Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tip of the Day: How Not to Be a Victim of Kidnapping, Hostage-Taking Abroad

According to http://www.listtoptens.com, this website lists the top ten countries for kidnapping, hostage-taking and abduction.

Yet http://www.listtoptens.com curiously omits the United States, which at least anecdotally, is significant in the below categories:
  • Ransom kidnapping, international
  • Ransom kidnapping, domestic
  • Child abduction, international
  • Child abduction, domestic
  • Child abduction, non-custodial, international
  • Child abduction, non-custodial, domestic
  • Child abduction, custodial (between parents), international
  • Child abduction, custodial (between parents), domestic
  • Child abduction, sexual exploitation, international
  • Child abduction, sexual exploitation, domestic
  • Adult abduction, sexual exploitation, international
  • Adult abduction, sexual exploitation, domestic
  • Adult abduction, non-sexual exploitation, international
  • Adult abduction, non-sexual exploitation, domestic
  • Politically motivated acts of terrorism, international, resulting in a hostage-taking or abduction
  • Politically motivated acts of terrorism, domestic, resulting in a hostage-taking or abduction
Despite the size and broad-based criminal statutes that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and hundreds of other federal agencies that enforce Title 18 statutes that the FBI is not responsible for, statistical transparency in the US are long overdue.

Unfortunately, given the fact that the US federal governmental bureaucracy is so cumbersome, redundant and functions at countless cross-purposes, there is no comprehensive criminal database that captures comprehensive nature of all forms of  abduction categories.

As a small example of the magnitude and numbers involved in child-related abduction and exploitation, see:


The http://www.listtoptens.com website list includes:

10th place: Colombia

9th place: Haiti

8th place: México

7th place: Venezuela

6th place: India

5th place: Pakistan

4th place: Nigeria

3rd place: Iraq

2nd place: Somalia

1st place: Afghanistan

I generally agree with http://www.listtoptens.com's top ten kidnapping countries with the strong exception of Colombia being on the top ten list as well as the United States given the shear numbers of hostage-takings and abduction both domestically and abroad.

10th Place: Colombia: While assigned to the US Department of State's Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance (DS/ATA) as a division chief during 2002-2006, I had the opportunity and pleasure of being involved in a technical assistance project aimed at assisting the Colombian government in revamping its criminal code, reducing both politically-motivated and ransom kidnapping and assisting in the development of the regional anti-kidnapping units known as the Gaulas:


Given the fact that Colombia had 3,572 reported abductions in the year 2000 and reduced their abductions to 250 in 2013 suggests that such a significant record is noteworthy that Colombia become the recipient of the World's Most Significant Reduction in Abduction Award, bar none.

9. Haiti
Haiti is among the countries, most conscious about their repute as one of the country with highest kidnappings. The children kidnap cases in Haiti are so widespread. There was a peak in kidnappings in Haiti in 2004-2006 but now it has been reduced significantly.  The Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti says that the current rate is still very high and kidnappings are so frequent.

8. México
This country has a high kidnapping rate as it borders the US. The council for Law and Human rights reported 72 kidnappings in México a day. This report contradicts the statement by federal police in México who have stated that there are only 4.5 kidnappings per day. The big problem in México is about providing the security to its citizens which is an explanation as to why corruption within the federal police is so high. 

7. Venezuela
During the first five months of 2012, 583 kidnappings were recorded in the first five months.  Still 80% of the kidnapping go unreported. 

6. India
Kidnapping in India has increased by 50% in recent years. As the expanding economy continues to attract multinational corporations, the kidnapping of multinational execs continues to rise.  Kidnap-ransom extortion insurance coverage is very popular.

5. Pakistan
The Taliban and insurgents are responsible for the majority of ransom kidnappings in India, most of which occur because of political objectives. Also, criminals also engage in wholesale kidnapping of foreigners unrelated to the Taliban and insurgents largely because they are able to demand large ransoms from tourists who continue to flood the nation. As I have said so often in the past, I strongly discourage all tourists from traveling to Pakistan. This applies to all nationalities.

4. Nigeria
There has been a huge increase in ransom kidnapping in Nigeria for years. More than 1,800 people are kidnapped annually. Kidnap victims in Nigeria come in all forms and all socio-economic levels. Poor families as well as the rich are targeted on a daily basis. 

3. Iraq: Sadly, since the US was forced out of Iraq by Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki, 63, AKA  Jawad al-Maliki and Abu Esraa, Iraqi citizens have continued suffer from acts of terrorism as a result of continued fighting and discourse between the Shia and Sunni. Kidnapping, vehicular bombs and suicide bombers continue to demonstrate that US advisers should have been left behind to assist Iraqi forces. Yet, that did not occur.

2. Somalia: In what can only be described as a dysfunctional government, islamic extremists, pirates, marauders and kidnappers abduct upwards of 1,850 annually. In recent years, a number of Europeans have been abducted in northern Kenya and taken across the border and held for large cash demands.

1. Afghanistan: Thanks to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, kidnapping in this country remains out-of-control thanks to the 2,000 abductions that occur annually. Like Pakistan, I strongly urge that nationalities of all countries avoid Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, the topic of hostage-taking and abduction in all its forms will continue with a section on how various targets can prevent a kidnapping.