Monday, October 21, 2013

Proof of life: Behind the hostage industry

Remarkably, she became the chief hostage negotiator and carried through Nigel's rescue to the point of entering Somalia and delivering the $500,000 ransom in cash in a backpack.
Her experience of how to respond to a ransom demand and whose advice not to take provide an intriguing insight into the world of hostage taking and negotiation.

The news is frightening. Men armed with assault weapons have kidnapped a loved one and taken them to a holding place, possibly the dungeon of a house, where they are locked in a room, possibly in chains.
The heavily accented voice down the phone line says you can have your loved one back, for a price, and names a large ransom sum. Fail to pay the sum, the voice says, and your loved one will die.

Kidnaps for ransom are on the rise and travellers or workers from First World countries such as Australia, Europe and the US with access to large cash amounts are prize targets.

It happened to Nicky Bonney when her brother, Nigel Brennan, and a fellow journalist Amanda Lindhout were abducted in Somalia's lawless capital, Mogadishu, by six men with AK47 rifles Somalia in 2008....

Proof of Life

The first thing to establish is if your loved one is still alive. Either the kidnappers will let you speak with them or they will post a video or photograph of the victim with date evidence, such as a newspaper.
This "proof of life" also helps to crank up the ransom demand....

The list of countries to avoid is long, and always changing, but these are the top 10 areas for threat of kidnap for ransom, according to crisis management company red24:

1. Afghanistan: about 950 kidnappings for ransom per year.
2. Somalia: 24 vessels offshore seized in 2011, more than 400 hostages taken and 265 still captive.
3. Iraq: complex risk environment with criminal, terrorist and politically-motivated kidnappers.
4Nigeria: well in excess of 1000 kidnappings for ransom annually.
5. Pakistan: officially 15,000 kidnappings a year, true number higher, but few are for ransom.

Read more and see the full list here: