Archive for August, 2007

Kidnapped 6 – Meeting O’Hara

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Just before leaving London Cyclops produced a file he had managed to put together on our little friend O’Hara. He was a t pains to stress that it had to be considered carefully because he had been unable to verify a lot of what he had found. In a nut shell this is what he could tell me. Of Irish decent (no shit Sherlock with a name like O’Hara I would never have guessed) had been raised in Virginia. Dad was in the CIA but exact capacity not confirmed. His son had gone to University before going into the Marine Corps. After the military he went to the Washington DC Police department. He had married a woman called Sue who was a data analyst who worked at Langley. That was it.

We flew from London to N and then had to get an internal flight to PH. On arrival at the first international airport we were given the customary welcome from the customs. True to form various items of scuba gear were “Confiscated” but this meant that we had a better story for going to dive shops and asking for other stuff to be sent from the UK. Have to be honest I would love to see the poor bastard trying to use my old regulator 30m down. You have to laugh.

After a long slog we eventually got to PH and this is where we split up. I got a taxi on my own to the hotel and checked in separately. The others followed on separately. By the time we had all got sorted out and settled in it etc it was time to eat and then hit the sack. We all needed to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next day.

It was going to be a busy first day, and we needed to acclimatise to the heat and suffocating humidity. Two of the team would rest up and take it easy ready to cover the late shift. Two would follow me with a view to following O’Hara and two would baby sit me. The other two would start sniffing out things we would need if we had to go and rescue JR. We would need to hire two boats for diving, plus at least one 4×4 (preferably a Toyota Hi-Lux) plus some essential gear such as flares, diver recall flashes and other bits and bobs.

I intended to visit O’Hara first thing, which is just what I did. I set off early with my two baby sitters and surveillance car following. I tell you something car hire is bloody outrageously expensive in N. A little VW polo was about £600 for a week, PH did say we only wanted to rent it, not buy the fucking thing.

I rang O’Hara from outside the offices of the company. He told me that there had been contact from the kidnappers and that they had sent a video showing JR.

“JR says he is OK and that we should comply with the kidnappers wishes to the letter or they will kill him. He was very nervous and his agitation showed as he could hardly keep his hands still” O’Hara said reassuringly.

“Oh well I will be able to see it for myself soon won’t I” I said

“It will take ages for it to get the tape to you by post” He said dismissively

“Best you don’t send it then” I said

“Yes probably best” he agreed.

“Come and sign me in and you can show it to me”

“What do you mean” he said

On the third floor a man appeared at a window. He was quite big, late forties, sandy coloured hair and he looked very Irish. It had to be O’Hara. I smiled and gave a little childish wave and he lifted his left hand limply in acknowledgment. A pained expression crossed his face. I think he was trying to smile but I wouldn’t put money on it.

“I thought you were going to contact me before you came” He rasped

“Did I say that, sorry I didn’t realise. Oh well, now I am here perhaps you could get me signed in and let me see the video.”

I hung up.

I presented myself at reception and almost immediately O’Hara was there and signed me in. He seemed anxious to keep anyone from seeing me and hustled me into a lift up to his office. He prattled on about positive developments and progress etc and kept offering me drinks, tea, coke, coffee, fanta, tea. He was a big man, well over 6’2 and must have weighed in at about 17/18 stone. As a younger man he must have been a bloody strong fit bloke but he had gone slightly to seed. He was just a touch podgy and had a couple of chins plus he was a little out of breath. I noticed he had very slight limp and that his right leg did not bend too easily.

He eventually regained his composure and after much prevaricating about the bush showed me the video. There was JR sitting on a wooden chair in a grubby building made from whitewashed blocks. His hands were moving relentlessly. There were some bits and pieces in the background. The video was not bad quality and there was no shake which indicated that the camera had been mounted not hand held. His face was badly bruised and there appeared to be crusty blood around his eye. He said he had been captured by freedom fighters, who wanted a fairer share of the oil wealth and that they wanted to highlight the plight of the ordinary people who were starving. His hands kept moving and touching each other. He went on to say that no specific demands for a ransom had been made but a generous contribution to the people of the area was expected. All the time he spoke he stared at the camera emotionless and all the time his hands kept moving.

