullen wrote and requested further   security support from Washington to make his security detail stronger following the March 8, 2006 sighting of Khan’s bodyguard.

“On March 8, ARSO [Assistant Regional Security Officer] was providing protection for Ambassador who was in a meeting at the UNDP building, and observed a known bodyguard of Guyanese drug kingpin Shaheed “Roger” Khan across the street. RSO and ARSO are in agreement that this was not a coincidence. Khan has directed threats against the Ambassador in the past. Khan has deep roots in the security services in Guyana,” the ambassador wrote in the cable made public on the WikiLeaks website. Only a partial extract of the cable was available.

Roland Bullen

Bullen said he has requested support by the embassy security officer [RSO] to assist the local police bodyguards in escort portal-to-portal protection. However, he said that both he and the RSO firmly believed that the local bodyguards could not provide an adequate level of protection given the recent threat level towards him and the rising likelihood that political violence will only escalate until the election.

“The Ambassador feels that his protection may be further jeopardized when he will have to take political stances that may cause negative responses from either political party,” Bullen wrote about himself. He said that the stances may be interpreted in a negative manner and had the potential to create some form of retaliation directed against him.

“Further rumors suggest that the opposition party is planning a large-scale event directed towards the diplomatic community to disrupt the elections. Since the United States has the largest mission in Guyana, it can be assumed that the Ambassador will be a target… ,” Bullen had said.

Bullen said that since the ARSO was tasked with his protection, the programme had suffered and was not operating at an acceptable level, hence his request for additional security support.

According to Bullen several prominent Guyanese – including a former Commissioner of Police and head of the GDF – believed that the upsurge in crime at the time was driven by political motives.

Meanwhile, the RSO at the time felt that Bullen’s bodyguards’ performance level was not improving. “The bodyguards do not make efforts to correct their performance after receiving day-to-day instruction. RSO believes that changing the bodyguard will not resolve the constant errors of the detail being that the errors are cultural and not the lack of knowledge of protection etiquette,” the RSO said.

“Since my arrival to post in August 2003, there have been several threats made against me.  Several of these threats were deemed to be credible and necessitated a body-guard detail for all my in-country movements,” Bullen also reiterated.

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