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Case Studies

YOU GET KIDNAPPED BECAUSE YOU HAVE SOMETHING THE OTHER SIDE WANTSAre you the proud father of the bolshy 15 year old daughter?One night, you come back from the office absolutely exhausted. All you want to do is sit in your chair, have a drink and probably fall asleep and forget the awfulness of the day.

You come back to find your child heavily made up, wearing the shortest pink skirt you have ever seen. She’s smelling too strongly of her mother’s scent as well. Complete overkill – but then she’s a teenager and doesn’t know any better.

It should be said that Mother isn’t around: she’s a high profile socialite who loves her charity work. She’s visiting a refuge centre somewhere out of the capital city, has half the world’s press corps with her and has left you in charge.

Daughter says “Dad I’m going out with my boyfriend. Please can I have some money for a taxi.” You hand over the pesos and tell her she must be back by half past ten, complaining grumpily about her short clothes and excessive make up. The world falls in – she’s going to a party with the boyfriend and wants to stay overnight. You have a blazing row and girl storms out of the house slamming the door behind her.

You seek refuge in your favourite chair with the whiskey bottle. And yes, you fall asleep pretty quickly. You go to bed at midnight rather drunk so you don’t worry about the fact that your daughter isn’t back yet.

At four o’clock in the morning, your telephone rings. A muffled voice announces “we have your daughter”. You put the telephone down on the caller, saying “keep her”. You think its a joke, and you go back to sleep.
At seven o’clock, the telephone rings again. This time the voice says “expect a parcel shortly”. About ten minutes later, you hear your servant downstairs opening the front door to receive a parcel. The servant brings it to you. It is a scruffily tied brown paper parcel, with cheap string holdling it together. You open it up. Inside there is a sheet of paper which just has $1,000,000 or she’s dead written on it; and the tiny little pink skirt she was wearing last night. Suddenly your hangover disappears very quickly. You call her mobile telephone – there’s no answer. You ring the boyfriend and ask if she’s with him. Boyfriend tells you they had a row as well and he put her in a taxi to get home by 10.30. Boyfriend says he’s coming around to see you. When the boyfriend arrives your iphone goes – you have a face time call. You see a picture of your daughter all trussed up with a gag in her mouth, only in her underclothes. A large man dressed in a black mask and black clothes slaps her hard, pulls the gag out of her mouth and she screams. “I’m so sorry Daddy; they want you to pay them $1,000,000 or they are going to kill me”. kidnapper slaps her again and hangs up. You try to call the number back but can’t. Its unavailable.

Boyfriend and you sit down and try to think. Should you tell the police? If so, who in the police? The local law office in your part of the capital city is famous for being corrupt.

Boyfriend says “I saw a programme about security consultancies who help people get out of kidnap situations. Can you talk to anyone about getting access to these firms?”

Like a blinding flash of lightening you recall the company security meeting that had taken place a couple of months ago. There had been talk of retaining a security consultancy because the levels of kidnapping and extortion had become so bad. At the time, you thought “that won’t happen to me”.

You ring your security officer at work and explain what has happened. He calms you down, says he’s coming to see you and meanwhile please keep a telephone line open because a security consultant will contact him very shortly.

The whole ghastly scenario changes. Help is at hand!

Negotiations now take place for your daughter’s release. They last about ten days: and a payment is successfully made with the fullest cooperation of the relevant (and straight) authorities. Your daughter comes home, exhausted and unharmed. Two days later, the police catch the kidnappers. The ransom payment (which was actually settled at $300,000) disappeared.

COMMENT:
You will be abducted because you have something the other side wants and in 99% of cases it is money.

It is a condition of the insurance policy that its existence remains absolutely confidential. In this case, the father never knew there was an insurance in place – he was just helped as part of the service offered by his company.

In the end, the insurance policy reimbursed the ransom, paid the security consultants’ fees and expenses and all the other additional expenses that had built up during the short negotiation period.

The company security officer went away happy; his Board of Directors had been a bit sceptical about spending such a large sum on their Special Accident insurance. Now they were all smiles and praises having seen it work.

