Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business (oxford University Press)

Anja Shortland (King's College , London)

Abstract: Millions of people work, live, and travel in high-risk countries; very few are kidnapped and, of those that are, almost all come home safely - how can this be? Abducting people is relatively easy but how much is your hostage worth; how do you negotiate a significant ransom; and, most of all, how do you conclude the deal without being caught? Kidnap is not the violent, chaotic, and ungovernable crime that it might appear. In fact it is sufficiently predictable and orderly to be insurable. This book shows how the powerful private governance system created by Lloyd’s special risk insurers takes control in transnational hostage situations to safely and cheaply retrieve kidnap victims. Based on extensive interviews with those who deal with kidnapping worldwide – insurers, security consultants, victims’ employers and families, and professional negotiators on both sides - plus a full transcript of a pirate ransom negotiation, this is a compelling account of a hidden world.