Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The business of kidnapping

It is one of the world's most highly specialised and secretive occupations, where every decision can determine whether someone lives or dies. This is the life of the kidnap response consultant, who is called in to help secure the release of hostages taken for ransom in the world's most dangerous corners. John Chase is an expert in kidnap and ransom cases. The 48-year-old comes from an intelligence background, has more than 17 years' experience and is the managing director of crisis response at AKE group, which specialises in preparing people to enter some of the most hostile places on the planet.

"A lot of my job is about taking the mystery out of what some people think of as the `black art' of kidnap," Chase says down the line from his London home. "In reality, it's simply a business. Some say it's the second-oldest business in the world." Chase, speaking candidly to The Australian about the growing kidnap and ransom business, is highly critical of the Australian government's response to ransom cases and says it needs to take a more "mature" approach.

He speaks from experience. Last year Chase helped secure the release of Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan and his Canadian colleague Amanda Lindhout, ending their 15-month imprisonment at the hands of Somali kidnappers. Because of the sensitivity of Chase's job, The Australian is unable to reveal his face. In December 2008 one of Chase's colleagues in the industry, Felix Batista, was taken by armed gunmen in Mexico and never seen again. Chase thinks he was captured and killed because his picture found its way into the Mexican media.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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