When your loved one is kidnapped


September 25, 2013

Source: Daily Life

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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.

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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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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.
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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.

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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.

 

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Risk Management – Kidnapping Gangs Shift from Venezuela-Colombia Border


May 21, 2013

Source: insightcrime.org

Binational kidnapping gangs made up of Colombians and Venezuelans are spreading from the border states into central Venezuela, fuelling a trend that has seen Venezuela overtake Colombia as a kidnapping hotspot.

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Over the course of a week,Venezuelan courts sentencedseven Colombians and one Venezuelan to prison for kidnapping in the central state of Yaracuy, while an alleged kidnapping gang consisting of four Venezuelans and one Colombian was broken up in the border state of Tachira.

According to police sources cited by El Nacional, the cases are part of a trend that in recent months has seen Colombian and Venezuelan kidnappers working together both in western and central Venezuela. According to the newspaper, there have also been reports of binational gangs in the Capital District and the states of Merida and Zulia, near the border.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last decade, Venezuela and Colombia have been on opposite trajectories when it comes to kidnapping. In 2012, Colombia recorded 85 percent less kidnappings than in 2002, when the country was renowned as the world’s kidnapping capital. In contrast, kidnapping in Venezuela rose by an estimated 430 percent between 1999 and 2011 (although statistics from Venezuelan should be approached cautiously, as a lack of trust in official figures has led to organizations using estimates rather than the officially reported numbers). In 2012, there were 1,970 kidnappings in Venezuela, according to a study by criminologist Fermin Marmol Garcia, compared to 305 in Colombia.

The Venezuela-Colombia border is a hive for criminal activity, much of it fuelled by the cross-border operations of narco-paramilitary groups such as the Rastrojos. Colombian guerrilla groups like the FARC and the ELN are know to conduct kidnapping operations in Colombian border states like Arauca, then move their victims into Venezuela, where the ransom is then collected. The general atmosphere of lawlessness in this border region has almost certainly contributed to the growth of binational kidnapping rings, including those which are now reportedly moving away from the frontier states and more deeply into Venezuelan territory.

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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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.

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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

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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.

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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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