Trained soldier.

O’Hara switched off the TV.

“Poor guy’s shitting himself and who can blame him huh?”

“I would like a copy of the tape please” was my response

“Well gee I don’t know if I can do that” he said

“Why not?”

“Well its company property” he said quickly

“Is it. How exactly do you work that out Mr O’Hara?”

“Well he is our employee and they sent the tape to us, that’s how”

“Good, well that means I wont have to part with any money and that you and your company have presumably made arrangements to make a generous donation as requested” I said very quietly and politely.

He looked at me open mouthed

“Have I said something you don’t understand Mr O’Hara?” I asked.

“Well no but look you’ve kind of gotten the wrong end of the stick” He said amiably.

“Have I, how’s that” I asked all innocently.

“Well…” He paused for a minute “Look I tell you what I will get you a copy of the tape but for Chrissakes don’t go telling anyone please” he said in hushed conspiratorial tones

“I would really appreciate it Mr O’Hara it will be our little secret” I said in an ever so English way.

O’Hara took the tape and went out of the room and came back a few minutes later. About five minutes after that there was a knock at the door and a young woman handed O’Hara two tapes. O’Hara put one on his desk and handed me the other . I took the tape, stood up and walked to the video player and pushed the tape into the machine. I prodded the on button and the television bonged into life. The tape appeared to be blank and then there was JR. I watched the tape in its entirety and then pressed eject and took the tape.

“What did you do that for?” asked O’Hara

I looked at him very hard.

“What do we do now” I asked

“Well, we wait till they contact us again with more details” He said

“Where do you think he is?” I asked

“Jeez I wouldn’t have a clue, this place is a giant swamp with a mild infection of mankind” he quipped.

“Could you show me where JR was snatched from please?” I asked.

“I suppose I could, but gee I don’t know what good it will do you”

We left the office and went to an underground car park which stank of car fumes and piss. We approached a large black Mercedes which O’Hara opened and got into. Talk about keeping a low profile in a place where just being white is a good enough reason to get snatched. Any way I got in and as I did was able to pop a vehicle tracker under the seat without O’Hara noticing. Then we we were off.

The traffic was a bloody nightmare but in the air conditioned comfort of the Merc it was a minor irritation. I saw our cars behind us. They stayed with us as we made our way out of the city. In the hazy distance I could make out the twisted silver pipes and towers of a massive refineries. Flames flickered high above the industrial mass. The area was a sprawl of small houses mad from concrete block with corrugated metal roofs. In between the houses and communes there was thick green trees and bushes.

Eventually the houses started to thin and the vegetation became more prolific. We came to a stretch of road with a wide muddy river on one side and less permanent looking shacks on the other. There were sort of wooden moorings at the bank of the river.

O’Hara stopped the car in a sort of lay by where an old woman was cooking food on a wood fire.

“I don’t know exactly where it happened but I think it was about here” O’Hara said.

“Have you been here before?” I asked

“Err no, no I haven’t” He admitted.

“Was Jr alone when he was taken” I asked

“No he was with another guy, a Belgian” Said O’Hara

“What were they doing here?”

“I have to level with you, I don’t know”

“What happened to the vehicle JR was travelling in”

“What do you mean?” He asked

“Well Mr O’Hara JR and the Belgian just didn’t beam down from the fucking Star ship Enterprise did they? I bet a pound to a pinch of shit they didn’t walk here either, so what happened to the vehicle they were in” I asked fairly forcefully.

“It was a barge” he admitted

“A barge, as in floats on the fucking water?”

“Yeah we use for moving supplies, JR and the Belgian were employed to guard it”

I got out of the car. The heat and humidity engulfed me like a massive hot wet flannel or mega sauna. It don’t take no genius to work out why they have always called West Africa the White mans grave. I could smell food, wood smoke and vegetation, but cutting through those odours was the unmistakable smell of sulphur and noxious gas. The air filter of the executive Mercs keep the real smell of this part of Africa from intruding too much on those rich bods who drive around in them. Of course the poor bastard who live there have to put up with the gas, but hey, who at petroleum HQ gives a toss.

