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Kidnapping Hijacking Taking hostages Captivity (Psychological aspects)


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Title: Kidnapping Hijacking Taking hostages Captivity (Psychological aspects)

KidnappingHijackingTaking hostagesCaptivity(Ps
ychological aspects)
  • Štepán Vymetal
  • Vyškov, Czech Republic 06/25/2009

Captivity of civilians as hostages is an
international crime!
  • Additional relevant crimes are
  • Terrorist attack
  • Hijackning
  • Kidnapping
  • Stealing children
  • Abduction
  • Taking hostages
  • Illegal restraint
  • Blackmail/Extortion

Who can become hostage?
  • Individual
  • Group of people
  • Organisation/community
  • Society (terrorism)
  • Offenders often demonstrate that government is
    unable to help own citizens!

Types of Cases
  • Stealing of children (extortion of rich
    parents, conflict in family)
  • Kidnap or taking adult hostages (political or
    economical reason)
  • Taking hostages during unsuccessful criminal act
    (bank/shop robbery, jail-break)
  • Escalation of domestic violence
  • Sectarian violence
  • Hijacking (plane, ship, bus, train, car)
  • Suicidal terrorism

Air France hijacking
  • AF flight (220 passangers, 12 crew) was hijacked
    on 24 December 1994 by the Armed Islamic Group
    (GIA) at Algiers, where they killed 3 passengers.
  • The aircraft riched Maarseilles on Dec. 26.
  • French special forces stormed and killed all 4
    hijackers in 20-min. gun battle.
  • 166 passengers and crew survived.
  • One of the most successful anti-terorist
    operations in history.

  • Psychopatic personality (often cold, felonious
    motivation, absence of empathy)
  • Mental ill (psychosis)
  • Drug users
  • Fanatics
  • Common criminals
  • Normal people in crisis
  • combinations

  • Economical (ransom)
  • Political or ideological (army pullout, release
    of prisoners, independency)
  • Escape way
  • Revenge (self-destroing)
  • Solving of crisis interpersonal situation
    (stealing of children, rejected partner,
  • Psychopatological (irrational/dark/incomprehensibl
  • Mimicking behavior
  • combinations

Feelings of hostage stages
  • Impact (mental denial, feeling of unreality,
    then mental and physical tense and anxiety)
  • Definition of situation and partial calm
    (interpretation of situation, adjusting to rules
    of game, belief that everything will be solved
  • Disillusion (waiting, lack of information)
  • Resignation (mental exhaustion, resignation to
    fate, apathy)
  • Receiving of rescue (new impact/extrem stress,
    confused reactions, ambivalence, high anxiety,
    flooding of emotions)
  • Acute Stress Reaction (variation in emotions,
    euphory, depression, anxiety, irritation, sleep
    disturbances, flashbacks)
  • Processing of traumatic experience (long term,
    specific psychological support is often needed)

Captivity in Columbia
  • Ingrid Betancourt a Colombian-French politician
    was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces
    of Colombia (FARC) on Feb. 2002.
  • She was rescued by Colombian security forces six
    and a half years later on July 2008.
  • Rescued along with 14 other hostages (incl. 3
    Americans and 11 Colombian policemen and
  • Experience of captivity in FARC camps
  • Isolation, separation in jungle
  • No one was harmed during the rescue!

  • Strong emotional and/or physical reactions can
    appear some time after traumatic event
  • People have different level of specific
    resiliency and recovery (it depends on social
    support, physical health, coping strategies,
    trauma exposition)
  • Acute Stress Reaction is vital reaction of human
    being. No matter how strange or insane it looks,
    it is a normal reaction to abnormal situation!

Many specific factors
  • Each kidnapping and captivity is specific.
  • Many factors play a role in coping
  • Number and kind of hostages
  • Organisation and kind of offenders
  • Motivation of crime, aims
  • Time
  • Life conditions
  • Character of crisis negotiation and of the storm
  • etc

Experience of hostages
  • Feeling of fear and total dependence on offender
  • Loss of control over one's own life
  • Contact with persisting danger
  • Extreme stress situation
  • Deprivation of basic needs
  • Psychological and physical pressure, threats
  • Forced to suffer or to do things in contravention
    of one's own personality, will and morality
  • Facing up to violence, harassment, excruciation,
    degradation, dehumanisation

Munich massacre
  • The Munich massacre occurred during the Summer
    Olypics in West Germany, 1972.
  • Members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken
    hostage and eventually murdered by Black
    September, a militant group with ties to Fatah

