When your loved one is kidnapped


September 25, 2013

Source: Daily Life

Nigel_Brennan

 

Nigel Brennan was held hostage in Somalia and later freed after his family paid a randsom. Photo: TIMBAUERPHOTO.COM

In 2008 my brother Nigel was abducted while working in Somalia alongside Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout. I picked up the phone and spoke to the kidnappers when they rang to deliver the first ransom message and so I fell into the role of next of kin negotiator (the NOK). After establishing who I was, and my relationship with Nigel, they demanded $US 1.5 million for his safe release. The situation still seems surreal.

Over time, and with the assistance of some wonderful local Queensland police negotiators, I was actively trained to take the calls. The AFP moved into my parents’ house and I was taught to negotiate with the kidnappers by responding to a series of ‘what if‘ mock phone calls in anticipation of a real call from the kidnappers.

Initially I was fearful of the calls coming in, lest I say something wrong or hear something horrible happen to Nigel. Dealing with the situation affected my home life and all social engagements. From the kids’ soccer parties or going out to dinner, everything revolved around time zone differences with Somalia.

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Footage of Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan, the two foreign journalists kidnapped near Somalia’s capital. Screened on the Arabic Al Jazeera news service.

As the AFP and the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) increased their negotiations, they decreased my contact with the kidnappers and, in turn, Nigel. The AFP implemented a strategy of deliberately not talking to the kidnappers and we were not allowed to be involved in this decision.

After a while, the authorities took phone duties off me all together. I had no contact at all anymore with either Nigel or the kidnappers. We became desperate to hear Nigel’s voice to get any proof of life. No matter how awful the calls had been, at least we knew he was alive when we were receiving them. ‘Was he alive?’ was the constant unknown that hung over everything I did.

Friends cautioned me over the obsessive behavior that came with trying to get Nigel home. They were justified –Nigel was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep and the first think I thought of when I woke up.

It had a huge impact on my relationship with my husband as I was effectively working full time on getting Nigel home. My husband had to be parent, home keeper and breadwinner all in one. I really was an absentee parent in my children’s lives at this stage and I’m very fortunate that they love Nigel dearly and could understand why it took my all.

The Australian government has a strict no ransom policy, though if a family has the means, they will negotiate on your behalf – though they refuse to allow you to offer any more than US$250,000.

We had raised half a million dollars to contribute ourselves when the government told us that they could no longer assist us if we were willing to provide that amount as a ransom. This news came 11 long months into Nigel’s ordeal.

Despite the government’s assurances they were doing all they could, other captives in Somalia that had been taken later than Nigel were being released, including Nigel’s Somalia colleagues.

After tracking down a phone number through friends of friends I spoke to one of the released kidnap victims and discovered there was an alternative to government channels – there were international risk management companies that specialised in kidnap and ransom.

My family members launched themselves into trying to find a company that would help us and even though the government actually uses these companies themselves, they were not forthcoming with names. After some long late night international calls we found some one who we thought could pull it off.

My sister-in-law and I flew to Canada to see him and try to get the Canadian family to come on board, as you cannot only get one kidnap victim out at a time – it’s an almost certain death penalty for the one left behind.

During our meeting John (our kidnap and ransom specialist) told us the average length of a kidnapping is three months. By this point, Nigel had been captive for almost four times this length of time. He suspected ours might take a little bit longer as we were in effect starting from scratch and had been affected by considerable government ‘noise’.

The change in direction was profound. Yes, we were paying a ransom, but for the first time there was a feeling of control. I was back to negotiating directly with the kidnappers and not feeling as worried about the calls as I had been initially.

Even when we received a torture phone call, John had helped us to prepare for the worst. He had mapped out a plan as to how the negotiations would work and for the first time since the whole ordeal began, things actually started working to plan.

After four months with John on board, including a trip to Nairobi for final negotiations and one failed recue attempt where we flew the extraction team and money in and back out again, Nigel was finally freed. Skinny, bearded and possibly changed forever – but free.

