Kidnap & Ransom update October 4, 2018
4-Oct-18

AMERICAS

1. (CANADA, 03/10/18) Hackers demand bitcoin from Canadian restaurant chain

A Canadian company that owns many popular restaurant chains has been demanded to pay ransom in bitcoin to retrieve data that hackers claim to have stolen. On 1 October, Recipe Unlimited announced it had been hit with a “malware outbreak” that affected operations at a “limited number” of its restaurants. Several locations have temporarily closed as a result of the attack. Company employees said that following the cyberattack on 28 September, a ransom letter popped up on computers at multiple restaurants owned by the company, after which computer systems crashed. The ransom note informed Recipe Unlimited that they had encrypted the company’s files “with the strongest military algorithms” and that in order to restore the data, the company had to pay an unspecified amount in bitcoin. The cybercriminals then stated the final price would depend on how fast they replied to the note, and that every day of delay would cost 0.5 bitcoin (USD 3,300). The company, although acknowledging the attack, denied their systems were being held for ransom. Recipe Unlimited declined to provide information on when the problem would be resolved or the number of restaurants impacted by the attack. While multiple locations reportedly remain closed, others cannot process debit and credit card transactions or accept online takeout orders. FULL ARTICLE

2. (US, 03/10/18) NYPD arrest kidnappers during ransom delivery

A kidnapped deliveryman was rescued after cops arrested his kidnapers during the meetup for the ransom payment on 2 October. The deliveryman was taken by two suspects after he bumped into a parked car on 1 October. The suspects allegedly told him they knew the owner of the car and demanded USD 1,000 to pay for damages. He was forced into a car at gunpoint after he refused to hand over the money. The two suspects then called the victim’s boss and demanded a ransom, arranging to meet him at a Chase Bank on the Upper West Side. The supervisor however called 911. The suspects were arrested when they arrived at the bank to get the agreed USD 700 ransom. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (COLOMBIA, 03/10/18) Armed men kidnapped mayor’s son from inside school

The five-year-old son of Edwin Contreras, mayor of the Colombian town of El Carmen, was kidnapped on 3 October by two armed strangers who forcibly entered the child’s school in the northeaster department of Norte de Santander. The mayor said that, so far, he had not received any threats from armed groups in the area. No group claimed the incident that took place in the region of Catacumbo, one of the worst affected areas by armed conflict. The boy was released after a few hours, in the same area where he was taken. According to the authorities, the release was the result of the heavy police pressure on the kidnappers. This is the second time that the mayor’s family has been the target of kidnapping. On 16 February 2017, the mayor’s father was kidnapped by National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. He was released a few days after, suffering a heart condition. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

4. (UKRAINE, 04/10/18) Government official tried for kidnapping for ransom

A deputy of the village council of the Zhytomyr region is being tried, accused of kidnapping a man for ransom in Kiev. According to the Kiev prosecutor’s office the deputy and his accomplices kidnapped the 39-year-old businessman in the Darnytsa district of the capital, as he was getting on his car. After beating him, they took him to the forest near the village of Pogreby, Brovarsky District, where they forced him to write a promissory note for UAH 1 million (USD 35,000) in the name of the politician, as well as signing the transfer of his luxury car. After that, the entrepreneur was released. The suspects were arrested in unknown circumstances. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

5. (TURKEY, 03/10/18) Saudi journalist goes missing in Turkey
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, contributor for the Washington Post, and critical of the kingdom’s crown prince, has gone missing while on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 3 October. According to his Facebook page, we was arrested at the consulate. The Saudi government denied the information and said Khashoggi left immediately after visiting the consulate. However, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the Turkish authorities believed the journalist was still being held there. Meanwhile, The US State Department said it was aware of Khashoggi’s disappearance and it was seeking more information. FULL ARTICLE

6. (YEMEN, 03/10/18) Politian dies after abduction in Aden

A government official declared that the head of Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party was discovered dead a day after he was abducted on 2 October in the southern city of Aden. The body of Abdullah Shuaina was found inside a car in Aden’s district of KhorMaksar. According to investigations, Shuaina died only hours after he was abducted. He was taken by masked armed men close to his house in the Mansourah district. No more details have been made available. According to local media, government officials, including high-ranking security commanders and intelligence officers, have been the prime targets of a spite of kidnapping incidents and armed attacks launched by unknown gunmen in recent days. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (YEMEN, 03/10/18) Houthis free sons of murdered former president

Two of the sons of assassinated former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh were released by the Houthi rebels on 3 October, according to a Yemeni official. Salah and Maydan Saleh were captured by the Houthis in December 2017, when their father’s forces turned against the rebels in a conflict that cost former president Saleh his life. A General People’s Congress (GPC) source said Saleh’s sons were released by a presidential pardon issued by president of the [Houthi] Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, following Omani mediation efforts. However, local analysts believe the Houthis released Saleh’s sons in exchange for a large ransom, much needed by the group in the current economic crisis. Saleh’s brother Mohammed and the son of his nephew Tareq, Afash, are reportedly still being held by the Houthis. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

8. (LIBYA, 02/10/18) Former Benghazi mayor abducted by gunmen

Former Benghazi mayor and deputy spy chief of the east-based Interim Government Ahmed Araibi was kidnapped in Benghazi. Eyewitnesses said gunshots by “military men” in “five military vehicles” could be heard during the abduction. Brigadier General Araibi was reportedly abducted with his son from his house, which although being equipped with CCTV cameras, did not capture the event as they were broken by the kidnappers. Although the kidnapping has not been claimed, local sources said the kidnappers are members of the Salafist brigade Tariq Bin Ziyad, loyal to Khalifa Haftar. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

9. (PAKISTAN, 02/10/18) Court rejects appeal for acquittal of suspect in Belgian national’s kidnapping

The Supreme Court on 2 October rejected an appeal for acquittal filed by a police officer who was handed a life sentence for the kidnapping for ransom of a Belgian citizen of Pakistani-origin. According to the prosecution, police officer Mohammad Zubair kidnapped the foreign tourist in the city of Kharian, Punjab province, and received a ransom payment of Rs200,000 (USD 1,700). It is not clear when the events took place. FULL ARTICLE