  • By the end of the ordeal, the terrorist group had
    killed 11 Israeli athlets and coaches and 1
    German police officer.
  • Five of the eight members of Black September were
    killed during an abortive rescue attempt.
  • The three surviving terrorists were captured, and
    were later released by West Germany following the
    hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa

Stockholm syndrom
  • Stockholm syndrome is a specific emotional
    response of hostages.
  • The hostage shows positive feelings and signs of
    loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the
    danger or risk in which they have been placed.
  • It is possible reaction, not necessary!
  • It can be based on unconcious process or
    rational behavior.
  • It is life protective stay, supported by

Stockholm bank roberry
  • The syndrome was named after the robbery of
    Kreditbanken in Stockholm in 1973.
  • 4 hostages 2 offenders, 6 days in strong-room.
  • Victims became emotionally attached to their
  • Defended them after were freed.

  • In one year (1980) 42 embassies and diplomatic
    missions were seized worldwide by terrorists and
  • 22 ambassadors were taken hostage
  • 5 embassies were destroyed
  • 53 people were killed in embassy shoot-outs
  • (not include US embassy in Teheran)

Iran hostage crisis
  • Was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the USA
  • Group of Islamist students and militants took
    over the American embassy in Teheran
  • Motivation support of the Iranian Revolution
  • 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days
    (Nov.1979 - Jan.1981)
  • Main stressors homesickness, boredom,
  • Forcing grown men to live together in a small
    space day and night, month after month, is a form
    of slow torture

It was seen as a violance of a centuries-old
principle of international law granting diplomats
immunity from arrest and diplomatic sovereignty
in their embassies
Iranian Embassy Siege
  • On April 30th, 1980 the group of 6 armed Arab
    separatists stormed the Iranian Embassy in London
    (political motivation).
  • 26 hostahes were taken (including one police
    constable and two visiting journalists).
  • 5 hostages were released
  • On day 6 the terrorists killed 1 hostage (press
    attaché) and threw his body outside.
  • News teams were camped outside the embassy.
  • The siege was ended by British special forces. 19
    hostages saved.

Lima Syndrom
  • Lima syndrome is a situation in which abductors
    develop a sympathy for their hostages. It is the
    inverse of the Stockholm syndrom.
  • Syndrome was named after an abduction at the
    Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996.
  • Within a few days, the abductors had set free
    most of the hostages, including the most valuable
    ones, due to sympathy.

Japanese embassy hostage crisis
  • 14 members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary
    Movement took hostage more than 600 of high-level
    diplomats, government and military officials and
    business executive who were attending a party at
    the official residence of Japans ambassador.
  • The motivation was political.
  • Most of the hostages were soon released.
  • 72 were freed after 126 days by Special forces.

Storm the residence
  • 1 hostage, 2 commandos
  • and all 14 abductors died.
  • All abductors were killed

Worst-case Beslan
Beslan massacre - Day 1
  • September 1st, 2004, School no. 1, Beslan, North
    Ossetia, RF
  • 32 armed terrorists (muslim pro-Chechen rebels)
    took more then 1200 people (about 800 were
  • Hostages were concentrated in gym with explosive
  • Male hostiges and women-terorists were executed

Day 2
  • 15 small babies with 11 nursing women were
  • About 5000 relatives waited close to school
  • Lack in negotiation
  • No food and wather for hostages, hot temperature
    in gym some hostiges drank own urine, some
    children are unconscious
  • Hostage-takers stressed, sleep deprivated, under
    drugs, unpredictable

Day 3
  • 2 explosions in the gym big fire shooting
  • A chaotic battle broke out (many local
    civilians , local police, special forces, army
  • Terrorists used children as a shields
  • Using of heavy weapons from special forces
  • Chaotic rescue operation
  • A few of ambulances

Fatalities and injures
  • Official fatalities Hostages 334, Other people
    10, Special forces 10 Hostage-takers 31 (Total
  • Official injuries Security forces 55, Others
    728 (Total 783)
  • Long term psychological impact to community!

Prevention of kidneppingRisk reduction
Worldwide kidnappings
  • Kidnapping is a real and dangerous threat in many
  • The only guaranteed way to avoid kidnapping
  • is not to go to risky areas.
  • Since this is impractical for many travelers, the
    next best thing is to be aware of the risks!

Statistics 2006
  • Estimated number of kidnaps per capita of
  • Absolute number of kidnappings
  1. Mexico
  2. Iraq
  3. India
  4. South Africa
  5. Brazil
  6. Pakistan
  7. Ecuador
  8. Venezuela
  9. Colombia
  10. Bangladesh
  11. Nigeria
  12. Haiti
  13. Afganistan
  1. Iraq
  2. Mexico
  3. The Chechen Republic
  4. Ecuador
  5. Brazil
  6. Haiti
  7. South Africa
  8. TrinidadTobago
  9. Colombia
  10. India

First questions of a hostage
  1. Who are my kidnappers?
  2. What do they want?
  3. What is my value?

Behavior of hostages must be according to the
type of kidnapper/situation
Understand situation!
  1. Who are my kidnappers? Types of kidnappers
  • amateurs
  • professionals
  • mentally ill or pathological persons
  • political or religious fanatics

2. What do they want?
  • 1) Amateurs and professionals gt blackmail
  • b) Mentally ill or pathological persons often
    blackmail too, but it is hard to understand them
  • c) Political or religious fanatics need to
    impress gt highest risk!

3.What is my value?
  • Amateurs and professionals need hostages alive
    to blackmail
  • Mentally ill or pathological persons mostly need
    hostages alive too
  • Political or religious fanatics need to impress
    gt mostly kill hostages

General behavior of a hostage
  • Watch the mood of the kidnappers
  • Dont provoke
  • Cooperate
  • Take a time
  • Dont panic Tricks how to not panic watch
    carefully any detail in the room, play chess in
    your mind, remember all your teachers from the
    high school etc.
  • In case of political or religious fanatics try to

Interrogation of a hostage
Know your ID number, have a copy in your email
  • Some tricks
  • Watch carefully some details in the room
  • Keep the right position of your body
  • Control your gestures
  • Drink anytime you can
  • Reformulate the talks and questions

How to survive kidnapping?
  • Kidnapping is a terrifying experience, but you
    have personal resources for coping with the
  • Remember, you are only of value to them alive,
    and they want to keep you that way.
  • The common hostage responses fear, denial, and
    withdrawal are all experienced in varying

Surviving kidnapping 1
  • The terrorists are nervous and unsure, easily
    irritated, often irrational. It is a
    psychologically traumatic moment for the hostage.
  • Violence may be used even if the hostage remains
    passive, but resistance could result in death.
    You may be blindfolded, drugged, handled roughly,
    or even stuffed in the trunk of a car.
  • Try to regain your composure as soon as possible
    and to organize your thoughts. (Being able to
    behave rationally increases your chances for

Surviving kidnapping 2
  • The more time that passes, the better your
    chances of being released alive.
  • If drugs are administered, do not resist. (Their
    purpose will be to sedate you and make you more
    manageable these same drugs may actually help
    you to get control of your emotions, which should
    be your immediate goal. If conscious, follow your
    captors instructions).
  • If taken hostage, your best defense is passive

Surviving Hijackings 1 Tips of U.S. Bureau of
Diplomatic Security
  • Blend in with the other airline passengers.
  • Avoid eye contact with your captors.
  • Remember there may be other hijackers covertly
    mixed among the regular passengers.
  • Although captors may appear calm, they cannot be
    trusted to behave reasonably or rationally at all
  • Stay alert, but do not challenge them physically
    or verbally.

Surviving Hijackings 2
  • Comply with their instructions.
  • If interrogated, keep answers short and limited
    to nonpolitical topics.
  • Carry a family photo at some point you may be
    able to appeal to captors' family feelings.
  • Minimize the importance of your job!
  • Give innocuous reasons for traveling.
  • Never admit to any accusations.

Surviving Captivity
  • Try to establish some kind of rapport with your
    captors. Family is a universal subject.
  • Avoid political dialogues, but listen
    attentively to their point of view.
  • If you know their language, listen and observe
    and if addressed, use it.
  • Maintain your dignity and self-respect at all

  • Plan on a lengthy stay, and determine to keep
    track of the passage of time. (Captors may
    attempt to confuse your sense of time by taking
    your watch, keeping you in a windowless cell, or
    serving meals at odd hours. However, you can
    approximate time by noting, for example, changes
    in temperatures between night and day the
    frequency and intensity of outside
    noisestraffic, whistles, birds and by observing
    the alertness of guards. )
  • Manage your time by setting up schedules for
    simple tasks, exercises, daydreaming,

  • Build relations with fellow captives and with the
  • If hostages are held apart, devise ways to
    communicate with one another. (Where hostages
    are moved back and forth, to bathrooms for
    example, messages can be written and left.
    However, do not jeopardize your safety or the
    safety or treatment of others if attempting to
    communicate with fellow captives seems too
  • Maintain your physical and mental health it is
    critical to exercise body and mind. (Eat food
    provided without complaint keep up your
    strength. Request medical treatment or special
    medicines if required).