My first posting for the charity was to be Mali, where I was going to be a teaching assistant at an infant school. I was to be away for a year. The charity prepared me well for the conditions I would have to live in: and when the day came to leave my beloved Paris I was so excited: and a little wistful, thinking I would be exchanging the lush green for something so very different.I arrived at Mali, and soon settled into my work. We travelled back and forth to the nearest City where we had lodgings and there was internet so I was able to keep in contact with my family and friends as well as colleagues back home. I had been in Mali for about two months: when our bus travelling to the school was held up. Hooded men with guns got on board, and we were all frogmarched off. Once outside, I remember we had to kneel down and hoods were put over our heads. I thought “this is it” I’m going to die. In fact it was no such thing. We were bundled into another vehicle, and driven for what seemed like days. When night came our hoods were removed: and our captors fed and watered us. They made loo stops on the way too – a difficult experience as a female with a hood over my head.I had two colleagues with me and we were able to whisper amongst ourselves. We all agreed that we had been kidnapped: but we didn’t know why. The charity didn’t have any money, so how were they expecting to be paid a ransom? We knew nothing at all. After what seemed like an age we were eventually allowed to talk to each other rather than whisper. After a while, our captors began to talk to us: we started to pick up their language. We soon became “friends”: in that it seemed better to cooperate than try and escape because none of us had any idea where we were. The captors were all highly educated: there was a doctor amongst them who watched us all very carefully, and once we got to know them they were very polite to us. However, they kept us moving: we always moved at night.

We eventually discovered that we were being held captive not for a ransom, but because we were international charity workers and our government was being used to put pressure on the government to seek out and release one of their members who was being held in a death camp in the north of the country.

The death camps were truly horrible establishments: people DID disappear there.

After what seemed like many months (we lost track of time because our watches were taken away from us, we had no telephones and heard no news) we were told we were to be released.

We climbed into the back of the truck, had our hoods put on, and were driven for a few hours only this time. When our hoods were removed, we found ourselves in the capital City, Bamako.

We went to a church and asked the pastor for help. He contacted our mission, and we were quickly picked up.

None of us had any idea of what had been happening while we were held captive. We discovered that our salaries had continued to be paid, and there was a team of people working really hard on our behalf to effect our release. This team of people had helped look after our families. It was wonderful to see my family again; my poor mother and father had gone grey worrying about me. They were all intrigued by the way we had been treated. I later came to understand how important it was that we were looked after because if we had been dead we would have had no use. A hostage is only any good if they are alive and can talk.

I also learned after a few months that a ransom was paid for our release, and the political prisoner was released too.

Would I go back to Mali? Yes, every time. They are a wonderful people and in spite of my ordeal they took good care of me. The work of the Charity continues unabated and they have suffered no further incidents of kidnapping.

COMMENT

You need no ransom demand to trigger a detention claim.

A detention can often conclude with the settlement of a ransom in addition to political demands.

Kidnappers need you to be alive; it is very dangerous to pay a ransom only on proof of possession. So, always have a secret question somewhere that only you can answer. Then your family will know you are alive.

Policy paid for all salary costs, consultancy fees and additional expenses; and reimbursed the ransom. The charity worker never knew there was an insurance in place.

The insurance policy will offer cover (the full sum insured) against loss in transit of a ransom. This means when the ransom leaves its final safe house to its perilous last journey to the kidnappers.Today, ransom payment can take many forms. For example:Electronic payment. With the press of one button monies can be sent to hundreds of different banks in territories around the world.

Cash:

Piracy: this means getting the ransom from the country of origin, obeying the local laws, and then very probably dropping it out of an aeroplane to little people driving about in boats below you. So, remember to pack the money in watertight bags!
Used notes on land. Kidnappers will be watching you all the way. There is a famous case of an individual having to change his transport and his clothes a dozen times before making the final drop.

Cash and/or marketable goods: A famous case is a European incident where the ransom was paid in diamonds as well as cash. The diamonds were subsequently recovered because the kidnapper talked too much.

50 workers are detained in a war zone somewhere in the Middle East: they are unable to leave the country. The War Zone “host” has suddenly gone to war with their home country and they can’t get out.They had to wait until peace broke out before they could leave the country. International aid workers saw they received medical aid and assistance. Two people died whilst being held in captivity.No ransom demand was made. The additional expenses section paid for their salary and all negotiation costs and for the medical aid and assistance needed.

The Personal Accident section gave the Assured the full death benefit in respect of the two who lost their lives.