May 18, 2022

A Colombian Nun’s Story Kidnapped in Mali Freed

On July 23rd, Colombian nun Gloria Argoti was kidnapped by armed men in Mali. She had been there since the end of 2017 as part of a mission for peace and reconciliation sponsored by the Vatican. On August 30th, she was released after reports that ransom payments were made to her kidnappers.

Gloria is one of many people who have been taken hostage in recent years including American tourists, journalists, and aid workers often from countries experiencing conflict or upheaval. It is estimated that there are 30 to 50 million hostages in the world today.

In this sense, hostage-taking can be understood as a form of the terrorist attack which has been employed by armed groups and criminal gangs for several years now. It was deemed so effective by terrorists long ago that ‘kidnapping people’ featured in a list of the ‘most effective terrorist tactics’ compiled by the Rand Corporation in 2010.

In this article, we will look at some recent examples of hostage-taking and explain how it works as a strategy for armed groups and criminal gangs. We’ll also take a closer look at those who carry out such operations and their motivations before offering a few thoughts on how to avoid or reduce the risk of being taken, hostage.

People get taken hostage for many reasons. Generally speaking, it is a way for criminal gangs and armed groups to make money because ransoms can be very high in some cases. In fact, according to Christopher Anzalone from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, kidnappers have been known to target wealthy families in certain countries. In the U.K., for example, this was a common tactic employed by gangs from Eastern Europe and North Africa who were able to extract ransoms that averaged £1 million per hostage.

In other cases, it might be about obtaining an important captive as leverage in a negotiation with the government or simply as a way of punishing those who don’t cooperate. It’s also relatively common for people to be taken hostage as part of propaganda push by groups that want to show that they’re still around and active as their influence wanes.

In the most extreme cases, hostages may end up being held indefinitely or be killed even after ransoms have been paid. The Taliban, for instance, executed an American woman and Canadian man they had held captive for five years after their respective governments rejected requests to exchange them for prisoners.

There are also various ways in which people get taken hostage. Kidnappers may attempt to abduct someone by force or trick someone into giving them access to their home or transport vehicle. There are even documented cases of people getting taken hostage when they’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Incidents like this happen with some frequency in places like Brazil and Ecuador where local gangs target drivers at traffic lights who are then forced to drive their car elsewhere before handing over any valuables.