Veterans of Israeli special operations units have found lucrative careers
helping Hollywood stars fend off stalkers and paparazzi.
While this service may not have necessitated counter-terrorism expertise, the ex-Israeli operative who carried out the mission, Aaron Cohen, has built a career on the premise that protecting celebrities has more in common with nabbing Islamic radicals than may be apparent. Cohen, 31, is the founder of IMS Security — short for “Israeli Military Specialists” — a Los Angeles-based private security firm operating in the hostile territory of Hollywoodland.
A native of Beverly Hills, Cohen has parlayed his service in Duvdevan — an elite Israeli commando unit responsible for capturing, and sometimes killing, Palestinian militants in the West Bank — into a lucrative, niche business back in his hometown. Hiring Israelis culled exclusively from the Jewish state’s top four special operations units, Cohen oversees the only private security firm specializing in bringing Israeli-style protection to the upper reaches of stardom. Guarding the likes of Brad Pitt, Jackie Chan and Eva Longoria, to name but a few, Cohen — with a minimum retainer fee in the range of $20,000 and a day’s work costing up to $1,000 — has applied the principles he learned detaining terrorists to keeping aggressive paparazzi and the occasional celebrity stalker at bay.
“Stalking is a form of terror,” Cohen explained in an interview in Los Angeles’s Fairfax district, sipping a cup of strong black coffee. “The formula is a lot like counter-terrorism, because you need to see who you’re dealing with before you freak out.”
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