Surviving a Kidnapping: How Your International Business Should Respond.
A special guest post by Global Security Consultant and Political Risk Expert, Paul Crespo. This is the third post in the series.
You are an executive on a business trip in a foreign country, being driven to a meeting when suddenly your car is slammed by a large truck and armed men with Ak-47s yank you from your car, blindfold you and throw you into a van.
You have just been kidnapped. Now what?
Fortunately, most kidnappings today are for ransom, and victims are eventually released. If it is an “express” kidnapping, your ordeal could be over in 48 hours after a couple of maximum withdrawals from your ATM. Otherwise your captivity could last several months.
Any abduction can turn deadly however, and the victim’s survival will depend on decisions he or she makes while in captivity, but more importantly how his or her company back home responds.
Ideally your company has prepared for this risk and has provided you some security training and you have at least been briefed on what to expect during your captivity.
You should already have agreed-upon personal and secret “proof of life” questions and answers to confirm that you have been kidnaped and are alive and well. You should also have been briefed that kidnappings for ransom can take weeks or months to resolve, and given some pointers on how to handle yourself during your capture and captivity.
These should include:
- Not to antagonize your captors with obstinate behavior.
- Understand that sadly kidnappings for ransom are seen as a business transaction, and you are a valuable commodity to your captors. You will be kept alive.
- Have faith that your company is doing everything possible to ensure your safe return.
- Be prepared for a long and arduous process.
- Remember that most kidnaps for ransoms are concluded successfully with no loss of life.
Designating a Crisis Management Team
To help ensure a successful resolution, your company should also have previously designated and trained a company crisis management team (CMT) to immediately deal with your kidnapping.
This team should consist of the company CEO, security chief, or director of international operations, and the general counsel. The team might also include a finance officer (to raise the ransom) and a human resources or personnel officer to care for the hostage’s family. If company size permits, a public relations person should be included to handle media.
If your company has obtained kidnap insurance for its key personnel they should have a