This paper argues for a more vigorous and sophisticated approach to countering kidnapping as a means of funding organized crime and terrorism: disrupting the business model of kidnapping organizations.
The proposed strategy is two-pronged. First, traditional law enforcement techniques are used in order to increase the cost of operating a kidnapping gang by raising the probability of conviction and the expected length of time in prison. Second, crisis negotiation techniques are used to reduce the profits of kidnapping and increase the risk of capture, while using negotiation techniques that minimize risk to the victim. This strategy derives from viewing the kidnapping gang from the perspective of a business model. The marginal cost of keeping a hostage alive over an extended period involves the cost of salaries to gang members, food, and other maintenance costs, plus the cost of the risk of capture the longer the gang remains in negotiation about the ransom payment. If the kidnapping gang leader believes that those costs are justified by the potential for ransom, he will keep the hostage alive to trade. The fixed costs of a kidnapping operation include recruiting gang members, securing weapons, finding safe houses, scouting potential victims, and making the abduction. Each of these steps involves expense and the risk of detection. Under this strategy, the primary decision is not whether the ransom should be paid, but rather how much ransom to pay and how quickly. The most effective approach is to hold out the prospect of enough payment so the victim is kept alive for further bargaining, but not enough payment to make kidnapping and the attendant risk of capture or death worth the risk. 2 references
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