I looked over the wide muddy river and almost on que a large barge came into view. It was in the centre of the river. So, JR was not in a car as I has believed but on a big fuck off barge in the middle of a river. So how on Earth did he get involved in dealing with a moody accident”

I walked over to the food stall. The old woman looked at me as if I had beamed down form Mars. I asked for some moi-moi which are white beans wrapped in leaves and cooked on the fire. She didn’t have any. but she did have akara which is a bean cake and usually cost about 5 naira a slice thats about 20p or 39cents. I have to be honest and say that I don’t care too much akara but I wanted to buy something. She gave me a slice and asked for 15 naira. I told her it was expensive. she gave me a beady look and a crooked smile and told me that if I could afford to ride around in a nice big car like that pointing at the Merc, I could afford 15 Naira. I laughed and said it was not mine and that if I could afford a big car like that I wouldn’t quibble about the price. She threw her head back and laughed a big good humoured sort of witches cackle. I gave her the 15 naira anyway and she said thank you very much and I was walking back to the car but turned round and went back to the woman.

I asked here if she had seen anything of JR’s abduction. She looked down and mumbled ” I not seen anything Sir.”

“My name is Norman the man who was taken is my nephew”

“I am sorry Mr Norman but it is too dangerous, I have five children and when my husband died I was left with nothing. I cook here to make us money. It is not much but we eat and and shelter and I can buy water to wash the children. If I talk to you, these people will hit me and not let me sell food and we will starve. They might even kill me or my children.”

“I understand. Do have a coke?”

“Yes Norman but it is warm because I have no ice” she said

“That doesn’t matter will you give me one please”

She passed me the coke and I passed her 2000 naira which is probably what she would make in a day.

“I do not have change for that money Mr Norman”

“Its not for the coke its for you and your kids”

“I cannot take it from you Mr Norman”

“What’s your name madam”

“Mary”

“Please take it Mary, I used to live in this country when I was a boy and my sister is still here, please take it as a little present”

She protested some more but I blew her a kiss and said goodbye.

“Mr Norman there are some huts way down the river one has a silver piece of roof”

“Thank you Mary. Stay lucky”

“You too Norman and God be with you”

“And with you”

I walked back to the car, where O’Hara was sitting impatiently. I got into the cool car. It was like diving into a fridge.

“Jeez you gonna eat that shit?” said O’Hara with disgust.

“What do you think I do with it?” I snorted.

“You could get sick eating that stuff” He huffed “You gotta be careful eating shit like that and talking to these people, this aint London you know its a real dangerous place”

“Oh I know that O’Hara believe you me, I know that. But I will tell you something you never quite know where danger is going to come from”

I ate my grub. It was bloody awful, but all the time we sat there in one place will have given Cyclops and the others time to plot where we were from the tracker.

“Would you mind taking me back to my hotel please” I asked

“Anything else you would like me to do for you sir” he said in a slightly mocking tone.

“Not for the moment O’Hara, but I will let you know when that changes.”

Kidnapped 5 – Preparing To Go

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Officially there have been over 200 reported Kidnappings in N in recent months and nobody had ever been killed. Bollocks, what about the ones the media did not know about? Like JR for instance.

I know this country well and I know how reality and the official line are always fucking poles apart. In February alone there were four people killed in one abduction. A fifth person snatched at the same time was later released but had sustained serious injuries. As it is, I know of three people who have failed to materialise after being kidnapped this year in the self same country. As it was there was no news of JRs abduction any where in the media. I wonder how the powers that be answer that little question.

Our research had established that the ransoms paid were quite a bit higher than the figures mentioned by O’Hara. Mind you, talking of O’Hara, there was still no news from him after 48 hours plus we had lost one signal from JRs positioning services. The good news was that the other had not moved. It was agreed that it was time to press ahead and that we should bite the bullet and go.

