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Kidnap & Ransom update August 2, 2018


1. (COLOMBIA, 01/08/18) Body of foreigner kidnapped by the ELN found in Chocó
A humanitarian commission formed by members of the Red Cross and international guarantors of the peace process with the National Liberation Army (ELN) assisted in the recovery of the body of a foreign national who was kidnapped and later killed by the guerrilla group in a jungle area of ​​Chocó department. The body reportedly belongs to Arsen Voskanyan, a Russian national who was kidnapped by members of the ELN in 2016 while he was allegedly collecting poisonous frogs in that region to traffic them on the black market. The ELN announced the killing of the hostage after six months in captivity, in September 2017, allegedly after he tried to escape. The Russian authorities confirmed Voskanyan’s death in September 2017. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

2. (VENEZUELA, 01/08/18) Italian businessman found death after kidnapping in Aragua
Italian businessman Elio José Simonelli Datellis, owner of the warehouses used by Nestlé in Aragua state, was found dead inside his vehicle in the Francisco Linares Alcántara municipality, after he was kidnapped on the same day. It is reported that the victim was murdered as he tried to escape during a clash between the kidnappers and police. Three kidnappers died in the confrontation. Simonelli was reportedly kidnapped on the morning of 1 August as he arrived to another of his businesses, a car body shop, in the city of Maracay. FULL ARTICLE (1)


3. (UK, 01/08/18) Chinese student victim of virtual kidnapping in the UK
A Chinese youth, who was studying in the UK, was almost swindled out of £30,000 in a virtual kidnapping, adding to the long list of Chinese students targeted in such scheme abroad. The person behind this scam posed as a staff member of the Chinese embassy in London, and successfully convinced the young woman she was suspected of money laundering. In order to gain her trust, the fraudster created a fake Beijing Public Security Bureau profile. Additionally, the man sent her a fake criminal detention arrest warrant and an asset freeze control order over QQ, a Chinese messaging app. He also told her she was restricted from leaving the country. On 22 July, the student transferred to the criminal £30,000 from her bank account, money which was supposed to be used for her tuition and living expenses. Fortunately, British police were able to carry out a remittance freeze and the money was recovered. After the incident, the victim’s mother said she could not understand how her daughter’s personal information was leaked. The Chinese Embassy in London has stated it continues to issue notices to guard against this type of scams. FULL ARTICLE


4. (IRAQ, 31/07/18) Kidnapping gang busted in Baghdad
The Iraqi Central Intelligence Agency on 31 August dismantled a gang responsible for numerous kidnappings in Baghdad. According to statements by the arrested gang members, including a woman and three men, their modus operandi was to lure their victims through social networking sites. The gang was reportedly active in different parts of the capital, especially in the Al-Amin neighborhood of New Baghdad. An unspecified number of victims were release during the arrest operation. FULL ARTICLE</p>

5. (SAUDI ARABIA, 31/07/18) Ethiopian national sentenced to death over kidnapping in Jizan
The Saudi Ministry of the Interior on 31 August sentenced to death an Ethiopian national in Jizan province, on charges of kidnaping for ransom and murder. Sultan Sulaiman Rida reportedly lured a boy and kidnapped him at gunpoint, to later demand a ransom for his release. The victim was later murdered by the accused. No additional information was available on the case. FULL ARTICLE (1)

6. (SYRIA, 01/08/18) Videos released of Japanese and Italian hostages held in Syria
A militant group released videos of a Japanese journalist and an Italian man held captive in Syria, appealing for their release. The two men – Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda and Italian national Alessandro Sandrini – appear in two separate videos that are nonetheless similar in their staging. Both videos were released on 31 August by jihad monitor SITE group, which did not specify which group was responsible for the recordings. In the videos, both men are shown wearing orange jumpsuits and kneeling in front of a wall, while armed men dressed in black stand behind them. Yasuda, who is thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra Front in northern Syria in 2015, identifies himself as Korean in the video (although he speaks Japanese), giving the recording date as 25 July, stating he is in a bad situation and asking for help. Meanwhile, Sandrini gives a different date, 19 July, and says that it is his last request to the Italian government. It is believed Sandrini was kidnapped in eastern Turkey in October 2016 before being taken to Syria. It is unclear under which circumstances Sandrini was kidnapped, but it is believed he had gone to Adana, a Turkish city near the border with Syria, on some drugs deal. His first contact with his family since the abduction took place in December 2017, when he called his mother to inform her of his kidnaping and instructed her to go to the press. A second call took place in January 2018. According to media speculation, it is possible the Italian authorities had previously been contacted by the kidnappers and negotiations had been already underway. Sandrini’s mother has said her son also told her his captors wanted money, however not from the family but from the state. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)


