In this edition of the Global Kidnap Bulletin, we discuss the growing threat of kidnapping in the Sahel, reflect on changes in Afghanistan’s security environment since the Taliban’s rise to power almost a year ago, highlight the threats journalists continue to face while carrying out their work, investigate new tools employed by criminals in carrying out virtual kidnappings in the US, and explore the growing threat Iranian operatives pose to Israeli travellers in Turkey.
Kidnapping in the Sahel: No let-up in sight
With a deteriorating security environment across the Sahel, criminal and terrorist groups have increased kidnapping of both foreign and local victims as a source of funding in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The target profiles of victims are varied, and with little respite in broader security conditions in the region, kidnapping is likely to remain a persistent threat for all operators.
Broken promises: Afghanistan under the Taliban 2.0
Despite sweeping into power in August 2021 with a promise of a reformed and more modern perspective, the Taliban has reverted to old habits. The situation, particularly for women, but also for ethnic and religious minorities and those affiliated with the former government, has seen a dramatic deterioration. With Afghanistan’s economy teetering on the edge of collapse, and a Taliban firmly entrenched under a fundamentalist ideology, there is little prospect for improved conditions in the country.
In focus: Journalists under threat
The recent killing of a journalist and his guide in a remote area of western Brazil in early June highlighted the threat journalists face on the job. Worldwide, few countries allow journalists unencumbered conditions for their work, and journalists and other media workers often face hostile conditions, with very real threats of intimidation, harassment, kidnapping or even death.
Old scams, new tricks: How virtual kidnappers have upped their game
New technology that allows criminals to disguise their identities has made virtual kidnapping easier. Recent incidents of virtual kidnapping in the US, where criminals managed to convince their victims they were somebody else using spoofing technology, have demonstrated some of the ways new technologies can be harnessed for illicit gain.
Kidnapped on vacation: Iranians target Israelis in Turkey
Iranian security forces have carried out a number of targeted attacks against Israeli nationals and Iranian dissidents in Turkey. While Turkey does not condone the attacks, recent incidents suggest not enough is being done to quell the threat Iranian operatives pose to visitors to the country.