Cyclops had established that JR did indeed have what amounts to kidnap insurance. I spoke with a representative of that company. He sounded like a typical Nancy public school boy with fuck all experience of the dirty side of his business. I suspect he had never left his air conditioned office in the city for the rigours of hostage negotiation. He talked fluent jargon and got on my tits after a few minutes.

“So then Mr Platt what are you going to do to get JR released?”

He took a deep breath and launched into a speech that went like this

“Well, we will adopt a strategy in relationship to and in accordance with local enforcements agencies and other interested parties. In addition or crisis managements team will put in place our policy of support and counselling for the family of the hostage and will facilitate negations to ensure a successful resolution of the situation”

“What does that mean exactly?”

“Pardon”

“What does all that mean? What are you going to do in real terms?”

“Well, as I said we will…..”

“Mr Platt” I interrupted “I am not interested in job speak. Do you have a dedicated negotiator or representative in the area?”

“Not as such”

“you mean no then.”

“Well err yes I suppose you could say that”

“Are you sending one?

“Well not exactly, there are a couple of people we use locally, but they are freelance and held on retainers. A lot depends on where the incident takes place and who is available”

“I can understand that, but who do you use to secure the release of hostages”

“Well we never get involved directly with the release and the negotiation It depend on the circumstance and the company. The negotiator is usually a third party and we pay their fees. Its very tricky you see because we never pay ransoms as such. But we arrange for funds to be made available to negotiators who pay the fees as they see fit.”

“How much do you expect to pay?” I asked

“I cant possibly tell you that” He spluttered.

“Why not?”

“Well because its err well erm not done is it?”

“I don’t know Mr Platt you’re the insurance man you tell me” I said

There was silence for a few seconds.

“It is just not done” He said flatly and firmly.

Well that was as clear as mud. So, as I understand it the insurance people don’t pay a ransom. They pay a third party a fee plus out of pocket expenses for information or whatever they want to call it. The third party resolves the issue by paying the kidnappers.

I wanted to go on and ask Mr Platt if they would pay somebody other than their usual negotiators to locate JR and secure his release but decided against it as I did not know where he and O’Hara would fit together. I didn’t suspect any naughtiness on Mr Platts part at this point, but I just did not want to overplay my hand. I got the feeling my call was interrupting his fagging of the office junior, who was probably toasting crumpets or something very Tom Brown school dayish.

 

The good news was that Tom Cook had sorted flights and hotels plus everything was in place for visas for us and they would ready for collection. We would be able to go the next day. We were to be travelling as a scuba club to look at marine life and especially for large Manta Rays and turtles which nest along the coast line. To this end we had packed bits of Mickey Mouse diving paraphernalia such as gloves, regulators, masks and a few other bits and bobs. Nothing too expensive you understand, as we did not want and really good gear to be “confiscated” by those naughty little customs chappies. It’s an old African custom you know.

With out hotel reservations sorted it was time to go shopping on t’internet and to get some goodies sent to out hotel that I really did not want to take in my luggage. I had to hope that UPS or TNT or whoever were up to getting the stuff to us pdq. It is a lottery but there is fuck all choice in these circumstances.

Although we were all travelling together, only I was going to see O’Hara. I had no intention of announcing my arrival and wanted to keep that as a surprise and to see if it acted as a catalyst. Some of the team would baby sit me and he rest would keep his nibs under surveillance. I really wanted to see what O’Hara was up to. We would be on the ground for a day or so before we started looking for JR and trouble.

Time to kiss those tear filled Estonian eyes goodbye.

Kidnapped 4 – Immediate Response

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Having put the phone down to O’Hara, I was spitting bullets. I had more than just a few questions and these made me feel very uneasy as to how this thing was going to end. For starters, If JR was alone how did O’Hara know how many men had snatched him? How did he know he had been taken by boat and so on and so forth, why was he so het up about the kidnap insurance. I had bad vibes about this geezer and I just could not trust him. Never ignore that initial gut feeling.

