Kidnappings in the Philippines: “Run and we will kill you – Warren Rodwell`s Story


June 17 , 2013

Source: KRmagazine

At 6pm on December 5, 2011, 55-year-old Warren Rodwell, who was building a house on the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines, had downed tools for the day when four gunmen ambushed him

Warren Rodwell on his kidnapping in Philippines

“RUN and we will kill you.”

When Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell heard those words, he knew he was not simply under arrest.

Warren-Rodwell

It was 6pm on December 5, 2011. The 55-year-old, who was building a house on the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines, had downed tools for the day when four gunmen ambushed him

“I’d been on the phone and was just on the outside of the house in an enclosed area. Two guys came around one way pointing rifles at me and shot me in the hand. The other two came around from behind and handcuffed me,” he said.

“When he shot me I swore at him, then he said ‘police’ and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. It all happened too quickly.

“We had to walk two or three kilometres through rice fields. They were behind me trying to hit me with the butt of the rifle and kick me to move me. The guy said ‘run and we will kill you’.

“I was in front and by the time we eventually got to a river and into a boat, I realised I was being kidnapped.”

The gunmen wore military uniforms and their M16 rifles were plastered with police insignia.

The former Australian soldier knew to stay calm and do as he was told when they forced him into a stolen community boat. A similar vessel would carry him to freedom 15 months later.

THE PHILLIPINES

Sydney-born Rodwell lived a nomadic lifestyle. He had trotted the globe twice and seen about 50 countries when he decided to settle in one of the most dangerous parts of the world and marry Miraflor Gutang, 26 years his junior.

“I was looking at early retirement in the Philippines because it was halfway between China, where I’d been teaching for about 10 years, and Australia,” he said.

“I didn’t have a great deal of money but I’d saved some and this was one place that I could buy a bit of cheap land, put a house on it and it’d serve the purpose for my Filipino wife.”

His plan was for the couple to eventually split their time between the three countries, but by late November 2011 it began to unravel.

He separated from Ms Gutang and she moved back in with her parents. He continued working on their house, in what he said was considered a ‘safe area’.

Two weeks later, he was kidnapped.

bullet wounds

STAYING ALIVE

Within hours Rodwell realised the rebels who kidnapped him were untrained. After an hour on the boat one of the motors caught on fire and exploded.

“They were kicking the boards that were on fire on to me. Then they were throwing the diesel overboard. As soon as the first guy went overboard so did I. I was in the sea handcuffed. I thought I would drown,” he said.

He was pulled back on to the boat, which his captors then paddled for five hours to an island. It was then apparent they were lost.

“They moored the boat in behind a great big naval ship. The next day the army was there with their military helicopters so we had to hide from them for fear of being shot. Then they took me on an eight-hour boat trip that night. I had to change boats, then the smaller boat hit a rock and it looked like we were going to drown in this raging sea. It was like a movie.”

Filipino police have identified the al-Qaida linked group Abu Sayyaf as being involved in Rodwell’s kidnapping.

For the first three months in the jungle, he thought they were going to kill him.

“I very much so (thought I would die) from having my head cut off. I was going to go crazy thinking about it. I thought the best thing is, just accept it,” he said.

“A couple of times people would cock their weapon and threaten to shoot me and I’d just say ‘Go ahead you f…g idiot … I’m worth 10 million Philippine pesos ($AUD250,000) and you’re worth none so go ahead and shoot’.”

But Rodwell was not the only one who was nervous.

“We got caught at times on the mountains and below us would be civilians coming for water and above us would be the military patrols,” he said.

“The fear was that if the military found our camp, they’d just start shooting. They wouldn’t be looking for me. They’d just shoot anyone they could see.

“Sometimes there were civilians around because they’d come in to do illegal logging or we’d be near a mosque or school. Whenever our presence was found we’d move on. They couldn’t trust anyone because if there was another rebel group they’d try to steal me.”

As his life descended into disaster, Rodwell fought to control his mind by thinking about history, dates and numbers.

