2011
11.29

AskMen – What You Need To Know

“Where you have a huge poor population and you start walking around around in wealthy areas, you’re a target for mugging, extortion and kidnap.”

These days, stories of hostage-taking and pirate activity at sea are becoming increasingly common. Just recently, the Kenyan tourist board warned European visitors to the country to stay away from travelling within 100 miles of the Somalian border, a month after Brit Judith Tebbutt was taken hostage at her Kenyan beach resort, along with her husband, who was shot dead.

Author and former SAS man Andy McNab is someone who knows a thing or two about the psychology behind kidnapping. The writer of the best-selling war book of all time, Bravo Two Zero author is involved with the MoD as well as the army.

McNab is also on the board of a military company specialising in negotiating with kidnappers for the release of hostages. Here he fills AskMen in on how you can keep yourself safe on your travels.

How do people find themselves in kidnap situations?
The way you see it in in the media is very clear cut: you’ve got a load of guys running around with machine guns, they’re pretty thick and they just pick people off of boats and demand money. In fact, it’s much more sophisticated than that. These lads are much more switched on, even to the point where they use social media, so they’ll go onto Facebook and hit Twitter just to see who’s blogging to say they’re going on holiday on a world cruise to the Seychelles. These guys get out there and go and find them.

What are kidnappers usually interested in?
It’s a mixture of people who get themselves into this situation. If you look at Paul and Rachel Chandler, they were just a retired couple on a yachting holiday.

If you’re on the coast of Africa, the interest of kidnappers isn’t so much in cargo; they’re interested in people because they know there’s emotion involved, and that people will do what they can to give money to get their families released. In South East Asia on the other hand, the kidnappers don’t give a shit about people; they’re more interested in the cargo, so you’re more likely just get shot and dumped off.

Where are you most at risk?
Wherever you have a huge poor population and you start walking around around in wealthy areas, you’re a target for mugging , you’re a target for extortion and you’re a target for kidnap.

The capital for this kind of activity is South America, and that’s where the kidnapping business that arose in the eighties started, in places like Columbia and Mexico. But the truth is, anywhere you present yourself as having loads of money you’re a target. That doesn’t mean you have to be a millionaire, because for example, 50 grand to a poor person in say, Mexico, is the equivalent of half a million to you or I.

So what’s your advice on keeping safe?
If you don’t have to go to these places, don’t go. And if you do go, don’t flaunt the fact that you’re well off. We all know that even if you’ve got your rip off Rolex you’re going to attract the wrong attention. Even in the UK, one of the reasons muggings are so high in Notting Hill is because people walk around with loads of bling on. So you’ve just got to be sensible.

How do you keep yourself alive you do get nabbed abroad?
Once you’re lifted, there are two thoughts of approach for the best next step. One theory says if you’ve got an opportunity to escape, then go for it and take your chances. The other theory is to not do that, because in certain places, you being kept alive is within the interests of the kidnappers.

If you know there’s going to be some process to get you out (for example you work for a company where they’ve got kidnapping insurance), then you stand a very high chance of getting out by not presenting yourself as a belligerent type of person. So if you are easy to deal with and you’re thankful for everything you get to the point of sub-ordinance, you’re effectively doing your job to stay alive and as healthy as possible.

Source: AskMen Website