International Kidnapping, Terrorism & Crisis Negotiation

Here is list of hostage and kidnap negotiation related news and information that is continually updated.

Last updated: 12.15.16


Held Hostage: Analyses of Kidnapping Across Time and Among Jihadist Organizations is a report that examines trends related to the kidnapping of Westerners by jihadist groups. The report relies on a newly gathered open-source dataset of the kidnapping of Westerners from 2001–2015, which the CTC publicly releases together with this report. We believe that the report and accompanying data will be an important resource for policymakers, practitioners, and academics interested in this area. 

Read more from the Counter Terrorism Center at West Point  [HERE].

BOOKS AND RESEARCH (still a work in progress)

(old but well-known) Hostage Survival

Taken Hostage (the work of non-profit group Hostage UK)

(Audio interview from NPR) The Psychology of Kidnapping

ARTICLES (articles will now published in date order)

December 13, 2016
Kidnapping for ransom works like a market- How it is organized is surprising
Read more at the Washington Post [HERE].

December 2, 2016
'Captive in the jungle' An Account From A Hostage Held By Terrorists
Read more from [HERE].

November 12, 2016
Pirates on the high seas haven’t gone away, they’ve just changed their tactics
Read more from [HERE].

October 2, 2016 
Status Report on the Implementation of Executive Order 13698 Hostage Recovery Activities

September 27, 2016
Nigeria Describes 3 Failed Negotiations With Boko Haram on Kidnapped Girls
Read more from the [HERE]. 

September 26, 2016 
Abu Sayyaf's Malaysian hostage pleads for help in phone call to media
Read more at the International Business Times [HERE]. 

September 18, 2016 
Ex-hostage tells of terror as friends beheaded in Philippines
Read more [HERE]. 

September 14, 2016
Is Obama the Last Hope for American Hostages?
Team Obama is pushing hard to free the seven Americans being held hostage in the Middle East. Would a President Trump or Clinton do the same? Hostage families fear not.
Read more from [HERE]. 

September 12, 2016
In a Shift, U.S. Includes Families in Hostage Rescue Efforts
When the United States became aware late last month of a video showing an American woman and a Canadian man pleading to be saved from their Taliban captors, the government did something it had not done well in the past.
Read more from the [HERE]. 

August 30, 2016
Emails Show ISIS Appeared Eager to Release Kayla Mueller for Ransom, Expert Says 
...But a former senior FBI agent told ABC News that U.S. government negotiators missed the likely final opportunity to free the last American in captivity for ransom almost two years ago, which ISIS said was "still a possibility" in its last email to her parents before her death.
"I think the Muellers have a right to be upset," said retired FBI chief hostage negotiator Chris Voss, who reviewed 27 emails exchanged between ISIS and Kayla Mueller's parents for ABC News' "20/20."
...Not making a ransom offer to ISIS -- which would have been, in fact, legally allowable under a Bush-era presidential directive -- was the biggest missed opportunity to free Kayla, said Voss, the retired FBI agent.

Read more from ABC News [HERE]. 

July 31, 2016
The bone-chilling story of survival, from Jihadi John's ransomed hostage
Daniel Rye, 26, was on the trail of missing journalist James Foley when, in 2013, he was seized in Syria.
For 13 months he was beaten and tortured by British-born IS thugs. With him were hostages John Cantlie, Alan Henning and Foley himself.
Rye survived, and what follows is his account, the most intimately detailed ever from inside an ISIS jail, described in terrifying but utterly compelling terms by writer Puk DamsgÃ¥rd…
More from the Daily Mail [HERE]. 

July 4, 2016 
Hostage negotiations: There are no simple answers, just harsh dilemmas
The issue is not “Do we pay ransoms?” but “Who pays the ransoms?”
...Even more complex are the shadowy intermediaries who claim to know the “real” ransom amount. In many cases. they are paid success fees, so the amounts raised by families have to be increased to meet the ever-changing financial targets. The pressures on the families are unimaginable.
Globe and Mail article [HERE]

You Will Be Sold to ISIS in Three Hours, and Only He Can Save You

There is no “normal” kidnapping and ransom (K&R) case. Each one is a tangle of false leads, misaligned interests and lies. Each one is also potentially lethal. But it is a business, and just as there are career kidnappers—pirates, South American gangs, Niger Delta militants—there are career responders too.

A hostage-response operation comes in two parts: the crisis-management team (CMT), led by a negotiator, and an incident-response team (IRT), comprising the men on the ground. These are men like Sean: the knuckle-draggers, as they’re sometimes called, who are contracted to handle the logistical legwork such as pickups and drop-offs.

It’s a booming business. Global kidnapping of internationals is on the rise. In Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mali, Somalia, Kenya, Cameroon, Haiti, Yemen, Kashmir, everyone is a potential victim—journalists, aid workers, diplomats, missionaries, tourists, hikers, engineers.

Read more from (yes, safe for work) [HERE]. 

Hostages in Somalia, Yemen

“Hostage rescues are the hardest thing we do,” the senior Pentagon official said. “It’s twice as hard as capturing a prisoner” in a hostile environment overseas, as Special Operations forces have done successfully on a number of occasions during the Obama administration.
Read more from the Washington Post [HERE].

Spain 'paid £7m for release of journalists taken hostage in Syria'
The Spanish government paid $11 million (£7m) in ransom money to save three journalists held hostage in Syria by al-Qaeda-linked jihadists, according to a Turkish newspaper.Asked about the story in the newspaper Yeni Safak, Spain’s acting foreign minister said he could not confirm or deny that a ransom had been paid to secure the reporters’ release.
Read more from the [HERE]. 

