Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lindt cafe siege (Sydney, Australia) inquest report released

The coroner's report was released a few hours ago. It is over 600 pages and very in-deoth, including numerous reflections, opinions, and recommendations regarding the crisis hostage negotiation team's actions.

Among MANY takeaways, this is just one recommendation worth further discussion:

I recommend that the NSWPF develop a cadre of counterterrorist negotiators and provide them with appropriate training to equip them to respond to a terrorist siege. (rec. 21/334, p. 314)

The Sydney Morning Herald shared the following in this article:

Among his key recommendations were:
  • an overhaul of police negotiator training
  • the creation of a specialist cadre of counter-terrorism negotiators
  • a reconsideration of the entrenched philosophy of "contain and negotiate"
  • a clarification of snipers' legal power to shoot
  • a review of the the threshold for calling out the Australian Defence Force in domestic terrorism situations
  • the sharing of criminal bail histories among all Australian jurisdictions
  • more collaboration between NSW Health and NSW Police to identify "fixated" offenders
  • an overhaul of the ASIO triage system for tip-offs
From the Guardian:
  • The “contain and negotiate” police response to the siege failed.
  • Commanders underestimated the threat Monis posed.
  • There was some confusion around the lines of command.
  • Negotiators had received little, if any, specialist training about how to deal with terrorists and did not explore options to communicate with Monis.
And more from the Guardian:
Barnes said it was “entirely appropriate” for police to refuse Monis’ demands to be broadcast on radio, but options could have been explored.
“A compromise could have been explored, such as an offer to let a released hostage read a statement prepared by Monis and vetted by police. The opportunity to use this and to foster engagement with Monis was not sufficiently considered.”
Police could have also communicated better with hostages. The failure to do so increased their sense of abandonment, he said.
Read the full report [HERE].

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NWA Law Enforcement Host Hostage Negotiation Training

...Lt. Derek Wright with Springdale Police said it takes a special kind of officer to be a negotiator, and not anybody can do it.
 "So what we look for are officers that go beyond just listening to someone. We try to understand where they are mentally and emotionally and why they are there, what caused them to be where 
they are right now. Once officers can understand that and our negotiators get to that point we can work for the best solution and for whatever can help that person get out of that crisis situation," Wright said.
Watch the video and read more [HERE]. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

US, UK say Boko Haram wants to kidnap foreigners in Nigeria

The United States and British governments are warning that the Boko Haram extremist group is actively planning to kidnap foreigners in northeast Nigeria.
The British warning says the extremists are targeting Western foreign workers in the Bama area of Borno state, close to the Cameroon border.
Read more from Fox News [HERE]. 
Read more on Boko Haram:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

New ISIS "Just Terror Tactics" Calls For Hostage Taking

The latest issue of ISIS's terror magazine, Rumiyah (issue 9), addresses hostage taking. This is important for crisis and hostage negotiators to read and understand as it presents the potential perspective of a terrorist-subject when the incident involves a hostage standoff situation. 

Unfortunately terrorists have previously taken the approach of taking hostages and murdering people in the past in Dhaka, Bangladesh; The Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris, France; and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France. 

Additionally, while reading the excerpts below, it is also important to keep in mind just because this is the recommended approach by ISIS, it is not necessarily the tactic that will be used by the subject. One example that comes to mind is the incident at the Lindt cafe in Sydney, Australia. Did the attacker have a plan? What impact did mental illness have?

Further, it is worth discerning (and discussion with your team) the actions taken by the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida with respect to the recent ISIS suggestions. 

Ultimately the point of this (and my forthcoming report in the Canadian Critical Incident Inc. publication) is to help crisis/hostage negotiation teams be informed while also adapt and train for future incidents. 

From Rumiyah issue 9, released May 4th, 2017 (recap snippets from

"The objective of hostage-taking in the lands of dis­belief [i.e. West] – and specifically in relation to just terror op­erations – is not to hold large numbers of the kuffar hostage in order to negotiate one's demands. 

Rather, the objective is to create as much carnage and terror as one possibly can until Allah decrees his appointed time and the enemies of Allah storm his location or succeed in killing him [i.e. the attacker]."

