Trends in Armed Attacks

Kidnapping has proven to be a consistently popular tactic of terrorist
organizations. Kidnapping can take several forms, including hijacking, hostage
taking/barricading, and the abduction of individuals or small groups. Kidnapping
offers strategic and tactical advantages to terrorist organizations. First, the act
of kidnapping can create a continuing media story with increased coverage for
the terrorist group. Second, kidnapping can increase the leverage of terrorist
groups because the hostages, who are at the mercy of the terrorists, are
easy victims of additional violence or threats of violence. These factors,
combined with public sympathy and humanitarian concerns for the
hostages, often make it more difficult for affected governments to deal with
the terrorists and their demands. Finally, ransoming victims for money has
become an important source of revenue for terrorist groups of all ideological backgrounds.

Kidnapping scenarios can range from the spectacular, such as the 2002 seizure of 850 hostages at the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow by Chechen extremists; to the brazen, such as the 2001 abduction of 20 tourists from the Dos Palmas resort in Malaysia by Abu Sayyaf Group operatives; to more conventional incidents such as the 2011 abduction of USAID officer Warren Weinstein in Lahore, Pakistan, by al-Qa‘ida-affiliated extremists. People in areas of high risk for kidnapping can mitigate much of the threat by being aware of sudden changes in their environment and by varying their routines, especially transportation.

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