Kidnapping cases differ in the motivations of the kidnappers, the demands being made for the release of the hostages, and the circumstances where the kidnapping has occurred. Terrorist and criminal groups both use kidnapping as a tactic to achieve their goals.Terrorist groups often target foreigners. In some instances, terrorists have killed their kidnap victims when their demands were not met. Foreign employees, particularly those in the oil and mining sectors, aid and humanitarian workers, journalists, tourists and expatriates are regularly targeted.Terrorists may use local merchants such as tour and transport operators to identify foreign visitors for potential kidnap operations. Hostages may be taken by their captors into a neighbouring country. Humanitarian workers and tourists in Kenya have been kidnapped by militants and held in Somalia.Pirates have kidnapped hundreds of people, usually holding them for ransom. Pirates have attacked all forms of shipping, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft (such as yachts) and luxury cruise liners. For more information you should read the Travelling by sea bulletin.In South America, terrorist groups are known to kidnap for ransom. Colombia has one of the highest rates of kidnappings in the world, often perpetrated by groups such as the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in rural areas. Foreigners, including children, have been kidnapped and murdered.Cultural festivals are also attractive places for terrorists and criminals to identify and target tourists for kidnapping. These festivals bring people to predictable locations along unsecured routes.
10 Countries Where You’re Most Likely be Kidnapped for Ransom
There’s nothing quite like a war with al Qaeda and the Taliban to put this country at the top of the kidnapping list. Combine that with the fact that much of the landscape is still lawless and no wonder this country reported 950 kidnapping for ransom per year. Now that the war is over, a power vacuum certainly exists and the place is still a haven for terrorists, arguably making it even more dangerous than when American forces first arrived.
Though piracy has been driven to a three-year low thanks to ships hiring armed security and increased action from the world’s navies, Somalia remains a high risk for kidnapping because of the abject poverty and a government not strong enough to stop crime. At least two people are taken in Somalia every month. Among those taken offshore, there are still more than 200 hostages in the region; just in January, a hostage was killed in a botched rescue attempt by French forces.
American combat forces may have left Iraq, but the danger is still ever present. Though no official stats on kidnapping are collected, the country topped this list in 2007 with an estimated 1,500 kidnappings that year. Crisis-management assistance company Red 24 still places the country in the top three because of its combined political, terrorist and criminal groups all carrying out kidnappings for ransom. Not to mention the ever-present threat of civil war, which will only increase the likelihood of kidnappings should violence between Sunni and Shias resume to its 2007 level.
This country records more than 1,000 kidnappings for ransom a year. At the time of this writing, seven foreigners have been taken by armed militants from a construction company’s camp after a guard was killed. [Editor’s note: The seven hostages have since been reported as murdered.] Seven hostages makes this the biggest kidnapping yet in a country plagued by Islamic extremist groups. The one responsible for the latest kidnapping is called Ansaru; they are linked to al Qaeda and were allegedly responsible for an attack on Nigerian troops traveling to Mali in 2012.
Official American ally Pakistan has been known to harbour terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden, right under the nose of its military. They also harbour hostages—official statistics say there are more than 15,000 kidnappings in Pakistan a year, but the real number could be much higher due to underreporting. Perhaps more troubling is that between 10 and 20 percent of kidnappings are for ransom. Most of the others were killed during rescue and, in the case of Daniel Pearl and others, beheaded.
Last December, when an Austrian man and a Finnish couple were kidnapped in broad daylight on one of the safest streets in the capital city of Sana’a, it highlighted just how lawless the city has become. Sana’a is normally immune from the tribal instability that affects the rest of the country, but this year kidnappings, car-jackings and general crime is on the rise. In the country overall, more than 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped over the past 20 years.
Venezuela has one of the highest rates of abduction per capita in the world—just asked Wilson Ramos, the Venezuelan-born Washington Nationals catcher was kidnapped in his own country last year before being rescued. There were 1,000 kidnappings in just the first 10 months of 2011. The country puts “Express Kidnappings,” in which a ransom is demanded that an individual or family can easily pay, on the map. Sometimes you’ll hear of “The Millionaire Walk,” in which a traveller is trapped by a cab driver who picks up armed thugs before taking the passenger to a number of ATMs—maxing out their bank account with every stop.
Thanks mostly to the failed War on Drugs, the Council for Law and Human Rights reports that there are about 72 kidnappings a day in Mexico, which puts the annual kidnap rate at 26,280 for the year. This is in direct contradiction to the statistics reported by the federal police, which put the kidnapping rate at 1,083 between January and September in 2012—a rate of 4.5 kidnappings per day. The council blames the abduction situation on corruption within the federal police. “The big problem we have in Mexico, in terms of security, is precisely the bodies that should provide security to citizens,” Fernando Ruiz , president of the Council for Law and Human Rights, told The Latinos Post.
Thankfully, kidnappings have gone down in Haiti since their peak between 2004 and 2006, but the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti reports that they are still “fairly frequent.” The U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security agrees, but also says incidents are less predictable and more widespread than they used to be. Montreal’s La Presse suggests that kidnappings have not exploded since the earthquake in 2010, but they do rise during the holiday season, thanks to the belief that families have more cash on-hand during that time to pay for gifts and school tuition.
Incidents have dropped over the past 10 years, but kidnapping still remains an ever-present threat in Colombia. The country still has one of the highest numbers of kidnap victims in the world; in the last few years, kidnappings have started to rise again from the all-time low of 172 in 2009 to 258 in 2011. The rise has been attributed to kidnappings carried out by drug cartels such as Los Rastrojos, but guerilla groups like the FARC AND ELN still play a prominent role.
Other known risk areas:
Alergia, Libya, Morocco, Jordan, Philippines, Lebanon, Syria, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa.
The Risk is eminent in the middle east and many of the South and Central American countries, Africa and in some parts of Asia