EXCLUSIVE: How does the UK deal with kidnap and terror threats? (Part TWO)

In the first part of this article I announced that I had been to London recently to conduct a ShoutOutUK exclusive interview on how the UK is dealing with kidnap and terror threats as of right now. I met with Frances Nobes a Global Risk Analyst for a company called red24 and she agreed to shed some light on what is after all a very confidential business. She explained her role was to analyse and report any potential risks in any country for companies choosing to operate abroad whether in the short or long term. The detail of the reports that she creates are very thorough and detailed so as to give any company who require her services all the necessary information to work around and be aware of any potential risks in any given nation.

That’s was Part One, here is the next segment of the interview:-
Q: In which part of Africa do you get the highest volume of requests for risk analysis?
“From my experience there seems to be a lot of interest in operations which involve resources. We’ve had requests for reports in Nigeria regarding the oil industry. Also we’ve had requests in places like Libya and Egypt where companies who were operating there are looking to return following the Arab Spring. We get a lot of reports for places where there has been existing industry but of course things start to change over time. For example the recent attacks in Algeria has made companies operating around there start to think that these incidents can happen to them.”

Q: What is the motivation for such attacks or kidnappings on these places?
“A lot of kidnappings globally are at least partially financially motivated. There are certainly kidnappings for financial gain and also for political statements. Looking at Al-Qaeda kidnappings for example they will often have a strong political motive behind their kidnappings but they will also ask for a ransom. It is very rare you will get a kidnapping with just a political agenda. In Egypt Bedouin tribesmen kidnap locals and tourists; they will often hold their victims for a short amount of time and ask for a cash amount that is relatively small. However they may also ask, for example, for one of their fellow tribesmen who is currently in prison to be released. In this instance there is a dual motive that is both political and financial. These are the most common type of kidnapping in that region”.
“India has one of the highest kidnap rates in the world right now. It is overwhelmingly local nationals that are targeted there and kidnappings are often done for forced marriages, forced labour and prostitution amongst other things. These situations in India and for Africa gain very little media attention here in the UK. Statistics also showed that approximately 45,000 people in India were kidnapped in 2011 and the majority of those kidnap victims were women.”

Q: Are there different types of kidnappings occurring in certain countries?
‘Express kidnapping’ is starting to happen a lot more globally. An individual will be targeted, for example, when they are taking money out of an ATM, or walking home alone after a night out. The victims are then abducted but are only held for a very short period of time. This will usually be for a few hours and in rare cases may go up to 24 to 36 hours. The kidnappers will then force you to give them your PIN number to your credit and debit cards and will then just drive around draining your account from different cash machines. Once they have got all the money they can out of your bank account they will then usually release you.
“So it is kidnapping but it is done quickly, because then the kidnappers don’t have to worry about having to use a safe-house, hide the hostages or worry about getting heavily involved with the authorities. Sometimes they may hold their victims for a small ransom if there is a personal grudge however this random is often very small in the grand scale of things.”

“Another type is known as ‘tiger kidnapping’. This is different in the sense that a ‘tiger kidnapping’ won’t involve a ransom or any form of cash sum. Usually it will involve kidnappers making their victim do something for them in order to be released. A hypothetical example could be that the victim is asked to rob a bank in return for being released. So if you are stealing, for example, for these groups there is again some financial motivation but it is essentially a means to an end.”

What we seem to be getting a picture of then is a vastly changing system that kidnappers are using to be more successful in the modern world. Unless you have a large amount of both financial and technological resources it is very difficult in today’s world to conduct a high-status kidnapping and keep control over the situation as the authorities become involved.
Therefore it seems that kidnappers and those looking to take advantage of people are now looking to quicker and quieter methods to get what they want. A lot of these are once again financially motivated yet by keeping their kidnapping operations to a very small timeframe they do not attract any outside attention or suspicion. What is becoming clear then is that these operations are becoming a lot more intricate and discrete so that these kidnapping organisations can work off the resources they currently have.

In the third and final part of this feature piece will be the concluding events of my interview with Frances. Not only that but we will be discussing how this not only affects those around the globe but how we respond here in the UK and also what Frances’ vision of the future is for these kidnapping organisations.

ROBERT PRITCHARD