“That was the hardest thing of all,” he said. “I had no books or notepads but sometimes the newspaper would be brought in and I’d have my photo taken with it for proof of the date and I’d keep it. I didn’t have any reading glasses but I’d still read the whole newspaper.”

Despite his military experience as a field engineer in the 70s and his acquired survival skills, he never tried to escape.

“I had opportunities but you wouldn’t even call it an escape because there was nowhere I could go,” he said.

“Even if I did get away, the area is all controlled by Abu Sayyaf. That would be like jumping out of the frying pan. It wouldn’t be a smart move at all.”

CAPTIVITY

For the next 15 months Rodwell fought to stay sane amid the constant threat of being shot or beheaded.

He was moved between 30 different locations within the Basilan Islands as his captors tried to evade the military and other militant groups.

Most of the time he was cold and starving. At about 7pm each day, he would climb into his hammock with a roaring stomach.

But he ate as often as his captors. On a good day he was fed boiled rice but at times he went up to six weeks without proper food.

“A treat might have been a can of sardines shared with three or four others,” he said.

“Sometimes it might be one small piece of dried fish. If they added anything to the rice it was one thing only. Sometimes they’d add a shrimp or small prawn but it was pretty meagre.

“At times what I would do to flavour the boiled rice is I would use the conjunctivitis from my eyes because I don’t get much nourishment or taste out of boiled rice. When it goes two or three days of boiled rice only, that’s a lack of oxygen getting to my brain and I start getting headaches and disoriented.

“Some of the messengers that would come in were sympathetic towards me and they would smuggle in bananas and things like that.”

His captors also caught wild birds and cooked tree roots.

There was no sanitary and Rodwell went months without washing.

“I had a wash every three or four months with a bit of water out of a bottle,” he said.

“I did acquire a razor and I’d shave all of the hair off my body for cleanliness. That was a way to keep my body clean. It’s an old military trick. Then I wouldn’t get lice or anything.

“Going to the toilet was a problem with the broken hand. The guy would pour water down my back like you would with a baby.”

He spent about 10 weeks in the mountains and the rest of the time in mangrove swamps.

“At the beginning all I had was a pair of shorts but I acquired and stole some clothes. I’d use whatever I could. One sleeping bag was broken so I tore that and wrapped that around me,” he said.

“When I got transferred in boats they’d sometimes put a blanket around me so I’d steal that. I did end up eventually having a balaclava and then a Filipino army shirt.

“The big problem for most of the time was mosquitos. In the jungle swamps we’d be attacked quite ferociously.”

Warren-Rodwell-2

CAPTORS

Rodwell’s captors, who spoke no English, were child-like.

“The reason I was treated badly was because they don’t know how to look after themselves,” he said.

“Most of my captors were pretty good-hearted souls but being Muslims they’re not restricted by the 10 commandments. They just see it as anyone who’s foreign as having a market.

“This whole thing is a cottage industry. They’re all second and third generation. I only met one or two people who were jungle fighters. The rest were civilians, around 19-20 years old.”

During his time in captivity, Rodwell was guarded by about 100 different rebels.

Within weeks of his capture, his kidnappers began to soften and signs of Stockholm syndrome set in.

“I bonded enough with my guards that on December 31 they took the handcuffs off and gave me something to shave with,” he said.

“It was a bit scary. The only mirror I had was the handcuffs to look at and I could see all this grey hair appearing on my face.

“I had so many changes of guard that I’d recognise the behaviours in them. The married guy would be in tears because he’d miss his family. A couple of them went crazy.

“With others we’d listen to the noises in our stomach from hunger.”

RELEASE

When a ransom of $94,600 was paid on February 3 this year the captors kept their hostage.

“The delay was that between the different levels (of the group) some people were trying to do a side deal on their own,” he said.

“Apparently it was at the insistence of the vice governor that they must release me otherwise he wouldn’t help them in the future with any cases.”

Rodwell had been told on a number of occasions throughout the 15-month ordeal that he would soon be released.

“I believed no one. I didn’t build up hope. I became emotionless,” he said.

“I started suffering PTSD during the captivity and I started healing myself by analysing the situations a lot.”