ISIS goes on to detailing the best locations and scenarios for taking hostages, while reiterating the notion that any undertaken operation that aims to trap people within any confined space is not meant at taking those people as hostages per se, but at killing as many of them as possible and as fast as possible before authorities arrive. 

Any remaining people, it notes, can then be used as human shields or to add up to the terror effect of the operation until the inevitable occurs (i.e.  authorities storm the place, attacker is killed, etc.). "It is also essential for one to know that the aim is to kill as many kuffar as one possibly can, and as quickly as one can before the initial police response. 

After kill­ing those present one should keep a few of his victims alive as hostages to be used as human shields against the anticipated response of the kafir armed forces."

It then goes on to further discuss "ideal locations":

"Ideal target locations for hostage-taking scenarios include night clubs, movie theaters, busy shopping malls and large stores, popular restaurants, concert halls, university campuses, public swimming pools, indoor ice skating rinks, and generally any busy en­closed area, as such an environment allows for one to take control of the situation by rounding up the kuf­far present inside and allows one to massacre them while using the building as a natural defense against any responding force attempting to enter and bring the operation to a quick halt. 

Similarly, characteristics of a good target location include low light conditions, as it grants one the ability to maneuver between the people, taking advantage of the confusion and killing as many of the kuffar as physically possible."

Read more of the review [HERE].

See news reports on this below:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tipping Point: Find What Happened To Create The Crisis

As crisis and hostage negotiators, our role is to try and influence a behavioral change in the subject to gain their voluntary compliance. We are there to resolve the immediate crisis - not their lifelong issues or problems. 

Identifying what happened that day is part of being on the path to achieve that success. The following article from the Australian organization Living Is For Everyone could be helpful with respect to identifying and responding to the Tipping Point for a suicidal person (what triggered the crisis). 

The point at which a person’s risk of taking their own life increases due to the occurrence of some precipitating event, such as a negative life event or an increase in symptoms of a mental disorder.

Tipping points vary for every individual but there are some indicators of times at which people may be under particular stress. These indicators and tipping points can give early warning of the potential for someone to take their own life and are referred to as triggers or precipitating events. They include mental disorders or physical illnesses, alcohol and/or other substance abuse, feelings of interpersonal loss or rejection, or the experience of potentially traumatic life events (unexpected changes in life circumstances).

Tipping points can be thought of as the final straw that may lead someone who has been considering suicide to take action. Examples of events and circumstances that may act as a tipping point include:

• an argument with a loved one or significant person

• the breakdown of a relationship

• the suicide of a family member, friend or public role model

• a media report about suicide

• the onset or recurrence of a mental or physical illness

• unexpected changes in life circumstances; or

• experiencing a traumatic life event, such as abuse, bullying or violence. The diagram below shows different types of precipitating events and circumstances that are linked to the increased likelihood of (suicidal behaviour although they do not necessarily occur sequentially).

The article then offers some ways to respond to the tipping points:
  • Be aware
  • Don't panic
  • Talk to other people who know the person
  • Give the person hope (read more on each at the link below)

Access the full article [HERE]. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Adapting Interrogation Techniques from the HIG (High Value Interrogation Group)

The following report released by the HIG covers numerous important topics related to hostage and crisis negotiators. This includes, rapport building tactics, priming, as well as persuasion and influencing techniques. 


The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) is a specialized interagency interrogation capability that brings together intelligence professionals, subject matter experts, and an international and multi-disciplinary team of researchers. Since its creation in January 2010, the HIG has served as the locus for advancing the science and practice of interrogation within the United States government. To date, the HIG has commissioned a body of scientific research on interrogation that has resulted in more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Equally important, this research has been incorporated into HIG best practices via a continuous cycle of research advising training, training informing operations, and operational experience identifying research gaps and updating training models.

From the section on Influencing Techniques:

Liking is established by finding similarities with the subject. Establishing common ground is a means to both influence and build relationships; liking is increased by similarity and similarity increases liking.