7. (SOUTH AFRICA, 28/07/18) Kidnapped girl found dead in Mpumalanga
Noluthando Masango, who went missing while attending a traditional ceremony in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga province, was found dead in a shallow grave on 27 July, a day after her family missed the deadline to pay the ransom demanded by her captors. The family had received a series of calls and text messages between 23 and 26 July, in which the kidnappers demanded a ransom of ZAR 5,000 (USD 377), to be deposited from a 24/7 store through the money market transaction facility. The kidnappers threatened to kill the girl if the money was no paid by 1pm on 26 July. The family was unable to gather the demanded amount and thus the kidnappers killed the victim. Police investigations are underway. FULL ARTICLE

8. (LIBYA, 02/08/18) Video emerges of expatriates abducted in Libya
A video showing the foreign engineers abducted three weeks ago in southern Libya has been posted on social networking sites. In the video posted on 1 August on the Facebook account of Libyan media company 218 News, the hostages request their respective government to negotiate with their kidnappers to release them and save their lives. The four hostages, a South Korean and three Filipinos, are seen in good health, wearing normal clothes and sitting on the ground in a desert area. An armed man is seen sitting behind them, with his face covered. The kidnappers’ demands are not stated in the video, however it is likely that the motive behind the kidnapping is the procurement of a ransom. The governments of South Korea and the Philippines have confirmed their citizens are those featured in the video. Following the release of the video, Seoul said on 2 August it has deployed a warship to Libya, in an apparent show of force to secure the release of the hostages. The 4,000-tonne vessel, Munmu the Great, which takes part in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, is now on its way to Libya, to “carry out its duty of protecting commercial vessels, and preparing for all possibilities including the need for military support”, a south Korean defence ministry spokesman said. The four engineers were kidnapped on 6 July by an unknown armed group from the Al-Hasawneh site of the artificial river system in which they were working. While no group has claimed the kidnapping, the Libyan government is reportedly favoring the possibility that the group is an armed militia operating under orders of tribal forces within the region, rather than an Islamist group such as IS or Al-Qaeda. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

9. (MADAGASCAR, 31/07/18) Madagascar takes urgent measures to curb kidnapping problem
On 31 July, the Malagasy Government put into effect emergency security measures, including the mobilization of the Army and the Police, to stop the wave of kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs in the country. “We have ordered the officers and soldiers to intensify the search for criminals” said the Secretary of State, General Jean Christophe Randriamanarina, shortly after the kidnapping for ransom of four employees of the state-owned Kraoma mine, in the northern commune of Tsaratanana. The plan for the adoption of these drastic security measures was announced on 28 July by the Malagasy President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, after receiving notification on the aforementioned abduction. FULL ARTICLE


10. (GEORGIA, 31/07/18) Russian “border” guards kidnap Georgian citizen at occupation line
On 31 July, Russian “border” guards kidnapped Georgian citizen Vasil Salamashvili at the occupation line between Georgia and its occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region in the east of the country. The State Security Service of Georgia has confirmed the incident, which took place in the so-called border crossing in the village of Sakorintlo, Kaspi municipality, on the side administered by the central Georgian government. The European Union Monitoring Mission has been informed over the illegal action. Russians and representatives of the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali frequently abduct Georgian citizens and release them after paying a “fine”, which amounts to about 30-33 USD. Most of the international community do not recognize the said regions as independent and considers these territories are occupied by Russia. FULL ARTICLE

11. (AFGHANISTAN, 02/08/18) Three foreigners killed after being kidnapped in Kabul
Three foreign nationals working in Kabul were killed on 2 August shortly after they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen. One Indian, one Malaysian and one Macedonian were reportedly kidnapped early morning on the same day and their bodies were later found inside a car parked at the Mussahi district of Kabul province. Reportedly, they had been kidnapped near Pul-e-Charkhi in the PD9 of the city. Afghan police have confirmed the incident but have not given any further details. According to Indian media, the three men were travelling to work with a local driver when they were abducted. The driver, who was not taken by the kidnappers, informed the company on the incident. The bodies were reportedly found riddled with bullets. Afghan security officials said they are awaiting confirmation on the identity of the bodies from their employer, French food service provider Sodexo. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident. FULL ARTICLE (1)