Throughout, his militant captors released a series of “proof of life’’ videos as part of their ransom demands.

When the “proof of life” questions increased in frequency, he knew something was afoot.

“They were sending questions through every month instead of every two or three months. I also knew something was happening because I’d been moved very close to a fishing village,” he said.

“It was just a gut feeling and it was that weekend that I actually got released.”

As the tide went out on March 22 and darkness fell, Rodwell was put on a boat. After about two hours at sea, he was transferred to a smaller fishing boat and taken to shore.

“The fisherman paddled it to shore and told me to get out. I was told to start walking and say ‘please help me, please help me’.”

He was spotted by Pagadian wharf workers in the early hours of the next morning and taken to the local police station. It was now March 23 – his dead mother’s birthday.

He was then transported to the US military base at Zamboanga for treatment before being flown Manila to recuperate.

During this time he decided against a reunion with his Filipino wife.

“I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone because I know that when she does talk to me, sometimes it ends up being a heated debate trying to understand and communicate,” he said.

“When I’m dealing with the police and we’re doing interviews about the ordeal, I haven’t really got time for someone (breaking down on me). That’d be like being attacked by a wild animal in the dark.

“I also delayed speaking to my children and siblings for a few days because I wasn’t ready.”

Rodwell said he did not believe his estranged wife was involved in his abduction.

“These Filipinos just love to talk. It’s quite possible that with Miraflor, being a bit loose-lipped, that might have helped with the information being disseminated about me being a foreigner and where I was living. It’s just a lack of prudence but these things happen.”

RECOVERY

It has been 18 months since Rodwell was shot and his hand still hasn’t been operated on.

“I’m waiting to go on a waiting list,” he said. “I’ve already been rejected from one waiting list at the Royal Brisbane Hospital because it’s too long and I’m waiting to hear back from QEII hospital.”

He has been diagnosed with PTSD, has damaged nerve tracts in his lower legs and feet and chipped teeth from trying to open coconuts.

But amazingly, he says he is recovering well.

“I’m seeing a private psychologist. Everything is good. I don’t have nightmares. I’ve pulled up pretty well,” he said.

“At the moment I’m still alive and all things considered I’m quite functional.

“I don’t need to see the psychologist for another three months.”

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Kidnapping for ransom is spreading across the world


January 23, 2013

Source: qz.com

Investors and businesses in emerging markets increasingly have another thing to worry about: kidnapping for ransom.

kidnapping-graphic

What was once a crime associated mostly with Latin America is becoming worryingly common across the rest of developing world. “Over the last four, five years, kidnapping has become more global of a phenomenon,” says Jim Brooks, CEO of Control Risks. “It’s always happened globally, but now we’re seeing people exploit kidnapping as a means of revenue generation for whatever they’re doing.”

kidnapping_02

About 55% of the world’s recorded kidnaps-for-ransom in 2004 were in Latin America (Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela generally have some of the highest numbers). Last year, the region accounted for only a quarter of the incidents, and Asia and Africa made up over half. Ransoms average around $2 million, according to Greg Bangs of Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, but in some places like Sub-Saharan Africa they are as much as $60 million. See the list of the top 20 countries with the highest numbers of kidnapping cases here (p. 84).

Why are we seeing the spread of this trend? For one, places that have been recently destabilized are reporting more cases,  like the Middle East following the Arab Spring in 2011. Or foreign investment and travel by foreigners to new markets may simply be providing more kidnapping opportunities in more places. Brooks says, “I suspect it’s a variety of things from the global war on terror to higher economic challenges and increasing… knowledge and understanding of [kidnapping for ransom] as a criminal enterprise.”

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Kidnap threat grows as European economic woes continue


January 12, 2013

Source: commercialriskeurope

The 20,000 kidnappings reported worldwide annually represents a growing risk for business with the economic woes in Europe likely to see incidents rise in countries such as Greece and Italy, Willis warned this week.

kidnapping_02

In its Resilience publication, the broker said the actual number of kidnaps is likely to be far higher than the official figures suggest as many go unreported.

