Friday, December 21, 2012

Nigeria: French Engineer Reportedly Kidnapped By Extremists Possibly Linked to al-Qaeda

A group of at least 30 gunmen stormed a residence in Rimi, in northern Nigeria, on Wednesday night (December 19), killing a security guard and neighbor of a French engineer and subsequently abducting the Frenchman.  

The engineer, a contractor for the French renewable energy firm, Vergnet SA, appeared to have been the target. The incident occurred not far from  Katsina. 

Four South Koreans and a Nigerian working for South Korea-based Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. were also abducted on Monday (December 17). 

It is noteworthy to point out that the majority of kidnap victims in North Africa are French citizens, largely because of their regional influence and the fact that they are in the greatest numbers.

COMMENT: Generally speaking, it is rare  for such a visible, huge group of gunmen to be involved in the kidnapping of a foreign business executive. 

No group has claimed responsibility for the engineer's kidnapping as yet, but it is suspected that one of two groups might be responsible for the kidnapping: 

Nigeria's Boko Haram, which wants sharia law instituted throughout Nigeria; 

Or, more probably, rebels from Mali and/or Niger, influenced dramatically by splinter groups of al-Qaeda. 

It is very likely that for reasons that are unavailable to us, the kidnappers assembled such a large kidnap force, unless, of course, that were anticipating an armed resistance.   

In May 2011, a Briton and an Italian kidnapped in Nigeria were abducted and executed ten months later, as a rescue force made up of British and Nigerian commandos converged on the site where the two men were being held.   

The abduction of the two Europeans occurred when kidnappers stormed Chris McManus' apartment, kidnapping him alongside Franco Lamolinara, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) from where the French engineer, was kidnapping, suggesting the considerable logistics support and broad operating range of the kidnappers. 

Needless to say, any foreign employees of multinational companies should afford their expatriate staffs formidable levels of personal security at the office, at home and when being transported from one place to another, given the increasing risk of ransom kidnapping. Such companies should also seriously consider kidnap ransom and extortion insurance.