A report from FC Miller, CEO Profiles Threat Countermeasures Group
(From the Informed Source Newsletter, published by Profiles Threat Countermeasures Group.)
When corporate executives and corporate workers are kidnapped, it’s bad business for their companies - not to mention their families, their stockholders, and their international image! But it also means more business for Dignitary Protection professionals who specialize in countering corporate kidnappings, hostage taking, torture, even murder!
Hostage taking which sometimes includes murder, has dramatically increased in recent years in places such as Colombia, Nigeria, Ecuador, and even Chechnya, among other countries. This is one of the dramatic downsides of multi-national corporations and oil fields. What was once international business for profit, has now also become international business at deadly risks!
The perpetrators in these games are not corporate competitors, but terrorists who use kidnapping for ransom as an easy way to finance their terrorist activities all over the world. And the victims, corporations which are far more accustomed to dealing with international manufacturing, export, and profit and loss statements, are now having to deal with the dark side of international intrigue, high level international security, and security consultants who are light years more professionally advanced than a rent-a-cop or make-sure-thedoors-are-locked variety of "security".
A top consultant is skilled in international intrigue, high level operational tactics, intelligence operations, risk and threat, counterterrorism, communications, languages, culture, electronics, the corporate world, politics, transport, and a myriad of other areas, and a “top” consultant is worth his weight in gold. Obviously, such top level consultants don’t run ads in the yellow pages.
The U.S. government discourages paying off kidnapping ransoms, and in some countries such as Italy, it’s against the law to pay ransom to kidnappers and terrorists. Their thinking? That paying off encourages terrorism. But that position doesn’t hold up well when kidnapping for ransom escalates to torture and murder of executive and other corporate employees, and companies often feel they have no choice, especially when hostage-takers begin killing their hostages, as was demonstrated again in January. Several months before January, in October, ten oil workers were kidnapped in Ecuador, (four of the kidnapped hostages were Americans,) and were released in March, reportedly after $13 million was paid off by an oil consortion following the hostage/murder of Ronald Sander of Sunrise Beach Missouri, USA.
According to some stats, between 70% and 80% of kidnap cases end in ransom payments. Often, the ransom payoffs are negotiated and handled by high level security consultants who specialize in Risk Analysis and Threat Assessment, Dignitary or Executive Protection, or are high level PPS professionals who specialize in multi-national corporations. In other instances, local police may handle the negotiations and payoffs. which of course, with your professional noses and alertness, already reminds you of the pall-too-often incidents of collusion between corrupt police and/or government officials.
ANY COMPANY with international facilities can be at risk, but the most notably hit so far, involve international oil, gas and mining companies, perhaps because there are more of them working abroad, and the perpetrators have no doubts that these targets can afford big ransom payoffs.
Excerpting the report of Rod Dunbar of Canada who was kidnapped and held for ransom in Ecuador in 1999. Dunbar and coworker Leonard Carter of Utah (USA), both of whom worked for United Pipeline were grabbed by several dozen gunmen wearing combat fatigues, and toting automatic rifles and pistols. After tramping through swamps and jungles on a 36 hour forced march and fed on monkeys, snakes, piranhas "anything that walked, crawled, or swam that they could get their hands on" according to Dunbar, they wound up in a remote camp near the Colombian border for the duration of their captivity. This is what multi-national companies now have to deal with, and for the most part, are ill-prepared to deal with. The nternational intrigue which comes with international business is no job for amateurs, and requires the assistance of experts.
For those professionals in security who wish expert contacts in multinational business affairs, Informed Source can recommend three of the best, French and Associates, Salvador and Associates, or Safehouse Security, expert sources you should have in your contacts files.
This article is reprinted with permission from Informed Source Newsletter at www.profiles-threat.com.
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