In hotspot Mexico there were over 2,000 kidnaps reported last year, but according to the Council for Law and Human Rights, an NGO that works with families of victims, the true figure is around 18,000.

Earlier this year global security company Red24 noted that official data showed a 9% increase in kidnapping incidents between 2010 and 2011.

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“The threat is growing, the risk is fluid and it can very easily move from one country to another,” said Richard Scurrell, Executive Director at Willis’ specialist kidnap-and-ransom division, Special Contingency Risks (SCR).

A number of factors are driving this increase, primarily inequalities in developing nations. “A lot of the countries where kidnaps occur regularly have a fantastically wealthy element of the population at the top, a very small middle class and a very large poor population,” explained Paul Mills, Executive Director of Security Services at SCR.

As the economic crisis in many parts of the world drags on, so more countries may match this profile, he continued.

Mexico, for example, saw a surge in kidnapping and extortion following the economic crash of 1994, and now Mr Mills fears the risk could return to European countries such as Greece or Italy, where it has not been a serious issue for decades.

“We have already seen incidents of high-net-worth individuals being attacked by more radical elements,” he said.

The growth in income inequality and increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of large multinational businesses is therefore a real issue for risk managers at big firms.

As Willis pointed out: “The latter’s workers make obvious targets for abduction; the former means a growing pool of potential perpetrators.” Kidnapping comes in various guises. Planned events, where perpetrators have watched their target and are well-organised, are distinct from opportunistic crimes, where the kidnapping is an afterthought to a robbery or carjacking.

The latter tend to result in lower ransom demands and shorter detentions, but also tend to be more unpredictable, meaning more danger for the victim.

Latin America continues to pioneer new methods, such as virtual kidnapping. In these instances kidnappers monitoring victims to learn their routines and perpetrators use this knowledge to extort money from families or employers by claiming to have kidnapped the victim when he or she is simply unreachable.

Whilst the majority of large companies in the developed world already have some form of kidnap and ransom coverage, said Mr Mills, many choose not to draw attention to such policies.

kidnapped

Coverage is often not disclosed to employees to stop them becoming targets. Employees can also commit fraud against companies.

“There have been various cases where individuals have apparently been kidnapped, only to be found later hiding out,” pointed out Mr Mills.

Willis argues that the kidnap and ransom coverage is ‘wide ranging’.

Policies usually cover not just the ransom (reimbursed, rather than paid directly by the insurer), but various other expenses involved such as travel costs, medical bills, rewards for informants and time away from work for those released-important considerations, given the length of time kidnapping cases can take to resolve, said the broker.

In addition to kidnapping, insurance also typically covers against extortion, wrongful detention and hijacking.

Added endorsements might include cover for loss of earnings, security costs in the case of threats, product losses as a result of extortion, and emergency repatriation.

Kidnap and ransom policies can also cover the costs of crisis-response consultants in the event of an incident. This is their real value, said Willis.

“The real value of these policies is in the resources that are brought to bear in the event of a kidnap,” said Mr Scurrell. “The overwhelming majority of multinational organisations can afford to pay a ransom, but they’re not likely to have the expertise and experience in-house to deal with a kidnapping.”

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Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 1


ABP World Group Child Recovery Services 


Imagine…

You are in the kitchen cooking dinner while your children are playing in your front yard. When you go outside to call them in, they are gone.

Imagine…

You drop off your child at school before work. When you arrive to pick her up in the afternoon you are told that someone else has already taken her.

Imagine…

You wait for your former spouse to return your son following a schedule weekend visit. When your child isn’t returned, you go to the other parent’s home only to discover that the apartment has been vacated.
The physiological response in each of these situations is the same. Your heart begins to pound and your adrenaline starts to surge through your veins as the realization dawns that your children are gone. In an instant your brain considers possible explanations, but they each defy logic. Your brain already knows what your heart is desperately trying to deny. Your children have been kidnapped.
There are few horrors that can rival the experience of having one’s child kidnapped. Movies and television shows sensationalize child abduction. The nightly news further distorts correct understanding of child abduction by only reporting on the most dramatic of cases, for example, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. There exists, however, a less-glamorous form of child abduction which is perpetrated by the child’s own parent.
Parental Kidnappings
Each year there are more than 350,000 child abductions in America. The vast majority of these kidnappings are perpetrated by one of the child’s parents. The official term for this type of crime is “parental child abduction”, but it is also referred to as a “child kidnapping” or “child snatching”. Regardless of the terminology, the fact that the child is taken by the other parent does not diminish or negate the raw emotional trauma inflicted upon the other parent.

