The Business of Kidnapping
Kidnapping is a serious and real threat when you travel to emerging markets and high-risk parts of the world. Criminals generate large profits and operate like a business. Kidnappers not only target executives for ransom or political gain, but also Western business associates from lucrative industries including oil and gas.
The number of reported kidnapping cases continues to grow each year. According to industry experts, there has been a dramatic increase in reported kidnappings in high-risk countries from 2012 through the first six months of 2013. The current top high-risk countries are Nigeria and Mexico. Mexico had 555 reported kidnappings between January and April 2013 compared with 417 incidents during the same time period last year. Yemen also placed particularly high on the list this year as its government remains unable to enforce its justice system or any authority.
Kidnapping can describe a wide spectrum of scenarios. Aside from the most common form of abduction, kidnap for ransom, criminals also engage in express (lightning) kidnappings where victims are temporarily detained and their bank accounts drained through coerced bank transactions. More disturbingly, kidnappers have begun abducting individuals and selling them to terrorist organizations who use the victims for political gain. Your company cannot afford to put you, the most precious commodity, in a vulnerable position.
Kidnappers look for easy targets. They observe and prey on travelers who create patterns and habits such as taking the same routes to and from work. Cell phone records, travel itineraries, and background information are often collected in dangerous countries with help from telephone service providers and corrupt local law enforcement. Something as simple as a tweet or Facebook post from a corporate employee or family member mentioning your whereabouts can lead to an attack.
The following simple steps can be taken to deter kidnapping while traveling internationally:
- Establish a crisis-management plan with your company before traveling abroad
- Learn about the geopolitical situation in the region you are traveling to
- Employ security professionals who can provide security-risk analysis and country-specific response plans before travel
- Conduct comprehensive due diligence on the individuals and companies you will be meeting with
- Arrange for qualified security to pick you up from the airport and provide secure transportation throughout your travels
- Maintain consistent communication with your colleagues while overseas
- Remain alert and aware of your surroundings while traveling abroad
It’s no secret the oil and gas industry is high-risk. You must travel to unstable and often third-world regions in order to maintain and expand your business. Talk to experienced professionals and conduct the necessary research and planning before traveling overseas. Safety is your No. 1 priority.