Friday, June 23, 2017

Bill Richardson: America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken



"The blame is theirs. The lesson for us is that America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken."


The following op-ed from Bill Richardson, former governor and US Ambassador to the UN, shares his thoughts that are worth reading and coming to your own conclusions. There's some interesting overlaps with our work in crisis/hostage negotiation, especially in terrorist incidents. Specifically check out the last section of the snippet below:


Otto Warmbier was laid to rest June 22 by his loving family in their town outside of Cincinnati, nine days after he was brought home in a coma after 17 months of imprisonment in North Korea. The North Korean government described him as a prisoner of war, so by their own definition, his death is their absolute responsibility, pursuant to the Geneva Conventions. That the North Korean government kept him in an unresponsive state without proper medical assistance constitutes a crime in terms of international law and flouts common decency.

The blame is theirs. The lesson for us is that America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken.
I’ve helped rescue hostages from around the world and from North Korea, specifically. In 1994, I negotiated the return of downed Army helicopter pilot from North Korea and the remains of his co-pilot. In 1996, I helped bring American Evan Hunziker back from North Korea. I, and the team at my center, worked for 15 months to try to gain Otto’s release, including a visit to Pyongyang in September.
...First, we have to recognize that time is no longer neutral. In past instances, all that mattered was working toward an outcome, no matter how long it might take. But urgency must be the new norm if we’re to have a chance at curtailing the physical and mental abuse that prisoners can face, particularly when dealing with unpredictable actor

Read more from Bill Richardson's op-ed at the Washington Post [HERE].

Monday, June 19, 2017

NTOA Annual Crisis Negotiation's Conference



  • Access to over a dozen courses, debriefs and breakout classes
  • Two-day trade show with more than 200 vendors
  • Food and drinks at the two-day trade show
  • Breakout classes at the trade show
  • Private function at Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball game Sponsor by Vista Outdoor
  • Tactical Conference Opening Ceremony with keynote speaker
  • Welcome Reception networking event on Monday night
  • Custom Voodoo Tactical Backpack
Get more information by visiting the NTOA site [HERE]. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Melbourne Terrorist Attack and Hostage Situation


The innocent employee fatally shot during a terror attack at a Melbourne apartment building yesterday has been identified as a father-of-one who recently got married. 
Police are investigating whether the Somalian-born Roxburgh Park man deliberately lured them into a deadly ambush after it was revealed he had booked a female escort, whom he took hostage, and triggered an alert on his tracker.
The 29-year-old suspect, who was on parole, was holed up in one of the ground floor apartments with a shotgun and the female escort, and called the Channel Seven newsroom, stating: "This is for IS, this is for al-Qaeda".
The subject was shot and killed after he exited the location shooting at police officers with a shotgun. Two officers were shot and are hospitalized.

Read more at 9News.com.au [HERE].  



As the situation unfolded, the 9News reporter earlier said: "There is a man holed up in a Bay Street apartment who seems to be holding another woman against her will."
They said police had flooded the area to reports of explosions or "loud bangs" - but police were negotiating trying to bring the situation to a peaceful end, but the situation was "very volatile"

Read more from Mirror.co.uk [HERE]. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

After Pulse, police may need to change tactics, report says


Police protocol for hostage situations during terrorist attacks may need to change in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre last year, according to the group hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to review the Orlando attack.

Local law enforcement agencies should create policies specifically for terrorism involving suicide bombers or hostage situations, researchers from the Police Foundation suggested in a new journal article that examines lessons from the mass shootings in Orlando — where 49 people died — and San Bernardino, Calif.


The article addresses concerns...

Read the full article at the Orlando Sentinel [HERE]. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

REMAINING RESILIENT AFTER TRAUMATIC EVENTS


The following is a document shared by Hostage US regarding seafarers that have been kidnapped. You'll find from the snippet below and by reading the document that it is applicable to all people involved in traumatic events,, including crisis and hostage incidents.

This full list of signs can remind a negotiation team of what the hostages (and subject) could be experiencing during the incident and how it can impact their perception and ultimately their actions.

Finally, keep in mind this could happen to us as negotiators too- make sure you take care of yourself.


REMAINING RESILIENT AFTER TRAUMATIC EVENTS
A post incident guide for you, your family and friends

Seafarers and others in the maritime industry may face the effects of trauma if caught up in an incident as well as the trauma faced by the perceived threat of becoming involved in an incident.

Traumatic events are ones which have the potential to interfere with your ability to function correctly and while most people recover well from such events, it would not be unusual if after an incident, you are now experiencing, or later experience, some strong emotional or physical reactions. Don’t forget it is very common and quite normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have experienced a traumatic event.

Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event; however sometimes it may take time (days or even weeks) for them to emerge. While not everyone will notice their own distress, it is not uncommon for people who know them well (such as family, colleagues or friends) to recognise that they “behave differently”.

The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last days, weeks, months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. 


Here are some very common signs and signals of a stress reaction:
THOUGHTS

  • Blaming someone
  • Confusion
  • Poor attention
  • Poor decisions
  • Heightened or lowered alertness Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Dif culty identifying familiar things or people Poor problem solving
  • Loss of person, place or time orientation Disturbed thinking
  • Nightmares 
Access the full document from Hostage US [HERE]. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Terrorism and Hostage


My recent report on terrorism and hostage negotiation was recently published by Canadian Critical Incident Inc.'s Command Post. Due to its length, they decided to break it up into two parts. The second part will be published in their summer issue.

If you would like a personal copy of the report (not the full issue) feel free to email me. To access the full report and the entire issue, I highly recommend you subscribe to CCI by becoming a member and visiting [HERE].

Snippet:

Law enforcement crisis hostage negotiators are called into action during situations that are tense, unpredictable, anxiety- lled, potentially volatile, and often emotionally driven. The negotiation team must enter a chaotic situation, bring calm, and work collaboratively with the subject to initiate a behavioral change for the purpose of gaining the subject’s voluntary compliance.

Terrorist attacks across the world have demonstrated that these attackers are no longer relying on the use of explosions and gunfire. Many incidents now involve kidnapping as well as hostage-taking, where the attacker will barricade himself to prolong the incident (examples are included in the report).

It is necessary for both American and Canadian crisis hostage negotiation teams (C/HNT) to ensure they are prepared to respond to these unique incidents. They should understand how to work toward a peaceful resolution, and when that is not possible, how to “buy-time” for the tactical team, and develop an effective strategy that considers the conditions of that particular incident.

This article provides techniques and strategies to consider when preparing a C/HNT for a terrorist incident involving hostages and a barricaded subject. These suggestions are not an all-inclusive list. Instead, they should serve as a starting point for negotiators who can further develop and adapt them according to the unique needs of each individual C/HNT. What is universal, however, and should be part of any terrorism-related training, is the inclusion of both lectures and interactive elements...


The first part of the report includes sections on:

  • Recent Attacks Involving the Use of Crisis Hostage Negotiation Teams
  • Use of Third Party Intermediaries
  • Social Media
  • Situation Boards, Role of the Scribe 


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 MEMRI.org):

"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 

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:

Positivity/Liking.
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.