Kidnapping: Saudi Arabia urges citizens not to travel to Lebanon


September 16, 2013

Source: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia has warned its citizens against travel to Lebanon, reported the Saudi national news agency (SPA) Thursday. “The Foreign Ministry calls on all citizens not to travel to Lebanon for their own safety due to the current situation in the region,” SPA said.

Ali Awad Asiri

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri speaks during a press conference in Rabieh, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. (The Daily Star/Charbel Nakhoul, HO)

 

The Ministry also called on citizens living in or visiting Lebanon to contact the Saudi embassy in Beirut to provide them with the necessary assistance.

Last week, the U.S. urged its non-emergency staff and their family members to leave Lebanon, citing security concerns.

That announcement came after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional approval for a military strike against the regime in Lebanon’s neighbor Syria. But Obama Tuesday urged Congress to put off the vote, vowing to explore a diplomatic plan from Russia to take away Syria’s chemical arms.

Lebanon has vowed to protect embassies in the country.

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Wednesday that Lebanon regards as important the security of foreign embassies.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Asiri has recently said that his country has put in place a contingency plan for the evacuation of its nationals in Lebanon.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail 

Skype: abpworld

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
0-808-189-0066 UK Toll Free Number
800-11-618        Norway Toll Free Number

Worldwide International Number: +31-208112223

Worldwide 24/7 Emergency Number: +34 633 374 629

Kidnapping for Ransom Too Lucrative for Terrorists


July 7 , 2013

Source: ASP

Kidnapping Western nationals for ransom has unlocked an alarming source of funds for terrorist organizations, and current counter-strategies don’t seem to offer an effective deterrent.

Kidnapping

According to David Cohen at the U.S. Treasury Department, terrorist organizations have accumulated over $120 million through kidnapping for ransom (KFR) between 2004 and 2012—a fairly enticing supply of cash for organizations that have increasingly turned to criminal networks and techniques to finance attacks.

The U.K.’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism estimates that over 150 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by Islamist terrorist groups since 2008, many by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). In fact AQIM alone received an estimated $65 million in KFR payments between 2005 and 2011, with notable kidnappings that include the In Amenas hostage crisis and the abduction of a German, a Swiss, and two British tourists in Mali.

Providing a rare look into the inner workings of the AQIM organization, a few weeks ago the Associated Press discovered a letter (verified by the Pentagon) from AQIM leaders scolding Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the AQIM faction al-Mulathameen Brigade, for his handling of the hostage negotiations for kidnapped Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler.

While the letter did provide valuable insight into the inner workings of AQIM, it most notably confirmed that leaders recognize the profitability of KFR as a long term strategy and that they are confident in their ability to negotiate higher and higher sums.

Although Canadian officials denied involvement, the letter indicated that Belmokhtar had negotiated $1.1 million in ransom (“meager” by AQIM standards) to secure the release of captured diplomat Robert Fowler in 2009. Some argued that while the Canadian government may not have paid the sum directly, officials have not denied that a third party was involved.

Most Western governments denounce negotiating with terrorists, but with the exception of the U.S. and the U.K. few seem to actually adhere to this pledge.

g8The G8’s communiqué issued last week did include a staunch guarantee from all member states to not paying terrorist ransoms. In addition to the three T’s—trade, taxes, and transparency—on the agenda, the world leaders united to “unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists.”

This declaration marks an important step towards showing solidarity among world leaders and publicizing the issue of KFR in regions like North Africa. Higher awareness among travelers and private sector workers might be the best first step.

However given the inconsistency of governments in the past, the G8 declaration needs some more prescriptions to have consequence.

Interestingly the other recommendations that the G8 made to improve transparency and fight corruption could also help to mitigate KFR if thoroughly pursued, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

Pertinent FATF standards include:

  • Linking customs and tax agencies to prevent money laundering and cash couriers
  • Establishing financial intelligence units that track illicit money flow
  • Stricter requirements for financial institutions to report suspicious activity
  • Criminalizing funding a terrorist organizations regardless if those funds are linked to an attack

These will help expose private companies or third party organizations that may be paying ransoms, with or without government knowledge, and impose much stricter consequences.