However those feeling and misgivings would have to wait, I needed to get a few practical things sorted pdq. Time is not on your side and you just cannot do everything yourself. You need to get a team together quickly. A response is not just the blokes on the ground, but the support team back at home. Somebody needs to make travel arrangements, someone else needs to do background research and monitor developments and then there is the need to communicate all relevant information as it becomes available. For the whole thing to work you need to have someone who will think on his feet remain detached and calm and who you can trust implicitly. This man will assume operational control and become office manager. I use Cyclops.

Cyclops is an ex Royal Marine called Andy. He joined the Police after leaving the services and became a detective. Unfortunately, he lost an eye in a car accident and was medically retired – hence the snappy nickname. Cyclops has both military and civilian police experience and shed loads of savey. He also has and very good way with people and has an eye for the ladies. Importantly he is used to the administration that goes with running an operation or investigation. Just what I need.
I rang Cyclops and explained the situation. He and JR were Green Death together and go back a long time. He did not need asking twice. He got stuck into ringing round to see just who was available for a quick trip away to somewhere exotic and hot. If we cannot get a good team together there was fuck all point in going. We needed blokes with African experience and who were well up to the environment we were headed into as much as the task we were undertaking. Its horses for courses, there are some top lads available, but if they sun burn easily or cant stand the high temperatures they would be as useful as a chocolate tea pot.
No2 on my list of things to do was to see if JR, was carrying any tracking devices. There are a variety of devices available which either use GPS via mobile phones or satellite tracking.I checked through my records and found that indeed JR did have a mobile phone tracking service and a worldwide sat tracker. The question now was did he still have them with him and had he activated the sat track? Of course he was going to be searched by his abductors and they would half inch his dog and bone. The sat tracker though would confuse them – I hoped and they would not know what it was. To look at it looks a bit like a pager or bleeper and has three buttons. The chances are that the kidnappers would trash this if they found it or just thow it away, but at least it would give us a lead as to where to look. Of course good old O’Hara had told us that JR had been taken by boat so that would have given us a starter.

The sat trackers work with a variety of mapping services. In this case JR’s service used an online mapping service and eventually we got a location. How accurate that was would remained to be seen but it was a start. Of course the naughty little tykes might just move him, although I doubted it. Anyway, from what I could see, it would seem about 4 miles along the river from where JR was snatched and near to a little village. However bearing in mind the yucky nature of the terrain in that neck of woods I did not expect to amble up and just find the camp signposted.

My next job was to see if our “Tom Cook” or travel man could sort us flights and visas and stuff at such short notice. It was a quick call and I gave him a rough cover story we would use. In a lot of cases we would arrive at different times from different locations if possible, but in this case our cover story would enable us to arrive together. He said he didn’t think there would be a problem and that he should be able to have everything in place in 3 days max, but he would ring me first thing in the morning for names and other details.

Cyclops rang me back after about an hour or so. We had a team. He ran through the names and we had eight really sound blokes and it was very much a first team. We have all known each other a long time. We have all been held at some time and so all had a sense of what was involved in getting JR back safe and sound. My experience in Z of course was is till fairly fresh in my mind.
Next thing to think about was kit and how we were going to deal with this matter. Time to sit an contemplate in the only room one can shit and contemplate such big jobs. The kidnappers used to be a ramshackle bunch of bone heads armed with clubs and machettes. Now they are fairly well organised and would be well armed no doubt with the good old AK47. In Africa using an AK47 is childs play.
So how were we going to do this and what were we going to use. One has to be discreet, especially in our line of work! One tends to find officials are a might touchy about nine blokes turning up anywhere let alone an African country with suitcases full of guns and grenades. Simon Mann and his chaps who are currently held in Zimbabwe know all about that. Of course, there are ways of acquiring fire power locally, but the more people you speak to the better the chances of attracting unwarranted attention. However there is more than one way to skin a cat and I had a rough idea as to how to deal with this problem.
Although a little late in the day, it was time to head to my storage facility in Wandsworth to see what Uncle Norman had that might just be handy.