NNP~ArtistsNCH

 

Nicky Bonney and her brother Nigel Brennan are guests on SBS’s Insight program on SBS ONE which explores what happens when Australians are kidnapped overseas. Host Jenny Brockie hears from those who have been held hostage, as well as families and kidnap and ransom negotiators who discuss the delicate process of hostage negotiation and debate the Australian Government’s ‘no ransom’ policy.

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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.

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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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Anti-kidnap programme for Antwerp diamond companies


June 25 , 2013

Source: timesofindia

Diamantaires in the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, who have their trading offices in Antwerp, have welcomed the move by Antwerp World Diamond Centre’s (AWDC) security office and Antwerp police to launch an integrated anti-tiger kidnapping programme for diamond companies in Antwerp.

diamonds

The programme, designed exclusively for diamantaires, especially Gujarati diamantaires on the radar of Italian mafia, would give a thorough understanding and help regarding the so-called tiger kidnapping. The event will take place on June 27 at Diamantclub Antwerpen, the Antwerp Diamond Club.

Sources said a tiger kidnapping, or tiger robbery, involves two separate crimes. The first crime usually involves an abduction of a person. Instead of demanding money, the captors demand that a second crime be committed on their behalf, such as a theft. The person held hostage is kept by the captors until their demands are met.

There have been a number of crimes in Antwerp where criminals have taken members of the families of diamantaires hostage and demanded that the company owner or employee go to the office and bring back diamonds or cash.

Antwerp-Diamonds

The Indian origin population in Belgium, mainly Gujarati, numbers about 14,000, of whom 5,000, belonging to 600 families, are in the diamond trade. Some years ago, Jewish traders made up 80 per cent of the business, with Indians accounting for 20 per cent. It is understood these positions have now reversed.

Diamonds are crucial to Belgium’s economy and to the gems trade in Surat and Mumbai, with which the Indian traders, mostly of Gujarati origin, have close links.

The diamond trading quarter of Antwerp is well protected but this is not always the case with the homes of the traders, though some do tend to employ private guards.

In 2010 and 2012 respectively, two diamond heists were reported in Antwerp where Gujarati diamantaires of the DTC sightholder companies-Kiran Gems and Karp Impex-were targeted by armed robbers.

Antwerp_Diamond-Security

In both the diamond heists, the gang members had held the family members of diamantiares hostage in the house at gunpoint and the diamantaires were asked to bring the polished diamond stock from the safe vaults and their offices. Dinesh Navadia, president, Surat Diamond Association, who is in Antwerp, said, “The diamantaires here are happy with the AWDC programme against tiger kidnapping. This will provide a sense of safety and security to the diamantaires.”

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The Philippines – Forces intensify anti-kidnap drive


June 2, 2013

Source: krmagazine.com

Dismantling the network and neutralizing key leaders of kidnap-for-ransom groups are key to ending abductions in Western Mindanao, security officials said

Forces intensify anti-kidnap drive

Anti-kidnapping

Sr. Supt. Edwin S. de Ocampo, chief of the city police, said his office has intensified its intelligence gathering drive in tracking down key leaders of kidnapping groups.

“There is a fusion of information from the police and military intelligence units to track down leaders of this KFR (kidnap-for-ransom) groups,” he told BusinessWorld yesterday.

On Sunday, four members of a kidnap-for-ransom group based in nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province were nabbed in a shopping mall in this city.

Mr. de Ocampo said the police are monitoring the movements of the group for weeks with the suspects having standing warrants of arrest.

On Wednesday, another suspect was also apprehended in the town of Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“These people are plain bandits. They are not members of any known kidnap groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group. Some are rogue members of insurgency groups,” said Mr. de Ocampo.

MILITARY OPTION
On a parallel effort, officials of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) said continuing operations have been ordered to capture Abu Sayyaf leaders in the island-provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Philippines-warren-rodwell

“There will be no letup in our efforts to neutralize these lawless groups,” Rodrigo T. Gregorio, spokesman of the command, said in a separate interview.

Military operations have been intensified following the intense battle between soldiers and the Sawadjaan faction of the Abu Sayyaf last Saturday. At least seven soldiers, including an officer, were killed in the encounter.