This shows the importance of perception and the contrast in how we think we are doing and what others think:
Subjective measures of rapport. The experience of the subject may not always be what the interviewer claims. While police officers may rate themselves as ‘skilled,’ analyses of taped interviews with suspects have shown that the police are sometimes deficient in rapport building. An analysis of 161 recorded suspect interviews found initial rapport building only in 3% of the interviews. Interviews of 30 people who had been questioned following detention for alleged terrorist-related activities showed that, in comparison with reports from interrogators (of whom 85% reported using social justice strategies which included reciprocity, rapport, and elements of procedural justice], only 25% of the ‘detainees’ reported experiencing such strategies in their interviews with the police.

Go the the FBI website [HERE] to download the PDF file of the full report.

Monday, May 1, 2017

'Anger Iceberg'

I thought this image is a useful reminder for crisis and hostage negotiators and others who work in crisis situations with respect to the emotion of anger. This is also especially important when using active listening skills- often there are other emotions behind anger.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Emotions & Negotiation

The worst time to craft a strategy to deal with strong negative emotions is while you are experiencing them.

From Beyond Reason: Using Your Emotions As You Negotiate - I highly recommend this book. 

Find it at [HERE].

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Body Cam Footage Captures Officer Rescuing Suicidal Man (video)

Police in Hamden, Connecticut, have released body camera footage showing an officer's dramatic rescue of a elderly man who attempted to kill himself by jumping off a sixth-floor balcony.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Principles of Crisis Negotiation

Principles of crisis negotiation- by Scott Tillema

As police crisis negotiators, we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, agencies big and small, urban and rural. We have received training from a wide variety of different sources, teaching us various techniques of communication and influence. Yet, we do common work and and have a common goal, to use verbal influence to peacefully resolve a critical incident. Whether it be a hostage situation or a single individual in crisis, if we expect to find success in our negotiations, there are a few principles that are consistent and fundamental.

1.      Seek first to understand.
We cannot solve a problem if we don't understand what it is. It is much more efficient for us to start off a negotiation by telling someone to put the gun down or come off the ledge, but how can we realistically expect to change a person's behavior without knowing and appreciating their mindset?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Qatar royals among the 26 hostages freed in bargain

In this photo released by Qatar News Agency, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, second left in front row, receives the released Qataris at the Doha airport in Doha, Qatar Friday, April 21, 2017.

(Fox News)- AGHDAD – Qatar has secured the release of 26 hostages after nearly a year and a half in captivity, including members of its ruling family, in what became possibly the region's most complex and sensitive hostage negotiation deal in recent years.

Several people with knowledge of the talks and a person involved in the negotiations said the hostage deal was linked to one of the largest population transfers in Syria's six-year-long civil war...

The complexity of the talks highlights Qatar's role as an experienced and shrewd facilitator in hostage negotiations -- this time involving members of the Gulf Arab state's ruling family.

It also raised allegations that the tiny energy rich nation paid millions of dollars to an al-Qaida-linked group...

Read more [HERE].

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Court: Serious failings in Russian response to Beslan hostage crisis

(CNN)The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that there had been "serious failings" in the Russian authorities' handling of a 2004 terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, where more than 330 people were killed.
The case was brought by 409 relatives of those killed or injured and survivors of the attack, in which more than 1,000 people were held hostage for more than two days in a school gymnasium rigged with explosives by heavily armed Chechen separatists.
More than 180 children were among those killed by the end of the siege, which began as the school held a ceremony to mark the start of a new school year.
Read more [HERE].
  • Read an in-depth review, specifically from the hostage negotiation perspective, by Adam Dolnik [HERE]. 
  • Here's my 'Lessons Learned' on the incident [HERE]. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shootout: Somali Pirates Attempt To Hijack A Boat

(Via NY Daily News)-A cargo ship said ahoy to Somali pirates with a hail of gunfire.

Video posted Thursday shows a private security crew fighting off two skiffs of high-seas bandits.

By Saturday it had gone viral with more than 6 million views of the recording, which resembles something out of a “Call of Duty” video game.

More [HERE].

Monday, April 17, 2017

At What Cost? The Burden of Wearing the Badge

The inaugural Police Mental Health Symposium will provide a forum for policing agencies to discuss the challenges and global best practice in mental health policy. Experts and policing leaders will convene in Washington, DC on June 2. The symposium is open to local, state and federal policing agencies, as well as partner agencies in relevant fields, and will be hosted by the Australian Federal Police.

See the flyer [HERE].