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful abduction of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of their lawful custody of the child.  In divorce situations, the abductor may be the custodial or the non-custodial parent. This means that even if the abductor is the custodial parent or primary caregiver, if the abduction deprives the other parent of his or her court ordered visitation time then the custodial parent is guilty of parental child abduction.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted an intensive and thorough research study on child abduction in America. The project is called the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The section that focused specifically on children abducted by family members is called NISMART-2. This article extensively references the NISMART-2. The original study may be found at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org

Defining Parental Child Abduction

“For the purposes of NISMART-2, family abduction was defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.”
The NISMART-2 elaborates on the definition above by further defining the following terms:
  • Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact or visitation.
  • Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more difficult.
  • Intent to deprive indefinitely: Family member indicated intent to prevent contact with the child on an indefinite basis or to affect custodial privileges indefinitely.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Of the 203,900 parental child abduction cases studied, 57% were labeled as “caretaker missing”, meaning that the victimized parent did not know where the child was for at least 1 hour, became alarmed and searched for the missing child. However, the NISMART-2 reveals:
“It is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but for that child’s whereabouts to be fully known. Thus, a child can be abducted but not necessarily missing.”
In fact, the study found that 43% of the children kidnapped were not thought of as “missing” by the victimized parent because the child’s whereabouts were known to the victim parent.
“Although the family abductions described in this study typically had certain disturbing elements such as attempts to prevent contact or alter custodial arrangements permanently, they did not generally involve the most serious sorts of features associated with the types of family abductions likely to be reported in the news. Actual concealment of the child occurred in a minority of episodes. Use of force, threats to harm the child and flight from the State were uncommon. In contrast to the image created by the word ‘abduction,’ most of the children abducted by a family member were already in the lawful custody of the perpetrator when the episode started. In addition, nearly half of the family abducted children were returned in 1 week or less.”
Even if the child is not considered missing, the abduction is still considered child abuse because of the damage that it inflicts upon the child. The NISMART-1 found that, “family abduction can result in psychological harm to the child” and the NISMART-2 states that “family abductions constitute an important peril in the lives of children it is important to remember that the potential harm to family abducted children exists whether or not they are classified as missing”.

Characteristics of Parental Abductions

Location and Season. 73% of parental abductions took place in the child’s own home or yard, or in the home or yard of a relative or friend. Children were removed from schools or day care centers in only 7% of the cases. In 63% of the cases, the children were already with the abductor in lawful circumstances immediately prior to the abduction.

Police Contact. In 40% of all cases, the aggrieved parent did not contact the police to report the abduction. The study found a number of reasons for this, but the majority of responses indicated that the parent did not believe that the police would intervene in the matter because the child’s whereabouts were known, they were in the care of a legal guardian, and it did not appear that the child was being harmed. The highest percentage of abductions took place during the summer.

Ages. 45% of abductors were in their 30’s. 44% of abducted children were younger than age 6.
Indicators of serious episodes. “The use of threats, physical force, or weapons was relatively uncommon in family abductions.” 17% were moved out of State with the intent to make recovery more difficult. 44% were concealed, at least temporarily, from the victimized parent-+. 76% included attempts to prevent contact. 82% included intent to permanently affect the custodial privileges of the aggrieved parent.

Conclusion

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.
When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

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Celebrities – Stalking and Kidnapping


Sourse: Valerie Ferrari

We hear so much about the paparazzi sticking cameras in celebrities’ faces and stalking them for days just for a photo or two and how sick celebrities are of being hounded in this obnoxious fashion.

