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International Kidnap Negotiations: Preparation, Response & Related Issues (From Understanding and Responding to the Terrorism Phenomenon: A Multi-Dimensional Perspective, P 250-258, 2007, Ozgur Nikbay and Suleyman Hancerli, eds. -- See NCJ-225118)

NCJ Number
Stephen J. Romano
Date Published
9 pages
Based on the author’s professional experience in working kidnapping cases in which a company employee has been kidnapped for ransom from the company, this paper suggests ways that companies can prepare to deal effectively with such an event.
Every corporation should develop a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) that addresses the most likely crises a company may face. A Kidnap Response Plan (KRP) should be a mandatory part of the CMP for any company with international operations. The KRP should address kidnap negotiations, strategies, and techniques. Confirmation that a kidnapping has occurred is the first priority at the outset. When an employee is missing, it is always prudent to prepare for the worse case scenario, which means making preparations for the initial call from abductors. A three-part message should be readied for the initial call: a willingness to communicate; the need for proof of possession/proof of life; and a requirement for a reasonable delay. The communicator should expect a high financial demand, a deadline, threats, and a warning not to involve law enforcement. The generic negotiation strategy is to lower the expectations of the kidnappers by attempting to minimize the company’s and victim’s family’s ability to pay a high ransom. Paying too much too soon should always be avoided. The communicator should continue to make a link between the payment of the ransom and continuing assurance of the safety of the kidnap victim. This paper discusses criteria for financial negotiations with the kidnappers, important qualities for the communicator who deals with the kidnappers, and how to handle the exchange of the agreed upon ransom for the victim. Attention is also given to interactions with law enforcement personnel, victim families, and the media.