Kidnap in Iraq


Four people, including three children, were kidnapped by criminals then freed by the authorities in Iraq last week. In recent months consular warnings have continued to remind foreign nationals of the risk of abduction still present in the country. With a rise in foreigners travelling to the country it may only be a matter of time before one is abducted. Every week an average of one to two Iraqis are seized and held for ransom. However, with security gradually improving in the country the risk may no longer be as relevant as it used to be. The last foreign national to be seized was a US citizen of Iraqi origin, abducted from Karradah district in central Baghdad in early 2010.

Current Trends

Kidnaps continue to occur across the country, from Mosul to Basrah. Earlier in the year a kidnapping cell was arrested in the normally quiet district of al-Faw in the far south, while Baghdad and urbanised parts of the central provinces remain affected by the stubbornly persistent risk. Most victims are held for only a few days, and while some are freed in police operations, some are also released after their families have paid a ransom. Current settlement figures stand at around US$50,000 per person.

The Next Target

With a growing number of foreign nationals travelling to the south of the country there are fears that this may be the scene of the next big abduction, although a credible risk to foreigners also exists in the capital as well. The energy sector may be a particularly attractive target, given the perception that affected companies will be able to pay for a ransom. There are also concerns that politically motivated groups may also wish to target the sector in order to make their demands felt in both the government and international community.

Tackling the Problem

Current abduction rates are much lower than during the years prior to 2008; then Iraqis and foreigners were abducted on a much more regular basis. Nonetheless, the lingering presence of kidnap groups continues to pose a potential risk for investors and business travellers arriving in the country. One hugely positive development in the fight against kidnap has been a strong rise in the professionalism of the Iraqi police forces. Once heavily involved in the kidnap trade the police have undergone significant training. Levels of corruption have fallen and police links to underground militia groups have weakened. Over the past two years a growing number of kidnap rings have been broken up while tens of captives, including several children, have been freed. The growing capabilities of the police forces are a major asset in the fight against kidnap.

AKE Recommendations

For now, it remains unsafe to travel out into the Iraqi streets without a degree of protection. Adequate insurance should also be considered, with an inclusion of K&R (Kidnap and Ransom) cover. Companies sending employees to Iraq should also consider crisis management training. Travel planners, administrative personnel and health and safety officers should be prepared and well briefed on what to do in the event of an abduction. The likelihood of being kidnapped in Iraq is statistically very low, but companies and their employees still need to prepare themselves or they will present an opportunity to the criminal and militant groups still present in the country.

Further Analysis

AKE has recently produced a worldwide kidnap and ransom report. If you would like to obtain a copy please contact the AKE intelligence department at intel@akegroup.com or call +44 (0) 207 816 5454.

AKE Ltd

John F Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE Group, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found at www.akegroup.com/iraq

You can also follow John on twitter at www.twitter.com/johnfdrake


3 Responses to Kidnap in Iraq

  1. johnfdrake January 31, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Following on from this article, an abducted woman was freed over the weekend by a police operation in the Jihad district of Baghdad. http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=140765&l=1

  2. […] of specific targeting. A previously abducted Iraqi national was also found dead, indicative that kidnap for ransom remains a relevant and potentially fatal concern in the northern provinces. More positively, […]

  3. […] Babil. Mosul in the north of the country also experienced a series of bombings and shootings. Two kidnap incidents have also been reported in the country over the past 24 hours, following a lull in abductions […]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekly Security Update for 25th May 2011 | Brussels news - May 25, 2011

    […] of specific targeting. A previously abducted Iraqi national was also found dead, indicative that kidnap for ransom remains a relevant and potentially fatal concern in the northern provinces. More positively, […]

  2. Weekly Security Update for 22nd September 2011 | Iraq Business News - September 22, 2011

    […] Babil. Mosul in the north of the country also experienced a series of bombings and shootings. Two kidnap incidents have also been reported in the country over the past 24 hours, following a lull in abductions […]