Mr. Gregorio said bandit casualties have reached 13 based on intelligence as of Thursday.

He said “continuing” military operations will deter kidnapping.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, European birdwatchers Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra, Filipino-Chinese Carlos Ty Tiam, Japanese Toshio Ito and an unnamed child.

For his part, WesMinCom chief Maj. Gen. Rey C. Ardo said the military is putting pressure on the bandits while making sure the kidnap victims are safe.

“The safety of the victim is our utmost priority,” he said.

On Wednesday, the US and the British embassies have issued separate travel advisories to their citizens to avoid Western Mindanao, including Zamboanga Peninsula, due to threats of kidnapping.

“We will not take it [advisories] for granted,” Mr. de Ocampo said, adding that authorities have laid out a new security plan.

Col. Andrelino G. Colina, commander of Task Force Zamboanga, said “proactive” measures are needed to stall kidnapping activities, including gathering of information from within the criminal groups.

Although most of the current victims are foreigners, kidnappers are no longer selective in the target victims to include teachers, aid workers and small-time businessmen.

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Companies Overlooking Most Crucial Part of Kidnap & Ransom Insurance


May 21, 2013

Source: Sacbee

Full protection comes from choosing an experienced crisis response firm with specific skills, says Lockton Report.

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 16, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — The ransom and extortion industry is lucrative and the danger zone has expanded well beyond Central and South America, yet companies tend to downplay the importance of a Kidnap & Ransom insurance policy.

Kidnap-Ransom

Too often, companies complete an insurance application, choose the lowest price, and file it away without giving much thought to the decision that can make all the difference on the safety of their staff. A new report by Lockton explains how to choose a crisis response firm so that K&R insurance offers not only protection, but also preparedness in the event of a kidnapping.

The report, authored by Lockton’s Michal Gnatek and entitled Out the Shadows: Selecting Your Kidnap & Ransom Partners,” identifies ransom and extortion industry trends and danger zones. Gnatek then reviews a process for securing K&R coverage and vetting crisis response teams to ensure a comprehensive insurance program.

“We recommend that insureds focus on the back room: the crisis response firm that will be on the other end of the phone when the need arises,” Gnatek said. “They should have extensive language capabilities and a good history of successful negotiations, among other things.”

After choosing a crisis response team, Lockton recommends companies work with their insurance broker to select the insurer who can meet their needs. There are many factors to consider, including the relationship between the insurer and the chosen crisis response firm. An experienced insurance professional can provide guidance throughout the process.

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Tiger Kidnapping and family hostage situations


April 6 2013

Tiger Kidnapping is an extremely stressful crime whereby criminals abduct a member of staff’s family (often a child) and threaten them with harm unless the employee attends their work place, removes a large sum of money then delivers it into the hands of the criminal.

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It’s called ‘Tiger Kidnapping’ because of the way the criminals stalk their victims for some considerable amount of time before the kidnap attack and robbery takes place.

Tiger Kipnapping occurs frequently in Europe

here has also been an increase in Tiger Kidnap offences in England, Scotland and Wales, with some high profile cases attracting media attention because of the scale of loss.

To fully understand the methods and impact on the victims, it’s worth looking at these cases as reported in the media:-

BBC: The Securitas raid followed a classic tiger kidnapping. So what can be done about it?

Mum and her Four-year-old Son Kidnapped for Ransom Demand

Father and son held captive in 11-hour tiger kidnap ordeal by armed gang in cash van heist

The tiger kidnapping  

Preventing Tiger Kidnap

Executive_Protection

Three areas you may choose to cover off to prevent Tiger Kidnapping are:-

Physical Security – Use of Drop Safes means that no one person has access to to the cash at any one time. Use time locks on the outer safe. Ensure good CCTV covers cash holding areas, and this is monitored for signs of unusual activity.

Adequate Processes and Procedures – Make it impossible for one single person on their own to access cash (dual key doors etc). Strictly enforce access and key controls, and ensure segregation of duties. E.g Store Keyholders don’t have access to the safe. Severely restrict the number of employees who can access cash areas. Have cash operation confidentiality policies backed by disciplinary action.

Situational Awareness – Potentially vulnerable staff and managers are made aware of Tiger Kidnapping, how to spot the likely surveillance which precedes it, and action to take if they see suspicious activity.

The above is intended as a very basic guide. For far more detailed advice and research see the resources below.

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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.”

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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.”

Note:

For the CAC course (Conduct after Capture) contact ABP World Group. The objective of this course is to better prepare civilians for a kidnap/hostage situation and improve their chances of getting home alive.

 

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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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Kidnap and extortion


Source: SOCA

The threat of kidnap continues to concern UK communities, law enforcement, and commerce and industry throughout the world. This is despite the fact that the UK is acknowledged by the United Nations as a world leader in reducing the harm caused by kidnap and blackmail offences. High profile kidnaps abroad cause harm at international, community and regional level. 

During 2008/09, police forces reported 2,034 kidnappings to the Home Office, a slight increase (2%) on 2007/08. Nonetheless, in recent years the overall trend in reported kidnaps is downward and the current figure is almost 30% less than in 2001/02 (2,795).  In practice, however, the true kidnapping figures are unknown.

Different types of kidnap

It’s likely that many kidnaps go unreported, as often the hostage and the person subject to the kidnappers’ demands are themselves criminals and have no wish to involve the law. These “vendetta kidnaps” generally revolve around debt disputes, for example linked to drug deals.

“Tiger kidnaps” involve the holding of a hostage, usually a close relative of the victim, to force the victim to facilitate a robbery.

Kidnappings abroad

Overseas, UK nationals are at greater risk of kidnap in areas of recent conflict or instability. There has also been an increase in the kidnapping of foreign nationals, for example in Pakistan, with ransom demands being made to overseas family members, including those in the UK.

In South Africa, criminals commit fraud by deceiving people to invest in items such as scrap metal and then lure victims to the country to be kidnapped to obtain ransom money. This technique has previously been associated with criminals in west Africa, including Nigeria.

Extortion / blackmail

Blackmail covers a multitude of criminal activities, including product contamination, and uses threats to get money, although other demands may also be made.

As with kidnaps, the true extent of blackmail and extortion offences (including “protection rackets”) by serious organised criminals is not known.  Fear, and damage to reputation in the case of retail businesses, may make victims unwilling to report instances.

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China Briefing: Kidnapping Attempts on Foreign Schoolkids in Beijing


Foreign schoolchildren are the potential new targets in child kidnapping cases following an incident at one of Beijing’s luxury compounds this past weekend.

On Saturday afternoon at approximately 4:30 p.m., the student was outside the side exit of the Yosemite Villa Estate and a man, unknown to her, came towards her and gave her a hug. She pushed him away but he then attempted to lift her up and drag her into his car. Fortunately a guard and a taxi driver stepped forward to help her and she safely returned home. The incident has been reported to the police for further investigation … The suspect is described as a 30-40 year old Chinese man of average height and build, short (buzz) haircut, frame-less glasses, wearing a dark-colored jacket and pants, and driving a small dark-colored car.

It’s not just children. There have been reported cases of kidnappers targeting women driving expensive cars. BJ is no different than any major city. Where I come from, car jacking is not unusual. You should always be on alert and pay attention to your surroundings.

Yes it is true and this is not the first time this happend. Young woman I know was attacked by a man in the city. She is rather tall and could get away but can tell you that she still “carries” it with her.
And another kidnap attempt happend near the Yashow. Her friend could help her and also there was a little van approaching them with open door.

It made me more allert and even it is a boy, still foreigner, my 14 year old boy is (was) not allowed to go to town in the evening or during day by himself by taxi. But now not even by himself in the neighbourhood. I know it must be possible to do so but I am very glad he understands my concerns and he deals with this without any comment. Only the idea that they take you child…
And I agree with Esther we all have to be allert why should this not happen in Beijing while it happens everywere else in the world.
It does not mean we must be scared to go out of the house but just be allert.

According to the China Briefing post, a few schools have issued warnings to parents and have offered some advice on what to do in such situations. Click here to read more.

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