If Kidnapped Abroad, Stay Calm, And Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Navy SEAL Team 6 commandos recently rescued an American citizen who was kidnapped from his home in southern Niger.

The kidnapped man, whose parents are missionaries, lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near the border with Nigeria.

According to American and Nigerian officials, armed assailants confronted the man while he was with his family in his backyard and asked him for money. He offered them $40, but the gunmen seized him and took him away on their motorbikes. The captors demanded nearly one million dollars in ransom for his release.

An American official claimed the assailants were criminals who planned to sell the man to terrorist groups in the region. They had taken the 27-year-old American to northern Nigeria. Authorities were able to track his captors' cell phones and rescued him there.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said the victim is safe and "in the care of the U.S. Department of State." He was allegedly taken to an American airbase in Niamey, Niger's capital, where he was reunited with his family.

Officials in Niger and Nigeria contributed to the swift operation. All but one of the captors was killed during the raid. No American military personnel were injured, nor was the victim. "Navy Commandos Rescue American Kidnapped in Niger" www.nytimes.com (Oct. 31, 2020).

Commentary and Checklist

High net-worth people, their families, and staff are kidnapping targets, especially when traveling. The best prevention step is to avoid traveling to places where kidnapping is a higher-than-normal possibility. To determine the risk, go to the U.S. State Department’s website for travelers to determine if a destination is high-risk.

If the worst happens, then there is safety advice on how to navigate a very difficult situation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce provides its employees the following advice on how to survive if kidnapped or taken hostage:


·      The best chance for escape during an abduction is early on while in a public area. Make as much commotion as you safely can to let those around you know that you are being kidnapped.

·      If you are forced into a vehicle, do not struggle. Kidnappers are more likely to harm or detain those who are confrontational.

·      Follow your captors’ instructions. Do not resist if your captors try to drug you. If their goal is to make you unconscious, it is better to be drugged than beaten.

·      If you are conscious while you are bound, focus on calming your mind and paying attention to every detail you can see, hear, and smell. Do your best to memorize the route. This information is extremely helpful should you have the chance to escape, or for authorities to find your kidnappers after you are released.

·      If kidnappers interrogate you, be cooperative but avoid sharing any information that could be used against you. Keep your answers short and never admit to any accusations, such as being an intelligence agent. Maintain your pride without being obstinate or antagonizing your captors.

·      Observe your environment and try to determine the layout of the building.

·      Learn everything you can about your captors, including their names, numbers, rank, physical attributes, and habits.

·      Memorize their schedule and try to find any vulnerabilities that you could use to escape.

·      Try to establish a rapport with your captors by talking about family, sports, and hobbies.

·      Ask them to teach you their language if you do not know it.

·      Speak normally, without whining or complaining.

·      If you build a relationship with your kidnappers, you can ask them in a reasonable manner for anything you need to be more comfortable.

   ·      If authorities come to rescue you, follow their instructions. Drop   to the floor and remain still, or stand still, to avoid being shot. Do not run. Do not resist if the rescuer handcuffs you while determining if you are one of the kidnappers.

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