Kidnap and Ransom

News, information and statistics about kidnap for ransom activities. Data about the security threat is collected from intelligence reports, security companies, kidnap for ransom insurance brokers, hostage negotiators and other public information.

Security officials in Nigeria reported that they destroyed 748 illegal refineries in the region in the first four months of 2013. In addition to breaking down the refineries, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta arrested 498 suspects who were involved in oil theft and oil bunkering. 55 suspected kidnappers were also arrested during the operations.

545 boats, 26 barges and 18 vessels were also seized.

Source:  “Nigeria: Oil Theft – JTF Destroys 748 Illegal Refineries, Arrests 498 Suspects,” All Africa, May 7, 2013.

In the first three months of 2013, there were 66 reported attacks by sea pirates around the world. The number of attacks in the first quarter of 2013 was down 35 percent from the 102 attacks during the first quarter of 2012.

Between January to March 2013, there were 5 attacks in Somalia, down from 36 cases in 2012.

In the Gulf Region, there were a reported 15 pirate attacks and 3 hijackings during the first quarter of 2013.

In Nigeria, there were 11 pirate attacks in the first three months of 2013.

Source:  Associated Press, “World Sea Piracy Down 35 Percent in First Quarter,” ABC News, April 15, 2013.

Between 625 to 1,970 kidnappings took place in Venezuela in 2012, according to risk consultancy group Control Risks.

The criminal justice system of Venezuela does not keep official statistics on the number of kidnappings, but did report that security officials facilitated the safe return of 413 hostages in 2012.

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Source:  Corina Pons & Randall Woods, “Venezuelan Ransom Funds Hedge Against Kidnaps as Vote Looms,” Bloomberg, April 11, 2013.


Sea piracy off the coast of Somalia was estimated to have cost the global economy between $5.7 Billion to $6.1 Billion in 2012. The total economic costs were 12.5 percent lower than 2011.

A portion of the decrease was attributed to the increased security presence in the area. The costs to arm guards travelling on ships increased by nearly 80 percent and was costing the shipping industry between $1.15 Billion to $1.53 Billion.  The rise in private security led to the decrease in international military operations, whose costs fell 14 percent to $1.09 Billion.

The amont of ransom paid out to pirates in Somalia also decreased in 2012. The Somali Pirates were estimated to have received $31.75 Million in ransom payments in 2012, compared to $159.62 Million the year before.

Source:  Reuters, “Global cost of Somali piracy down as higher security deters attacks,” Yahoo News, April 9, 2013.

According to figures by the United States National Counter-Terrorism Center, there were 6,050 people who were kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists around the world.

This figure does not include other forms of kidnapping, such as parental kidnapping.

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Source:  “Hostage-taking: Trading places,” The Economist, March 16, 2013.

According to intelligence by security service officials in Lebanon, at the beginning of 2013 there were at least 37 active kidnappers who were targeting  members of wealthy families. All of the kidnappers were connected to known crime families and organizations.

One member of a kidnapping group told a reporter from GlobalPost that the kidnappers target businessmen that are wealthy, but not too rich where they would be able to hire private security guards. The target would be monitored for two weeks before the act took place. While in captivity, the hostage would be well fed and treated as a “guest”.

The family of a kidnapping hostage reportedly paid a ransom of $25,000 in February after their 12 year old son was kidnapped.

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Source:  Jeff Neumann, “The new business of Lebanon: kidnapping,” GlobalPost, March 1, 2013.

According to the United States Treasury Department, the average kidnap for ransom payment to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was $4.5 Million per hostage in 2010.

In 2011, the average amount of ransom paid increased to $5.4 Million per hostage.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is based in Mali and operates throughout Northern Africa.

Source: Adam Nossiter, “Millions in Ransoms Fuel Militants’ Clout in West Africa,” New York Times, December 12, 2012.

There were a total of 297 pirate attacks that took place around the world in 2012, according to statistics collected by the International Maritime Bureau. 28 ship vessels were hijacked and 585 crew members were taken hostage and held for ransom during the year. 6 people were killed during the year.

Sea piracy off the coast of Somalia decreased to 75 pirate attacks, compared to 237 in 2011. Somali pirates were able to hijack 14 ships in 2012, compared to the 28 that they held for ransom the year before.

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In 2011, there were 439 reported pirate attacks around the world.

Source:  Associated Press, “World Sea Piracy Falls to Five-Year Low in 2012,” ABC News, January 16, 2013.

The worldwide average ransom demand in 2012 was reported to be $2 Million, according to Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

Over half of the kidnap for ransom demands and activities took place in Asia and Africa, with a quarter of the incidents taking place in Latin America. Back in 2004, 55 percent of the kidnapping took place in Latin America.

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Source:  Lily Kuo, “Kidnapping for ransom is spreading across the world,” Quartz, January 10, 2013.

According to figures collected by the International Maritime Bureau, there were 72 recorded pirate attacks around the Horn of Africa in 2012.

In 2011, there were 236 recorded pirate attacks.

Source:  “Piracy: Privateers,” Economist, January 12, 2013.