Kidnap & Ransom Update – July 15, 2019
15-Jul-19

AMERICAS

1. (BRAZIL, 14/07/19) Kidnapped businessman recovered after road accident

A businessman was abducted on 13 July in Maceió, the capital of Alagoas state, as he went to pick up his wife from a college in the city. As he arrived, he was forced at gunpoint inside his own car’s trunk. The victim’s wife reported the incident to the police, who soon after located the vehicle by air and trailed it. During the chase, the criminals lost control over the car and ended up inside a ravine. One of the kidnappers died as a result of the incident, while the victim suffered spine injuries. The two other criminals were arrested. It is currently unknown if the kidnapping of the businessman was a kidnapping of opportunity or a pre-planned event. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (COLOMBIA, 14/07/19) Rancher killed in attempted kidnapping

Three armed men, who claimed to be members of the ELN, are accused of murdering 83-year-old farmer José Hernán Osorio Arengas in an apparent attempt to kidnap him. The businessman was intercepted in a rural community of Cesar department on 12 July, at about 7:00 pm, when he transited back to his farm along with two employees. The criminals diverted them from the road to the village of Norian, where the two workers were tied and Osorio was shot. Although the farmer was taken to the hospital, he died of his injuries. It is believed this was a kidnapping attempt as the group was not robbed and the victim’s family said there were no recent threats or any other type of criminal encounter. However, Osorio was the victim of kidnapping in 1991, when he was also the president of the National Federation of Cereals Producers and executive of the Association of Cotton Producers of Cesar. He was also known for having had a number of local political and official positions. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (COLOMBIA, 14/07/19) Paraguayan-Lebanese merchant missing in Maicao

Alex Sayed Ahmad Coronil, a Lebanese Paraguayan citizen, has been missing for over a day. The expatriate, who is owner of a fast food business, was last seen in the border locality of Maicao early on 13 July, when he boarded a white vehicle driven by unidentified people. The local authorities are investigating the possibility of a kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

4. (SPAIN, 14/07/19) Swedish kidnappers arrested in Malaga

Two Swedish brothers of Ugandan origin, who had European orders for arrest for kidnap and torture, were arrested in Malaga on 14 July. The arrest was carried out by an officer of the Judicial Police, who was off duty at a mall and recognized the two suspects who were said to be hiding in Costa del Sol. Before approaching the suspects, he sought support from colleagues on duty and the mall’s private security. The now detainees are accused of having kidnapped and tortured a person in Sweden in February this year. The victim was reportedly held for three days, during which he suffered serious injuries as the kidnappers tried to obtain his banking passwords. They two men are said to belong to a biker gang from Goteborg and had fled to Spain since the police started investigating the case. FULL ARTICLE

5. (UK, 14/07/19) Terror police investigate if Christian charity paid ransom to IS

UK police are investigating a Christian charity to determine if it financed terrorism after its chairman was involved in the freeing of 226 hostages held by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria in 2016. The Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (Acero) is chaired by the bishop of Syria, Mar Afram Athneil, but is run by Andy Darmoo, who is the director of a lighting company in southern England. In its financial statements for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2016, Acero showed an expenditure of £147,689 (over USD 185,000) marked as “Iraq Hostages”. A media report in 2016 described Mr Athneil as being “almost exclusively” behind the year-long brokering of the deal to free the hostages. The exact ransom amount is unknown but is estimated to be in the millions. Meanwhile, Mr Athneil has insisted the UK charity was not involved in the hostage rescue nor was Mr Andy Darmoo, who said the £147,689 was sent to Iraq as humanitarian relief after the hostages were freed. The UK authorities said they were unhappy with these explanations and were worried about any possible link between the charity and a payment of funds to a terrorist organisation through the payment for ransoms to securing the release of hostages. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

AFRICA

6. (SOUTH AFRICA, 14/07/19) “Famous” actor arrested for kidnapping and extortion

The South African Police Service (SAPS) released a statement on 14 July, saying that a “famous South African actor” and his two accomplices are set to appear in court. They are accused of a series of crimes, including impersonating a police officer, kidnapping and extortion. The victim, a local businessman, was contacted in June by one of the suspects, who claimed he had been referred to him by a partner. The two met in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, but later the businessman was driven to a house in Klopperpark, east of Johannesburg. When they arrived at the house, the businessman claimed that the man took out diamonds and placed it on a table. Later, the two other suspects, who presented themselves as police officers, joined them and demanded a R100,000 (approximately USD 7,000) bribe from the businessman to quash the illegal diamond deal case. They also demanded to be shown his bank balance on his cell phone, and forcibly took him to an ATM to withdraw R31,000 (just above USD 2,000). He reported the matter to police after he was released. The men were arrested in Johannesburg on 13 July, as they showed up to receive from the businessman the balance of the R100,000 originally demanded. FULL ARTICLE (1)