US wants to recover remains of hostage killed by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD–Almost 16 months after the tragic death of Dr Warren Weinstein – a US national who was abducted from Pakistan to bargain the release of key al-Qaeda and Taliban militants arrested by the American and Pakistani authorities, US military and intelligence sleuths are still making frantic efforts to recover his remains. They’re seeking to take them back to his widow who had severely criticized the Obama administration for its failure to ensure his release and then for killing him in a CIA-led drone attack.
Read more from [HERE]. 

Amanda Lindhout and mom share painful phone call from captivity

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in 2008 in Somalia and held for ransom for 15 months.

Her mother, Lordina Stewart, raised the money on her own in order to rescue her daughter as Canada does not pay ransom to terrorists.

...Lindhout and Stewart joined The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti from Calgary to talk about the demand for ransom, the government's refusal to pay, the RCMP involvement and how the haunting "worst call" illustrates the emotional toll a kidnapping takes on those back home.

Read more and listen to one of the actual phone calls from [HERE].

Up to 100,000 Mexicans are kidnapped every year - and it's not just the rich who are at risk. 

Plumbers, hairdressers, street-sweepers - anyone can be a target of capture, torture and even murder. 
Millionaire ransoms are demanded - but with kidnappers accepting sums as low as US$500, it means no-one is safe.
This story about one kidnap contains strong language and upsetting scenes.
Kidnapping is drastic, and quite cruel, but I don't feel any remorse at all. Sorry, I just don't.”

Crack (the kidnapper) is an example of how the booming business of the drug cartels in Mexico has spilled over into other crimes, such as kidnappings or extortions, sometimes to replenish their cash reserves.
Read more from the BBC [here]. 

New book: journalists & International Kidnapping- are they prepared?
Published by IB Taurus, The Kidnapping of Journalists: Reporting from High Risk Conflict Zones, highlights the challenges facing news organisations - in attempting to protect journalists and in responding to the kidnap of one of their own - and reporters working in dangerous locations.
It also looks at the situation for freelancers who lack organisational protection and therefore often face an even bigger risk.
Read more [HERE].

The Mind of the Kidnap Victim: How They Endure and Recover
Abduction is a singularly grotesque transaction. In a single instant, a relationship between two people changes to one of captor and prisoner, owner and chattel. One holds absolute power and the other holds none. Worse, the person in charge knew the moment was coming—sometimes for a long time. The powerless one had no idea.
Read more [HERE]. 

Kidnapping is the easiest crime to commit’: Hostage threat grows as ISIL inspires copycats, expert says

It’s like a high-stakes game of poker, except there’s no walking away from the table. That’s how Alan Bell describes what happens when a Canadian is kidnapped overseas and held for ransom.
Read more from the [HERE].

John Ridsdel execution: Why refusing to pay ransoms may not protect Canadians

Ransoms fund terrorist organizations and make Canadians travelling abroad potential targets for more abductions, Trudeau warned. But some analysts say that governments need to be flexible when it comes to dealing with kidnapping of their citizens.
Read more from the [HERE]. 

Amanda Lindhout: I owe my life to those who paid my ransom. But our government shouldn't pay

In hostage situations, the pressure on both sides — at home and in captivity — is immense. Kidnappers know this. They understand how to manipulate a family and its home government by making their captives suffer and by sharing that suffering in phone calls, photos or videos. But for the government to pay a ransom, as Trudeau pointed out, is to lose a larger battle.
Read more from the [HERE]. 

Violent attacks worsen in seas off West Africa despite global piracy downturn, IMB reports

As piracy on the world’s seas continues to fall, new figures from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) highlight growing violence off the coast of West Africa, where 44 seafarers have been captured so far this year.
Read more from [HERE].

Only 6% of kidnaps in 2015 were perpetrated by Islamist terrorists

Read more from [HERE]. 

Abu Sayyaf Militants Thriving as Hostage-Takers in Philippines

Read more from the NY Times [HERE]. 

Family of U.S. Hostage Killed in Botched Strike Blasts the White House

The family of an American aid worker who was taken hostage by al Qaeda and later killed in a botched U.S. counterterrorism operation says the Obama administration is refusing to follow a law passed to provide compensation for relatives of hostages because it views the price tag in his case as too high.
Read more from [HERE]. 

First hand account of surviving one year as a ISIS hostage

Read more from the BBC [HERE]. 

The Importance of a Reception Plan When a Hostage/Kidnap Victim is Released

ISIS release the last 40 hostages of 230 Assyrian Christians kidnapped in Syria after religious group raises millions of dollars in ransom from worldwide appeal
Read more from the [HERE]. 

Pakistan kidnap: Shahbaz Taseer recalls four-year hostage ordeal

"They drugged me five minutes after abducting me. I passed out - they had beaten me up very badly because I was moving and screaming while being drugged."
While held by Uzbek militants, he says he was "tortured badly", and that he and his captors "could never relate to each other".

Read more from the [HERE].

French Police Interview regarding negotiations during the terrorist attack at the Bataclan

Warren Weinstein: The Hostage (60 Minutes)
Elaine Weinstein, whose husband was kidnapped in Pakistan, tells Lesley Stahl about her harrowing negotiations to secure his release and how the U.S.
When 70-year-old Warren Weinstein was kidnapped at gunpoint in August 2011, he was dragged, bleeding, from his house, here in Lahore. His wife Elaine would not know if he was alive for seven months. Then one early morning she got a call from the kidnappers. They put Warren on the phone.

Read more [HERE]. 

“The Killing of Warren Weinstein”
Read more from the NY [HERE]. 

The James Foley Story
More from [HERE]. 

Hostage Camp

Read more from [HERE].