One potential obstacle is the difficulty with which governments label terrorists. As terrorist groups and other criminal organizations collaborate more, radicals will begin to use criminal surrogates to kidnap foreigners and negotiate ransoms on their behalf.

01114013_Kenya_border_crossing_300

This aspect has to be approached at a local and regional level. The U.S. can work with high KFR risk nations to improve protection services and institutions, but regional cooperation must improve, especially in North Africa. Morocco and Algeria have to reengage and participate in organizations such as the Arab Maghreb Union. Intelligence sharing from local sources and border cooperation can effectively combat criminal and terrorist operations.

If AQIM and other groups continue to reap cash from the KFR industry, other efforts to limit terror financing will become futile. The U.S. and the U.K. must continue to press Europe to commit to non-negotiation, foster greater regional cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb, and increase public awareness of the high risk of kidnapping.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
0-808-189-0066 UK Toll Free Number
800-11-618        Norway Toll Free Number

24/7 Emergency Number: 0047 40466526

Egypt – Kidnapping damages reputation of Sinai tribes: Bedouin spokesperson


May 22, 2013

Source: ahramonline.org

Tribal coalition in Sinai Peninsula is working with Egyptian authorities to discover whereabouts of seven security personnel kidnapped last week.
Rafah
File photograph, the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and Gaza, and the only gateway for Gaza’s people, is closed and guarded by Egyptian border guards in Rafah, Egypt. (Photo: AP)
A spokesperson for Bedouin tribes in the Sinai Peninsula has denied knowing the location of seven Egyptian security personnel kidnapped in the region on Thursday.

Speaking on Beytna El-Kebir on state television on Saturday, Coalition of Arab Tribes spokesperson Moussa El-Lahawi said the incident “hurts the reputation of the tribes.”

El-Lawahi added that he was in constant communication with the security services and was helping them search for the kidnapped men.

On Thursday, seven Egyptian security personnel – a member of the armed forces, four port security officers, and two state security officers – were kidnapped by unknown assailants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

It is not the first time since Egypt’s revolution in 2011 that confrontations have taken place between security forces and tribesmen.

Some Sinai residents seek revenge against the security forces for their heavy-handed policies under Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly, who many accuse of failing to respect human rights and tribal traditions.

Sinai_Risk_Tribes

Mohamed El-Asati, a member of Sinai’s Aleiqat tribe, told Ahram Online on Thursday that interior ministry policies had left a painful legacy among local tribesmen, especially under the current Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

El-Asati added, “The security apparatus do not respect tribal traditions or customs,” he said. “We have always been regarded as shepherds, drug traffickers or spies for Israel. So after the revolution, you find psychological reasons for [tribesmen’s] desires for vengeance.”

“We paid a heavy price in terms of our security and dignity in the Mubarak era … We will not allow the interior ministry’s old brutal policies to return during the era of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” he asserted.

Militants allegedly belonging to Tawhid wal-Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad) were convicted of killing five security officers and one civilian during attacks in June/July 2011 on an Al-Arish city police station and a North Sinai branch of the Bank of Alexandria. Twenty-five individuals were charged over the attacks.

A security source, who asked not to be named, stated on Thursday that the kidnappers had accused Egyptian security forces of torturing one of the detained men.

In response to the kidnapping, Egyptian policemen closed the entrance and exit gates to the port of Rafah. The protest entered its third day on Sunday.

 

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

(646) 502-7443 United States

069 2547 2471 Germany

020 3239 0013 United Kingdom

01 442 9322 Ireland

031-753 83 77 Sweden

Parental Abduction: Sharjah mother: I am living a nightmare


Source: Gulfnews.com

Forcibly separated from her two sons, Sharjah mother fights back for their custody from husband

Sharjah: On August 12, Arafath will turn four. But his mother won’t be around to hug him. Instead Irum Iqbal will be kneeling down in prayer – a routine she has zealously followed every evening since January 13, the day Arafath and his younger brother, Hasanath, whom she was still breastfeeding – were snatched by her estranged husband and flown to Hyderabad, India without her knowledge.

