At least 185 people are currently held hostage by terrorists. Should we negotiate (and pay) or effectively condemn these people to years of captivity and possibly violent death?
If you are a brother, mother or otherwise related to a hostage your answer is likely to be “pay!”. If you’re wealthy you might embark on plans to bring the release about yourself.
If you are unrelated and learn about the terrible situation for a given hostage, you’re most likely to answer “no”. Of the many reasons given, these three takes the lions share:
- extortion attempts by terrorists, or anyone really, should be met with a firm no and backed up by adequate force. Going into negotiations with criminals demanding ransom should be used as a stall tactic while “other plans” are drawn up and brought to execution.
- paying is the worst that can be done since it provides resources to the enemy (sometimes considerable in size) that will then later be used in more crimes and eventually could end up killing or maiming many more than was freed be the ransom.
- paying will be an incitement to repeat the fund-raising experience and – since it cannot be kept secret – invite other criminal groups to try their hand too.
If you are in government things are quite a bit more complicated. A catch-22 situation really. You must be seen to stand strong against extortions and any other form of coercion attempts (so no negotiations and certainly no payments) but at the same time take measures to right the wrong. The trouble with that part is that in spite of all the military gadgetry available and barracks full of units with “special” somewhere in their designation, no commander can be found who says “it can be done” (without the need for body bags for the hostages or expensive “special” grunts)….
The terrorists, on the other hand, do not hold all the cards either. A dead hostage is worth zero. Less even, since there is a real risk of repercussions later on (Governments in this sort of situations have a very good memory – unlike when their members need help recalling their campaign promises). And there is this dastard issue of all them satellites and drones whizzing past overhead day and night. You also have to keep your excited young rebels from gang-raping any of the female assets because that would seriously degrade the negotiation position in future repeat actions.
The ICC Commercial Crime Services reports on crimes world-wide affecting commerce. In relation to hostage taking, Read more
Are you ok with that?
Actually, the figures are much worse: The above number comes from the UN and is based on police records from 80 countries in 2008 (as for the remaining 113 UN members you are allowed to wonder if they are serious about their membership). But that may just be the small tip of a gigantic iceberg: Researchers suggest that between 70% and 95% of all rape crimes are never reported. Taking the 70% estimate would mean that more than 1.3M women are raped or sexually assaulted each year. And very close to 100% of it done by men. Add to that domestic violence, harassment and other acts considered criminal and the scale of male aggression becomes staggering. If these “incidents” had a single pathological label, it would be the biggest entry in the the World Health Organization’s database. A rampant disease of sexual violence.
What’s wrong with us men?
I know that numbers on this issue are fraught with uncertainties, uneven data capture and reporting norms, giving rise to hot debates. Some (mostly women) say they are much bigger and others (mostly men) that women cry “rape” whenever it suits them. In the absence of quality data and tools, that discussion leads down the shouting-match alley, which, as we all know, is blind. A situation that ought to motivate some serious initiatives to at least produce better data.
Unfortunately the data capture and reporting effort seem to deteriorate: Over the past years the number of UN member states submitting their reports have dropped from 84 to 57. In 2010, less than a third of UN members cared to send any data at all. And that is not because sexual violence is on the decline. Quite the contrary: In 2009, 73 countries reported a total of 420.000 police recorded offenses while in 2010 (the most recent data), only 57 countries send their data, yet the total reached 373.000.
So who aren’t reporting? Read the rest …
Mohamed Merah’s killing spree in southern France has made the incompetence of French anti-terror security units come into broad daylight.
At the time of writing this, Mohamed Merah is still in his apartment in Toulouse surrounded by the 160 strong French anti terror corps also known by their acronym: “RAID”. He has been chatting with them on and off for almost 30 hours now. Oh and he sent three of them to hospital with new holes in their skin that needed some serious stitching. One more thing: He lives in a so-called “raised ground floor“ apartment. The obvious question is: How is it possible that a single individual with zero hostages, completely alone in the entire housing block, can successfully resist arrest (or death) for that length of time – facing the toughest, top trained and most well equipped anti terror corps France has to offer? Read on: It gets worse …