  • Establish exercise and relaxation programs.
    (Exercise produces a healthy tiredness and gives
    you a sense of accomplishment. If space is
    confined, do isometrics. Relaxation reduces
    stress. Techniques include meditation, prayer,
    daydreaming. Keep your mind active read anything
    available. Write, even if you are not allowed to
    retain your writings. If materials are not
    available, mentally compose poetry or fiction,
    try to recall Scripture, design a house, even
    play chess or tennis.
  • Take note of the characteristics of your captors
    and surroundings. (Their habits, speech,
    contacts exterior noises /typical of city or
    country/ and other distinctive sounds. This
    information could prove very valuable later).

  • If selected for early release, consider it an
    opportunity to help remaining hostages.(Details
    you have observed on the terrorists and the
    general situation can assist authorities with a
  • You can expect to be accused of working for the
    governments intelligence service, to be
    interrogated extensively, and to lose weight. You
    may be put in isolation your captives may try to
    disorient you. It is important that you mentally
    maintain control.

Avoidance of Capture or Escape
  • Efforts to avoid capture or to attempt escape
    have in most cases been futile. The decision,
    however, is a personal one, although it could
    affect fellow hostages by placing them in
    jeopardy. Several other considerations should be
  • To have any chance of success, you should be in
    excellent physical condition and mentally
    prepared to react before the terrorists have
    consolidated their position. This, also, is the
    riskiest psychological time.
  • You would need to have a plan in mind, and
    possibly have been trained in special driving
    tactics or other survival skills.

  • Consider the consequences of your escape before
    attempting it (If you are held in a country in
    which you would stand out because of race or
    other physical characteristics, if you know
    nothing of the language or your location, or if
    you are held in a country where anti-American or
    anti-Western attitudes prevail)
  • If you conclude that an escape attempt is
    worthwhile, take terrorists by surprise and you
    may make it. (If their organization has a poor
    track record of hostage safety, it may be worth
    the risk).

Surviving Rescue operation
  • The termination of any terrorist incident is
    extremely tense.
  • During an assault
  • Remain calm and out of the way. (Try to be far
    from windows and doors).
  • Make no sudden moves (-or take any action by
    which you could be mistaken for a terrorist and
    risk being injured or killed. Even in a voluntary
    release or surrender by the terrorists, tensions
    are charged and tempers volatile).
  • Follow instructions precisely. Very precise
    instructions will be given to the hostages,
    either by the captors or the police. You may be
    asked to exit with hands in the air, and you may
    be searched by the rescue team. You may
    experience rough treatment until you are
    identified and the situation has stabilized.

Keep in mind three facts about terrorism
  1. The overwhelming majority of victims have been
    abducted from their vehicles on the way to or
    from work.
  2. A large number of people taken hostage ignored
    the most basic security precautions.
  3. Terrorist tactics are not static. As precautions
    prove effective, they change their methods. There
    is a brief window of vulnerability while we
    learn to counter their new styles.

  • Be prepared! Have actual risk information, use
    video monitoring , alarms, lighting outside,
    detect following
  • Routine kills! Do not settle into a routine. Vary
    times and routes to and from work or social
  • Assimilate to local population. Use cultural
    mimic colouring (clothing, beard, hair style,
    sunburn, behaviour, habits).
  • Do not inform about your profession and family
    unknown people. Do not introduce by your name
    using phone.
  • Be prepared, be unpredictible, be

  • Avoid going out alone. Remember, there is safety
    in numbers. When traveling long distances by
    automobile, go in a convoy.
  • Avoid back country roads and dangerous areas of
    the city.
  • A privately owned car generally offers the best
    security. Avoid luxury or ostentatious cars. Keep
    your automobile in good repair and the gas tank
    at least half full.
  • Driving in the center lane of a multiple lane
    highway makes it difficult for the car to be
    forced off the road.

About lector
  • Crisis, Disaster and trauma psychologist
  • Interior Ministry, head of psychology section
  • Foreign Ministry, lector
  • Czech Airlines, coordinator of psychological
    crisis team
  • Czech Police, coordinator of posttraumatic
    intervention team
  • Contact 00420-607958920,
  • Tragedies and Journalists web brochre
  • http//

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