Kidnapped 3 – The Call

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

The phone rang at about 8pm and when I answered it there was a sort of click and echo indicating a long distance call before a smooth American accent started taking

“Hello is that Uncle Norman?”

“Yes it is”

“Hi my name is O’Hara, and represent XXXX petroleum in N”

“Yes, what can I do for you Mr O’Hara?” I said

“Well sir, I am afraid there has been an incident involving your nephew JR”

“What kind of incident?”

“He has been abducted by insurgents and we believe he is being held hostage somewhere along the river delta”

“What happened?” I asked

“Well sit he was travelling alone at about 5pm local time when he stopped at the scene of an accident near the river. When he got out of the car he was grabbed at gun point by five men and forced into a RIB, that’s a sort of inflatable boat with an outboard motor, and taken down the river.”

I know what a RIB is but thought it best not to say anything.

“I see and what is the situation now then Mr O’Hara?”

“Well sir, according to JR’s HR file, we have been in instructed to contract you in the event of an emergency which is the purpose of this call and we are waiting to hear from the abductors. Usually they make a financial demand and we go from there”

“Who is dealing with it at your end?”

“What do you mean?” He asked with a slightly bemused tone.

“I presume that you have a hostage negotiation team on your books to deal with these occurrences”

“That’s me sir, I am authorised by the company to deal with the kidnappers. Usually they make an initial financial demand and we see what we can do. Look sir, these kidnapping are nothing personal or political they are just after a quick buck. But I have to ask you, does your nephew have kidnap insurance?”

“I don’t know Mr O’Hara, I would have thought, that you as his employer, would know that especially if you have access to his HR file?”

“Yes well err we have not really had time to look at all our records. What I need to know is could you as his family put up any money quickly if a demand is made” He stuttered.

“What sort of sum are we talking about?” I asked

“That depends, sometimes it is small other times it is quite a bit” Nothing like being specific I thought.

“Mr Norman how much money do you think you could come up with in a short period of time” He continued

“I don’t rightly know five thousand dollars maybe”

“Is that all?” He sort of gasped an air of indignation in his voice

“Look Mr O’Hara you aren’t being very helpful here. You know the local market place and going rate and I am asking you for guidance. I could probably raise more but to be honest I am not inclined to to go in too high.”

“Oh yeah, right I can see your point. Look, I am sorry if I have been vague, but we have to deal with each situation on its individual merit” He said in placating manner.

“Tell me Mr O’Hara, how long do these people keep hostages before making a demand and if the demands are met how long before the captive is released.”

“The demands are usually made after 36 to 48 hours and if the we pay it takes about 5 days to get everything sorted and the captive released. Sometimes, it takes longer if the case is more complicated” he said.

“How can it be more complicated” I asked

“Well sometimes the people are more important and worth more, sometimes they have insurance and we need to deal with the insurance companies and obviously in these cases there is more negotiation and so it takes more time”

“I see, Ok Mr O’Hara I will give it 12 hours and if he has not been released I will come to N and see what needs to be done”

“WHAT” O’Hara almost yelled down the phone “Why do you want to do that, there is no need, it is a very dangerous situation and your nephew could get hurt and the climate is really bad and…”

“Mr O’Hara, if you expect me to just stump up a load of money and send it to N on your say so you are sadly mistaken. If JR needs help then I will do everything to facilitate his safe release. I think it will be easier if I am there and can be guided by you, after all this is your ball game” I reassured him.

You could hear him relax and his breathing became more normal.

“Oh OK, right, I see, I just didn’t want you getting all stressed out in a foreign country that’s all” he said

“I appreciate that Mr O’Hara but I would prefer it if I was there, you know just to see how things pan out and I can have arrangements in place for a reasonable sum to be available which can be transferred without delay if I am there”

“Well Ok that’s you prerogative” he drawled in a much more relaxed mode.