Irum, 27, is a Pakistani citizen, while her husband, Mir Zarafath Ali, is Indian.

Given the thorny relations between the two countries, the likelihood of Irum going to India and wresting custody of her children, both Indian passport holders, is as minuscule as the eye of a needle.

Yet Irum is hopeful of being reunited with them. “I have faith in Allah. I am sure my prayers won’t go unanswered in this holy month,” she said wiping away her tears.

Irum has also moved the Sharjah Sharia Court seeking a divorce and custody of her children. On August 8, the court summoned Ali. He didn’t show up. Instead, he sent Irum a Letter of Reconciliation laying down some bizarre terms and conditions for his return. Among them: Irum will give him whatever she has earned since he has been away; provide a break-up of her expenditure all this while; agree to hand him whatever she earns in future; not maintain any social networking account; visit her family only once a week and not leave home without her husband’s permission.

Irum will forego the right to take legal action against Ali if she signs the draft, says a clause in the Letter of Reconciliation, a copy of which is with XPRESS. Ali has drafted a similar letter for himself.

Irum and Ali got married in the UAE in November 2006, but their bliss didn’t last long. They had regular fights. Irum claims the fights became more frequent and intense when Ali lost his job and his family business in Sharjah suffered losses. “He started to live off my salary. When that wasn’t enough, he started selling my jewellery. One by one he sold off all the pieces. I didn’t mind that as I wanted to salvage our relationship. But when he sold the last piece, he threw me out of the house. Two days later, he flew away with my kids to India. I am living a nightmare. In the seven months that have rolled by since then, there has not been a single day when I have not wept thinking about Arafath and Hasanath. They are so small. I don’t know how they are managing without me. Hasanath is not even two years old. I was breastfeeding him when he was taken away,” said Irum who works with a telecom service provider and currently lives with her parents in Sharjah.

Irum said she was emboldened to talk about her plight after coming across an earlier XPRESS cover story (June 16, 2011) on Dubai-based Maimouna Liskauskaite whose children were snatched by her husband under similar circumstances.

“I can relate to Maimouna as I am going through the same hell. When I read about her, I rang her up. We talked about our kids and tried to console each other. It was a futile attempt because towards the end both of us were crying.”

Desperate to have her kids back Irum has now urged Indian authorities and NGOs to intervene. “This is not about India and Pakistan, this is about a mother and her children,” she said.

P.K. Askok Babu, Consul (media) at the Consulate General of India admitted the case is “complicated”.

“It was brought to our notice after Ali had left for India. Ali had approached the Consulate… he has been advised to take the legal route to resolve the dispute with his wife,” Babu said in an e-mail statement to XPRESS.

On his part, Ali denies any wrongdoing. He said he was ready to accept Irum provided she signs the Letter of Reconciliation and mends her ways. “I have seen her smoking and drinking and have photographs to prove that,” he said over the phone from India. He said he has mailed the offending pictures to the judge, but refused to send them to XPRESS. “I respect the privacy of my wife and do not want to malign her.”

Irum ridicules the queer reasoning. “If he can talk about my supposed smoking and drinking habits, why can’t he send the pictures as well?”

Parental child abduction on the rise

Parental child abduction is proving to be a growing concern in the UAE. Experts reckon this is largely because of the country’s large expat community. A parent or grandparent could face legal action if he/she abducts his/her own child or grandchild from the person who has legal guardianship or custody as established by a UAE judicial decision. But since the UAE is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, foreign governments cannot enforce their own laws here. Statistics on parental child abduction in the UAE are hard to come by, but information released by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), gives an indication of the magnitude of the problem.

According to FCO, the UAE is one of the top locations for abductions of British children by one of their estranged parents.

The US State Department also reported seven cases of child abduction (under US law) in 2009 in the UAE involving nine children, up from six cases in 2008 and four cases in 2007.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook