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.

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Europol identifies 3600 Organised Crime Groups active in the European Union (SOCTA 2013 Report)


April 6, 2013

Source: Europol

In the most detailed study ever undertaken of its kind in the European law enforcement community Europol has identified an estimated 3,600 organised crime groups currently active in the EU. The EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), published by Europol today, found that international drug trafficking remains the most active organised crime activity but it also identified the emergence of new criminal phenomena, many linked to the current economic crisis and the internet.  These new developments are changing the nature of organised crime towards a model based around a networked community of heterogeneous, international groups.

europol

“A new breed of organised crime groups is emerging in Europe, capable of operating in multiple countries and criminal sectors. These groups are no longer defined by their nationality or specialisation in one area of crime but by an ability to operate on an international basis, with a business-like focus on maximising profit and minimising risk. They are the epitome of our new globalised society,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The 2013 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) delivers a set of recommendations based on an in-depth analysis of the major crime threats facing the EU. The report draws on significant intelligence collected from law enforcement agencies in the EU Member States, other EU Agencies, and Europol’s own databases.  The Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will use the report’s findings and recommendations to define priorities for the next four years.

Based on analysis of the prevailing threats the SOCTA 2013 has identified the crime areas which require the greatest concerted action by EU Member States and other actors to ensure the most effective impact on the general threat. These threats include crime areas that have recently gained significance or were not regarded as priority areas earlier, but now stand out against other crime threats because of their impact on society.  The priorities identified in the report are:

  • Facilitation of illegal immigration
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Counterfeit goods with an impact on public health and safety
  • Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud
  • Synthetic drugs production and poly-drug trafficking in the EU
  • Cybercrime
  • Money laundering

The conditions of the current economic crisis and resulting changes in consumer demand are fuelling a shift in serious criminal activity.  Reduced consumer spending power has inspired counterfeiters to expand into new product lines such as commodity counterfeiting, illicit trade in sub-standard goods and goods violating health and safety regulations. In addition to the traditional counterfeiting of luxury products, organised crime groups are now also counterfeiting daily consumer goods including foods and medical products. The increased production and distribution of these goods have significant implications for public health and safety.

Meanwhile other forms of economic crime, especially fraud, have grown in scale and impact.  Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud, which derives from a manipulation of the VAT tax regime, is responsible for the loss of billions of Euros each year in the government revenues of Member States, illustrating the extent to which organised crime harms the economy.

Money seized by German customs agency Zoll during anti-money laundering operation is displayed before agency's annual statistics news conference in Berlin

“The fight against organised crime has big implications for the EU’s ability to secure an effective economic recovery.  Through a recent expansion of the ‘black market’ and notable developments in fraudulent activity criminal groups are denying governments, businesses, and citizens billions of Euros each year in lost tax receipts, profits, and private income.  Stronger action is needed in the EU to close down these criminal activities and protect our economic base,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The internet is also a major driver of criminal activity, enabling organised crime groups to access a large pool of victims, obscure their activities and carry out a diverse range of criminal acts in a shorter period of time and on a much larger scale than ever before. The spread of the internet and technological advances have caused significant shifts in crime areas and the pattern of criminal activity.

The SOCTA 2013 report is Europol’s flagship product providing information to Europe’s law enforcement community and decision-makers about the threat of serious and organised crime to the EU. The report exists in two versions a restricted for law enforcement and a public version which is available in the Europol publications section of their website.

EU crime gangs find new ways to make money in bad times

 

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Krzysztof “Rambo” Rutkowski kidnappet barn fra Norge igjen


Source: Aftenposten

«Rambo» hjalp ung gutt å flykte fra norsk fosterhjem

Den unge guttens ankomst til Moskva var på avisforsider i Russland i helgen, etter at han flyktet gjennom Europa fra norske myndigheter.

Jeg ble selv oppringt av gutten, som ville ha hjelp til å dra fra fosterhjemmet. Og når et barn selv ringer, da sier det seg selv at det er en alvorlig sak.

Den omstridte polske privatetterforskeren Krzysztof Rutkowski forteller om hvordan han bortførte et barn fra et fosterhjem i Norge, i et intervju med Aftenposten.no via en tolk.

Gutten, som er tidlig i tenårene og født russisk, har bodd flere år i Norge sammen med sin norske tidligere stefar og sin russiske mor.

Han ble plassert i et fosterhjem av det norske barnevernet etter en skilsmisse og en påfølgende barnefordelingsstrid.

Gutten var selv aktiv i planleggingen av flukten fra fosterhjemmet på østlandsområdet. Til fosterforeldrene sa han at han skulle ut på trening, da han i virkeligheten hadde avtalt rømningen med Rutkowski.

– Jeg ville ikke kalt det bortføring. Dette er nødrett, sier den russiske kvinnens norske advokat Maggi Rødvik.

Bortførte jente i sommer

Krzysztof Rutkowski ble for alvor kjent i Norge i sommer, etter at han kidnappet en ni år gammel polsk jente fra sitt norske beredskapshjem, i det som Rutkowski selv kaller en «redningsaksjon».

– Gutten ringte til mitt kontor etter å ha lest om hvordan vi reddet den polske jenta, sier Rutkowski.

Bortføringen av den ni år gamle jenta ble mye omtalt i norske medier.

Forrige helg var Rutkowski, som selv kaller seg «Rambo», avbildet i en russisk tabloidavis sammen med gutten og hans mor, etter at ferden til slutt endte i Moskva.

Bilder tatt av et russisk nyhetsbyrå viser hvordan gutten og hans mor ble møtt av det russiske barneombudet, da de ankom Russland.

Guttens mor har i lengre tid ført en kamp mot det norske barnevernet og mot sin norske eks-mann. Russiske medier har videreformidlet grove beskyldninger mot eks-mannen.

Aftenposten.no får bekreftet fra det aktuelle politidistriktet at en anmeldelse ble levert. Saken ble henlagt på grunn av mangel på bevis.

Norske myndigheter vil ikke kommentere

Aftenposten.no er kjent med at den russiske kvinnen er ilagt besøksforbud overfor sin norske tidligere ektemann.

Norges ambassade til Russland henviser til Utenriksdepartementet, som igjen henviser til Justisdepartementet, fordi saken blir omfattet avHaagkonvensjonen om barnebortføring.

Justisdepartementet ønsker ikke å kommentere enkeltsaker, opplyser kommunikasjonsrådgiver Steffen Aagedal.

– Blander oss ikke i familiekonflikter

– Vi blander oss ikke inn i detaljene i familiesaker, det er ikke vårt anliggende. Her var det snakk om et barn som ringte for å be om hjelp til å komme seg til sitt hjemland. Derfor hjalp jeg ham, sier Rutkowski til Aftenposten.no.

Bortføringen av gutten skjedde 29. juli i år, bare en måned etter at han hentet den polske jenta fra et barnevernshjem i Vestfold.

– Først fløy noen av mine agenter til Norge for å undersøke stedet og kontakte moren. Selv om det var gutten som kontaktet oss, ønsket også moren at vi skulle hjelpe sønnen ut av Norge, sier privatetterforskeren, som også har et TV-program om sin virksomhet på polsk TV.

Fra fosterhjemmet på østlandet bar ferden gjennom Tyskland og til Polen med bil. Lengre kom de imidlertid ikke, fordi gutten var etterlyst av norske myndigheter.

– Moren og sønnen hadde problemer med å komme seg inn i Russland, og måtte derfor bli i Polen og vente på en rettskjennelse som gjorde hjemreisen til Russland mulig, sier Rutkowski.

I Polen fulgte en juridisk drakamp mellom norske og russiske myndigheter.

– Dette ble storpolitikk i Polen, da både norske og russiske myndigheter krevde gutten utlevert, sier advokat Rødvik.

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Brat Camps and Boot Camps for troubled teens


Source: Boot camps
Brat Camps
    Whoever would’ve guessed that watching a bunch of unruly, disrespectful “brats” would be considered entertainment?! From the UK to the United States, viewers are glued to their televisions, watching the adventures, battles and emotional breakdowns of a group of teens that need a quick dose of reality in the new TV series “Brat Camps”.
    Brat camps are very similar to wilderness programs and some of them closely resemble the juvenile boot camps that have grown in popularity. Brat camps are considered by many to be good options for teens that have early signs of problems but have not become firmly attatched to negative influences and bad behavior. However, teens that have developed bad habits over long period of time would benefit more from long-term options that range from 12-18 months. Long-term options have the ability to replace bad habits with positive, constructive habits that will benefit the teen throughout their lives.
 Boot Camp Overview

Started as an alternative to jail for juvenile adolescents, there are serveral types of teen boot camps from state run to privately run where the teen will be mentally and physically challenged. These facilities can be a starting place for getting your teen help. In both the state and private environment the camps goal is to scare kids straight generally only giving a good short-term solution. Parents often seek out boot camps with the assumption that a “wake up call” is all that is needed for their troubled teen.

Boot Camps are often short-term, however, long-term boot camps have increased in popularity for their ability to help defiant adolescents improve their behavior at home and school. They are modeled after military-style, military exercises, and intense physical training focusing on reality, respect and responsibility. Many teens lack these qualities, yet they desperately need them in order to successfully transition into adulthood. This experience can help teens replace destructive attitudes and behaviors with new perspectives and direction in their lives. The theology behind a short-term camp being that a “quick reality check” will turn a child around who has been acting out. These boot camp style programs are usually ineffective for teens that have developed bad habits over a long period of time and are in need of long term change.
What is it like to be in a Teen Boot Camp?
A true teen boot camp will include uniforms, marching in formation as well as a “yes sir” and “no sir” mentality.  They will include a very structured environment that includes the trainers getting right in the face of the cadet. Barracks will be similar to those in the U.S. Military’s “basic training” program and will be authentic in areas including bunk beds, foot lockers and a very strict, no holes barred system of inspections that must be completed without error if the teen is to survive the ordeal, even for a short period of time.  Whether a child is able to handle this type of environment is actually a question that must be considered before a parent puts a struggling teen in the midst of these intense drill instructors and within the environment that does not permit any outside contact for a prescribed period of time. Parents should consider more than just if the cadet can survive. They should consider whether juvenile boot camps are the right choice for a troubled teen. It is clear that teens with behavioral problems that are beyond the scope of these environments should not be considered for teen boot camps.

Do Boot Camps Work?

    These type of programs are designed as a quick fix and may help a struggling teen with respect, obedience and appreciation. However, they are not a good long term option for teens that need help. Recidivism rates suggest that they are not a good solution for long term change.

Health and Safety Issues
    Health and Safety of your teen should be considered when choosing a juvenile boot camp. Boot camps have come under fire recently with health and safety issues. Some may attempt to push a child too much or may be to extreme with their in your face approach. Many choose to use too much military drill instructor techniques. While the drill sergeant may have success with military basic training cadets who have voluntarily gone to boot camp. Ex-drill sergeants may be ineffective with a struggling teen that is not as motivated as some one enrolled into the military.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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Why are International Abductions within the Family Increasing?


By: Safekids
Statistics from international child abduction charity suggest that international child abductions within the family have increased by 87% since 1995. The reasons for this may be many, but it is believed that a variety of factors have made international travel and residence much easier for most people. Reasons for this increase likely include:
  • A rise in the number of parents who break up with each other, including through divorce.
  • A rise in the number of people marrying foreign nationals (meaning that these partners will become parents with origins and possibly residences in other countries).
  • Cheaper international travel options, which allows more parents to purchase passage for themselves and their children to other countries.
  • Greater familiarity with immigration laws, which means that more people are aware of where and how they can work in other countries, particularly those in the European Union.

How Can Parents Guard their Children Against an International Abduction?

There are many things that a guardian parent can do to prevent their ex-partner from taking their children across international boundaries. Guardian parents can:

  • Obtain a court order as to the custody or residence of their children. If the child ordinarily resides in a specific country or was abducted from that country, a court order is necessary for it to be considered an abduction.
  • Prevent passports from being issued for their children. You will likely need an order of the court as well as this request in writing.
  • Tell the police of your suspicions.
  • Request a Port Warning or Port Alert in urgent/imminent circumstances. Only the police are able to issue such an alert, and only when there is good reason to believe that the child may be taken out of the country.
  • Contact a solicitor  to discuss their personal situation and transmit this information to the partner they believe may be thinking of abducting their children.

Child abduction within the family is a crime much like any other type of child abduction. If you fear that your child may be abducted by another family member, take necessary precautions to keep him/her safe, and if the worst does happen report the abduction immediately. Don’t hesitate, or you may regret the wait later.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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