“Mr O’Hara I hear what you are saying and I will not do anything immediately. I will give it 24 hours and maybe the situation will have started to have resolved itself by then” I said
“OK that would be better I think. So am I right in thinking you could access more than 5K”

“Yes I could”

“Thats great, that gives me more to play with. Ok look I will wait to hear from the kidnappers and you are going to wait 24 hours before arranging to come over but you could get money transferred here sooner if needs be” He confirmed in a far to casual and relaxed manner for my liking
“Yes, but bear in mind that I could make any financial arrangements until tomorrow morning and I would need to sort flights and stuff, so it may actually be a bit longer”

“Ok then Mr Norman I will talk to you soon then” He hung up
Sooner than you think fuck head.

Kidnapped 2 – Basic Advice on Prevention

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

There are a few very basic procedures you can adopt do to avoid getting into trouble generally, but these are essential if you want to reduce the risk of being kidnapped when travelling or working anywhere a little dodgy.

More people create problems for themselves in life simply by being too flash. Any security advisor worth his salt will tell you that appearing conspicuously wealthy in a poor area will attract trouble like flies to a cow pat. Bearing in mind that wealth is always relative, just bear in mind that you don’t have to leave your home country to cause yourself problems by not taking this little gen of advice!

Much of the advice for staying safe revolves around moving from A to B, as this is the time when you are most vulnerable and thus when you are more likely to be snatched.

Here are a few billy basic tips.

Lower your profile, so you don’t stand out. Don’t go round in big shiny vehicles – muddy them up, and get local plates if you can. If you are David Beckham employ loads of bodyguards and hope that they are up to the job. Big bloke does not mean good bloke.

Try to time your approach to traffic lights so you don’t have to actually stop. Easier said than done a lot of the time I know but…..
If you do have to stop always keep enough space between vehicles, so that you are never “sandwiched” between two cars and cannot escape. Apart from anything else it is good road craft. Just remember if you can see the wheels of the car in front of you then you have enough space to manoeuvre round them and get out of trouble should you need to.

Do not stop at accidents unless you are in an area with lots of people. I know this sounds harsh and sad but by friend “in need” can vouch for this piece of advice.

Do not allow patterns to creep into your daily life even more so when living in risky areas. It is easy to not realise how many patterns or routines we get into – you get up, have some toast a shower and leave the house at the same time. Bingo, before you know it your life is 90% the same. Apart from not being good for your mental well being it can create a security risk in some circumstances.

Avoid leaving home or the office at the same time each day and vary your routes are just a few basic common-sense pointers.

Taxis are often quoted as a potential personal security risk for very good reason. This applies to women on their own as well as for travellers abroad. Always use a legitimate company, and try to avoid travelling from airports in the middle of the night and never get into a car with more than one person. Yeah, I know there are romantic comedies where bloke shares cab in NY with woman and they fall in love blah blah, but that’s make believe and I am afraid I am talking about real life. Sorry.

If you are in a taxi and the driver wants to take someone else or another person gets in uninvited, you might have to be very un-British by making a fuss. If the driver stops to let someone in, you should get out, pronto, I mean fuck it, you are in charge of your personal safety in these places and if the cabby doesn’t like it, well, that’s his tough shit.

WHAT IF……..?

If the worst happens and you are snatched, the most dangerous moment will be the “hit” or the “ambush” or if a rescue is mounted. It will come as no surprise to anyone, but this is when everyone especially the baddies are filled with stress and fear. People do daft things under stress.
At that moment your best and only option is to just go along with it and not try to run or fight. Best to be a live coward than a dead hero. Keep your savey and stay a live, try to be a hero and stay dead the choice is yours.

Avoid becoming a statistic by just being well aware of the risks – no matter how experienced a traveller one is, this is the best tool to possess against kidnapping. Please always bear in mind that if someone really wants to get you they probably will.

However often the kidnappers won’t necessarily want you personally, it is nothing personal, they are just going for the easiest target.

Even as you reading his article, someone is sitting in camp somewhere saying ‘right oh lads, we need to abduct someone”

Don’t let it be you.