chapter  2
22 Pages

Quantitative and qualitative aspects of kidnapping and hostage negotiation ALeX P . SCHMID AND P . FLeMMING

Terrorist events are usually broken down in single-phase incidents (e.g. shootings, assaults, and bombings) and dual-phase incidents (hi-jackings – aerial, terrestrial or maritime – kidnappings and barricade hostage attacks). Here we discuss dual-phase incidents, including hi-jackings which are, in a way, a combination of kidnapping and hostage situations. Table 2.1 gives an idea about the relative frequency of dual-phase incidents. It should be noted that in this and subsequent tables, only incidents of international terrorism are covered, not the much more frequent domestic incidents which involve no foreign perpetrators or victims. Two-thirds of these incidents are in the form of kidnapping, with the remainder involving barricade and hostage seizure, aerial hi-jacking and hijacking of other non-aerial means of transportation. We will, on the one hand, look at kidnapping and hostage situations from a quantitative point of view – using data from ITERATE (Mickolus 2006) for the period 1968 (in some cases 1978) until 2005. These data (Figure 2.1) allow us to see, for instance, the considerable fluctuations in the level of hostage-taking in the four decades. They show that both 1999 (eighty-eight) and 2004 (eighty-six) had relatively high numbers of these events. On the other hand, we will, in this chapter, also look at some “best practices” and “lessons learned” in the field of tactical negotiations. Most of the lessons are not new; rather, it is a summary of some conventional wisdom, mainly obtained from crisis management situations. That wisdom might be in need of updating in the face of the “new terrorism”1 in some aspects but it offers, in our view, a

fairly solid basis for discussion and further exploration. This qualitative part is mainly based on secondary literature, but also includes references to some grey literature from the Netherlands and from international organizations. We will not address strategic truce/peace negotiations for a political solution to conflicts involving the use of terrorism that restricts our focus to tactical crisis management negotiations linked to kidnappings and acts of hostage-taking. It is useful, at this point, to define our understanding of the two key terms – Terrorism and Negotiation. In our understanding, terrorism is:

. . . an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat-and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.