Paparazzi harassment, however, pales in comparison to kidnapping threats. Celebrities must ever be on their guard against threats against them and their families. They must be sure to have extraordinary security measures in place at all times to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In 2005, a painter employed on David Letterman’s ranch in Montana hatched a plan to kidnap Letterman’s baby son and his nanny. Kelly A. Frank, 43, was caught before he could execute the despicable plan because he confided the plot to a man who in turn told the police. Frank said he had a key to the house and knew where the baby slept. He intended to kidnap the nanny so she could take care of the child until he collected a $5 million dollar ransom.

Frank was sentenced to 10 years in jail in a plea bargain. David Letterman was stalked for years prior to this by a deranged fan, Margaret Ray, who believed they were married. She continually broke into his home in Connecticut house. Margaret Ray was sent to prison, where she served 10 months and, after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she served 14 months in a mental institution. She later committed suicide at age 46.

Madonna was forced to cancel a concert in 2004 when she received corresponding threatening her children, Lourdes and Rocco. The correspondence contained details that badly frightened Madonna since she readily discerned that her home and staff were being watched.

In 2001, Australian actor Russell Crowe, of Gladiator fame, was informed by the FBI that they were taking a kidnap threat against him seriously and insisted upon accompanying him to the Academy Awards to protect him. Crowe later revealed that the threats came from al-Qaeda.

That’s just a mere sampling of plots that were discovered before any harm could be done. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In 1985, Julio Iglesias’ father, Julio Iglesias, Sr., was kidnapped by Basque terrorists and held captive for 2 weeks, repeatedly threatened with death. Spanish police were able to rescue him unharmed one day before the ransom money was to be paid. The incident was far from over for the Iglesias family. The singer’s father was deeply traumatized and suffered for a long time after the rescue.

In 1973, John Paul Getty III, the grandson of billionaire John Paul Getty, was kidnapped by the Italian Red Brigades in Rome and held in the Calabrian Mountains. His father did not have enough money to pay the $17 million ransom demand, and while his rich grandfather initially refused to help. John Paul Getty did not wanting to give in to the kidnapper’s demands and reportedly said: “I have 14 other grandchildren, and if I pay one penny now, then I will have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” Several weeks later, when one of his grandson’s ears arrived in an Italian newspaper’s mail, he agreed to help. John Paul Getty III’s life continued to deteriorate after his return. He later took a mixture of prescription drugs that put him a 6-week coma and left him paralyzed and blind.

Celebrities pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to take every imaginable security precaution, including 24-hour bodyguards, to deal with the ever-present spectre of kidnapping and stalking. They cannot know what goes on in the minds of the deranged and criminal in every instance, and, tragically, as the John Lennon murder case illustrates, sometimes the attacker can appear in a non-threatening situation that then turns deadly.

Published by ABP World Group Ltd. Security Solutions
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Abducted: Man sees sons in Egypt after abduction by ex-wife


Source: Dalje.com

CAIRO, Jan. 17 (UPI) — A U.S. man visited his two sons in Cairo during the weekend, the first time he had seen them since they were abducted by his ex-wife .


Colin Bower was granted full custody of his children in 2008 after his divorce from ex-wife Mirvat El Nady. Using fake Egyptian passports she kidnapped the boys in New York and brought them to Cairo, the Egyptian Bikya Masr news agency reported.

Egypt has no legal arrangement with the U.S. in matters of parental abduction, and it was six months of diplomatic negotiation, aided by U.S. Senator John Kerry, which provided Bower a chance to see his sons Noor, 7, and Ramsy, 9.

He called the 90-minute visit a “godsend.” U.S. Embassy officials and his ex-wide were present to observe the visit.

Bower said he suspects his ex-wide and her family were protected by former president Mubarak’s regime, allowing his sons to stay in Egypt with their mother. In 2009 he took legal action against the airline EgyptAir for their failure to notice his ex-wife and sons used false identification when they flew out of New York.

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Tiger Kidnap – The Threat To The Financial Sector


Tiger kidnappers are usually able to coerce their victims into unlocking doors, entering the right codes in vaults and even warning them of special secret security measures.

‘Someone will be killed’

Although no relative has ever been murdered in such a situation, the thought in the back of the victim’s mind is enough to coerce them into co-operating with the gang.

