Kidnap & Ransom update – February 7, 2019
7-Feb-19

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 04/02/19) Kidnappers of Turkish-Canadian professor arrested

Colombian security forces arrested three members of a criminal gang, which has been attributed with the kidnapping/murder of a Turkish-Canadian professor in December 2018. The gang, which mostly operated in the red district of the city, lured victims by advertising sexual services on social media platforms, drugging them at the encounter to later empty their bank accounts. In particular, Professor Ramazan Gencay was targeted after he contacted one of the female members through Tinder. Gencay was last seen on 6 December 2018 after he left a nightclub in Medellín’s “Zona Rosa” in the company of the woman. His body was found 18 days later in advance state of decomposition in a rural area of the Medellin outskirts. Investigations revealed that the victim had been drugged with psychotropic substances, after which the criminals emptied his bank accounts. The professor died from an overdose after a second dosage was administered. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (GUATEMALA, 05/02/19) Leader of kidnapping gang finally arrested

Guatemalan police arrested a woman who masterminded the abduction and subsequent extortion of a man in the locality of Chiché, Quiché department. The victim was kidnapped in November 2017, with the kidnappers initially demanding a ransom of 150,000 quetzals (USD 19,000). He was released on 2 December after his family paid 25,000 quetzals (USD 3,000). However, the gang continued to demand money from the man, threatening to abduct him again. Two gang members were arrested in the following days, as they showed to collect the second payment of 10,000 quetzals (USD 1,300). FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

3. (YEMEN, 06/02/19) Kidnapped Bahraini citizens rescued in Aden

Yemeni security forces rescued three men of Bahraini nationality in the city of Dhale, in the province of the same name. Details on the operation were not disclosed. The three men were kidnapped on 3 February as they were about to return home from a short visit to their hometown of Dhale. The abduction was attributed to tribal militias from Shabwa province, allegedly led by a man known as Salim al-Tusli. It was initially reported that the victims were relatives of high-ranking members of the Arab coalition. FULL ARTICLE (1)

4. (SYRIA, 07/02/19) John Cantlie still alive: UK Security Minister

Security minister Ben Wallace said British intelligence officials believe Cantlie is still in custody, but declined to offer further details about why they think he is alive or where he may be held. Wallace has been heavily criticized following his statement, with Senior Whitehall sources saying he may have put John Cantlie’s life in jeopardy by commenting on his status. According to a UK newspaper citing Kurdish sources, John Cantlie and two other Western hostages are being used as bargaining chips by the Islamic State in negotiations with US-backed Kurdish-Arab forces to get safe passage. The other two hostages are allegedly Italian priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, and a female Red Cross nurse from New Zealand. John Cantlie was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 and has not been seen publicly alive since 2016. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

5. (MALAYSIA, 06/02/19) Singaporean trader released after ransom payment, kidnappers arrested

Malaysian police arrested seven men believed to be involved in the kidnapping of a Singapore trader. The criminals were arrested after the trader’s family had paid them a RM1 million (USD 245,000) ransom. The Singaporean businessman was kidnapped in Gelang Patah, southern Johor province, on 27 January. The ransom was paid on 31 January and the hostage was released the next day. No more details were made public. FULL ARTICLE

6. (THAILAND, 06/02/19) Vietnamese blogger feared abducted by Vietnamese agents

Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese activist and blogger, has been reported missing in Thailand, just after he fled Vietnam to seek political asylum. Nhat last made contact with his editors at Radio Free Asia on 26 January, a day after he applied for refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok. Radio Free Asia quoted an unnamed associate of Nhat as saying he was “arrested” inside Bangkok’s Future Park shopping centre. His disappearance has fuelled fears that he may have been abducted by Vietnamese security agents. Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders called on the Thai authorities to investigate the incident, saying the case has sent an “absolutely terrifying” message to the community of exiled Vietnamese in Thailand. Nhat served two years in prison starting in 2014 after publishing blog posts critical of Vietnam’s communist leadership. This is not the first time the Vietnamese government has been accused of abducting its citizens abroad. Last year, a German court jailed a Vietnamese man for helping his country’s secret services kidnap a former Vietnamese oil executive from a Berlin street in 2017 and smuggle him back to Vietnam. FULL ARTICLE (1)