Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nigeria/Cameroon: France Says "No" to Ransom Payment for French Family Kidnapped by Boko Haram

According to, Nigeria on Saturday (March 16) said no ransom would be paid for the release of a French family of seven who were kidnapped in Cameroon last month after talks between French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and his Nigerian counterpart, Olugbenga Ashiru.

The family, which includes four children under the age of 12, were kidnapped in Cameroon, near the northeastern border with Nigeria.

In a video posted online that depicted the hostages, the kidnappers said they were members of Boko Haram, although in Nigeria one often does not really exactly who the kidnappers are.

COMMENT: In addition to the French family of seven, a French engineer who was kidnapped in northern Nigeria's Katsina state back in December 2012, is also being held, reportedly by the Islamist group,  Ansaru.

Ansaru, a newer group, seems to mainly interested in targeting the expatriate community. It claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and execution of seven foreigners from Bauchi two weeks ago, that is still causing expats in the region to reel.

France has warned its citizens in the region of increased risk following the Paris-led campaign to flush Islamist rebels out of Mali.

Unfortunately, rarely do national governments go the extra step in telling their citizens how to cope with an increased risk, which is to do the following:

1. Reduce one's profile to the point so that outwardly no one can tell which country they're from;

2. Stop doing things according to a schedule: Be predictably UNpredictable;

3. Realize that you may well be a target of kidnappers. Thus, you must take steps to identify indicators that you are being followed or surveilled and do the opposite of what they expect you to do. Make it frustrating for them to know where you're going to be;

4. Realize that your spouse or children may also be targeted for a kidnapping which means they need to take the same steps that you're taking; and

5. Have a family kidnap plan that includes having photos of all family members, as well as recordings of their respective voices and fingerprints, as all of these may be valuable to those working on your rescue. Such a plan also includes paying a ransom yourself (providing you have the resources), asking family and friends to make donations or even offering a reward leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the kidnappers, although the latter is rarely effective. 

Most important is NEVER resist an organized kidnapping involving multiple armed persons. If you scream, yell or try to escape, thereby drawing attention to what is happening, you may increase the risk of injury or death to yourself, largely because the kidnappers don't want to be caught.