“The increase in the rate of tiger kidnappings within recent years is believed to be attributable to a hardening of physical security standards while overlooking the important human factor.”

Mr Lewry  at Control Risks says the media under-reports tiger kidnappings, usually because the police and security companies are not keen to highlight the problem.

He says it is wrong to think only managers of banks and cash depots are vulnerable, pointing to tiger kidnappings involving jewellers, supermarket managers and even McDonald’s staff.

Mr Lewry says victims are usually terrified and traumatised, and rarely return to the workplace afterwards.

He adds it is very hard to combat tiger kidnappings.

“One way is to have a system whereby more than one person needs to be present for a door or a vault to open, but even then if someone’s family has been kidnapped, they will do everything they can to persuade their colleague to come in and help them.”

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Intelligence available to Crime and Security, the force’s intelligence department, indicates that gangs from Finglas and Coolock were trained in the use of military firearms and surveillance while attending a bodyguarding course in eastern Europe. They enrolled on the private military courses using the internet.

“A handful of suspects have attended bodyguarding and weapons courses taught by former commandos in the eastern bloc. These courses are usually offered to people who want to become bodyguards. They teach everything from how to use guns to counter-surveillance. Some courses train students in how to deal with armed confrontations,” said one security source.

“In this case, they are effectively training for kidnappings and armed robberies, and the day when they will encounter an armed response unit.”

Detectives have long suspected that certain criminals had received military or special-forces training. Kidnap victims taken in recent tiger raids have told investigating gardai that raiders operated in a military-style fashion and didn’t seem to panic when confronted with problems.

One witness described her captors as operating in such cohesion that she likened them to a Swat team. Other kidnap victims have made statements saying their captors worked as a close unit and were notably polite to them.

Another feature in several of the raids was the absence of CCTV footage of the suspects, leading detectives to conclude the culprits had been trained in counter-surveillance.

Gang members have also shown themselves to be more than adept at departing from crime scenes without leaving DNA traces.

The suspicion that Irish criminals have received firearms training poses a serious problem for specialist garda teams like the elite emergency response unit, which is tasked with combating armed gangs. It has also forced gardai to re-evaluate the threat posed by some gangs in the Dublin region.

Gardai believe the criminals enrolled on courses by booking over the internet. Private firearms and bodyguarding courses are advertised widely on the internet and in security publications.

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Course attendance fees range from €4,000 to €25,000 depending on the tuition provided. Former commandos retired from the Croatian and Serbian armies act as course tutors. There is no indication that the course operators are aware of the ultimate intentions of their clients.

Modules for most courses include firearms instruction, counter-surveillance and siege situations. Students are also permitted to use a variety of weapons including Uzi submachine guns and semi-automatic revolvers while being drilled in firearms and shooting techniques.

There have been about ten tiger kidnapping in the past ten months, netting a few gangs in excess of €2.5m. Among the high-profile raids was the theft of €800,000 from the Permanent TSB in Coolock, Dublin.

A gang held the manager’s family hostage overnight before forcing her to hand over the cash.

Michael McDowell, the justice minister, has warned banks against co-operating with kidnappers. McDowell has told financial institutions that if they pay a ransom to gangs involved in tiger robbery kidnappings, they are endangering people’s lives.

Source: BBC and The Sunday Times

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Mexico’s kidnapping nightmare


In 2008, a thousand people were kidnapped in Mexico according to official data, though the real figure is claimed to be at least three times more, and the phenomenon is increasing dramatically.

Three years ago, Hugo Wallace was kidnapped. Kidnappers wanted his money so they led him into a trap and killed him.

And Hugo Wallace is not an isolated case. In Mexico, kidnapping is big business. As France and Mexico negotiate the case of Florence Cassez, a French woman convicted of kidnapping, FRANCE 24 takes you to a country were over a thousand were kidnapped last year.

In Mexico, a country rife with corruption, our reporters met the victims as well as the authorities who are meant to be fighting this plague. Families who have a lost a member to kdinapping assaults must cope with an inefficient and sometimes complicit police.

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