The Ransom: inside the murky world of international kidnapping and hostage negotiation.
“I work for a client in a critical situation who is in physical danger. My only objective is to get him out alive as quickly as possible. That's all. Arresting, judging... not my problem.” Hostage recovery agent
Every year more than 30,000 people are kidnapped around the world. A small number are taken for political reasons, many more are held for financial gain.
“It was all about money, money, money, money…I mean it was purely business.” Former hostage
Rescuing these hostages is an expensive and often dangerous affair, conducted far from the public’s gaze.
With exclusive access to leading hostage recovery agents, The Ransom reveals the cat and mouse games employed to bring a hostage out alive.
“The discipline of hostage negotiation, it’s more of an art than a science. You have to think, as a negotiator, you're looking at: what is the hostage taker’s real motivation in this situation?” Hostage recovery team leader
These agents have deep experience in dealing with kidnap, extortion and emergency evacuations in some of the highest risk locations in the world.
“Finding people that have a lot of experience doing that sort of thing is not easy. It’s not as if you can do a Google search and come up with a list of qualified candidates.” Hostage recovery team leader
Working hand in glove with these teams are specialist kidnap and ransom insurers who have created a lucrative new line of business by offering policies covering everything from missing ransom money to severed fingers and death.
“It’s a profitable business, we work to be profitable, but one claim can really hurt you, and hurt your book that year, it can be really severe.” Insurance broker
The program captures one rescue operation unfolding before the cameras, as hostage negotiators strategise over how to handle the life or death emergency.
“If you pay what they ask too quickly, you expose yourself to another risk of abduction. If it has been easy to get your money, word gets about that you're an easy touch. And you become for them a potential new profitable victim.” Advisor
The Ransom, directed by Remi Laine and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 25th September at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 26th September at 1.00pm and Wednesday 27th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.