A review of global kidnapping trends in 2017 found that seizures at sea were one of the “most dynamic aspects of the crime,” with danger spots for ships continuing to shift.
“Islamist extremist groups found their kidnapping operations stifled by local pressures, the threat of piracy ebbed and flowed in major maritime threat zones, and the crime spread to new locations in countries with long-established kidnapping hotspots,” said the Control Risks report.
Among those changes, there were also constants: “Most perpetrators did not fundamentally alter their methodology, targeting patterns or negotiation techniques.”
“The maritime kidnapping threat proved one of the most dynamic aspects of the crime,” the report found. “As noted above, the [Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group] offshore kidnap threat – a significant development in the 2016 kidnapping environment – all but disappeared from the Sulu Sea while the group focused its operations and resources elsewhere. Around the Horn of Africa, Somali piracy made a brief comeback early in the year, reminding us that the underlying drivers of the crime still exist and will manifest periodically.”
The Gulf of Guinea “remained the global hotspot for offshore kidnapping, but there were fluctuations in the pattern of the threat in the region.”
“The highest monthly number of kidnaps and attempts was recorded in March (nine) and December (eight). Between November and March, we expect higher rates of the crime as the Harmattan (a very dry, dusty wind) reduces visibility at sea and facilitates piracy activity,” Control Risks reported. “However, we also recorded increased pirate activity outside of the traditional Harmattan period – October ranked joint second alongside December, with eight kidnaps – indicating that visibility is only one factor and that the kidnapping threat remains unpredictable.”