ASIA

Afghanistan

10 November The National Directorate of Security (NDS, the country’s spy agency) said in a statement that they had freed five men, two women and a teenager in Ghazni province. The NDS added that they were among 31 Hazaras kidnapped in February when the group was forced off a bus. Nineteen were freed in May. The NDS said that “terrorists” were responsible for the kidnappings.

30 November According to US officials and others familiar with the case, an unnamed American has been held captive by the Haqqani, a group of militants aligned with the Taliban that operates along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, for more than a year. This has not been reported before. The disclosure of another American hostage raises questions about how many Americans are being held hostage abroad and what the US government is doing to recover them. The exact details of the man’s kidnapping remain unclear. The militants said to be holding him have not made any public demands. A former government official in Afghanistan said the man is alive and in good health. The only other American known to be held in the region is Caitlin Coleman who was kidnapped along with her husband, Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, while travelling in Afghanistan in 2012. She has given birth to a child while in captivity. In the past, Coleman and Boyle appeared in a video asking their governments to work for their release. US and foreign sources believe that the three are alive and well.

India

7 November Police said that militants from the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) kidnapped a policeman and a trader the previous day in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region. The two men were travelling with other passengers in a vehicle along the Mendipathar-Songsak road when armed members of the GNLA stopped the vehicle near Dobima, singled out the two men leaving other passengers and the driver unharmed. Inspector General of Police (western region) FD Sangma said ransom was the motive behind the kidnapping.

7 November Kuldeep Jain (26), who runs an electrical parts shop, was kidnapped at around 10:30am in Bengaluru while riding to work on a motorcycle. Two men crashed their motorcycle into his and then picked a fight. Four “bystanders” rushed to help pretending to try to resolve the matter. The group suggested to Jain that they go to the police station to resolve the matter and they all got into a car. Once in the car, he was threatened with a gun and driven to a farmhouse near Sathanur. The victim’s brother, Sandeep, became concerned when he failed to appear at the shop and could not be contacted at home. Sandeep filed a missing person notice with the police. That evening, the victim was forced to contact Sandeep by telephone to pass on the kidnappers’ ransom demand of Rs.50 lakh (USD80,000). The kidnappers threatened to kill the victim if the money was not paid. Other members of the kidnapping gang also called Sandeep with ransom demands up to Rs.1 crore (USD160,000). The police received an unusual breakthrough when the Forest Department contacted them to report suspicious movement near a farmhouse from where, they feared, thieves were trying to steal the large number of batteries. The police raided the farmhouse and freed the victim who was drugged and had his hands and legs tied. Only one suspect, the guard on the kidnappers’ safe house, was arrested. The police said there were 10 men in the kidnapping gang. Sandeep is still receiving ransom demands in spite of his brother being free.

8 November The body of Akash Verma, a class XI student and son of Sanjay Sharma, a jeweller, was found in a sack in Kotwali area. He had been kidnapped two days earlier and the kidnappers called his father with a ransom demand of Rs.40 lakh (USD64,200). Two friends of the victim were being interviewed by the police.

9 November Alert citizens prevented the 10 year old son of an affluent civil contractor from being kidnapped in Ambernath, Mumbai. Three people, including a 35 year old woman who had worked for the family as a domestic help for five years, were arrested by the police. The woman had persuaded the boy to go outside his residence with her where her two accomplices were waiting. Neighbours noticed the boy was uncomfortable and intervened at which point the three would be kidnappers fled although they were later caught. Police said the kidnappers were planning to demand Rs.5 crore (USD802,600) for the boy’s release.

19 November A delayed report stated that five workers with Simplex Infrastructures Limited, who had been kidnapped for ransom on 4 November, had been released by their kidnappers on 13 November. The workers were kidnapped by militants from the United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) near Makru on the Imphal-Jiribam road. The victims were released somewhere between Jiribam and Tamenglong district in the afternoon of 13 November. The conditions of the release could not be confirmed.

24 November Four men suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of Rameshchand Agarwal (61), owner of the Balaji Grand Bazaar at Basheerbagh, were arrested by Narsinghi police. On 14 November, the victim and his son were travelling by car to their house in Narsinghi when the gang stopped the car and forced the victim into their car. The kidnappers released the victim at Basheerbagh but contacted his son and demanded Rs.2 crore (USD100,500) in ransom. The police arrested the gang when they came to collect the ransom money.

27 November Khar police arrested five members of a kidnapping gang that is alleged to have been involved in the kidnapping for ransom of 51 year old Manager of a Kalamboli construction site. The victim is a distant relative and employee of a Santacruz based builder. He was kidnapped between 5:00pm and 6:00pm as he was leaving the building site. The owner of the construction company informed the police that he had been contacted by a man identifying himself as an underworld gangster and demanding a ransom of Rs.75 lakh (USD120,400). This was the third time the gang had kidnapped the same man in the last 18 months. In the two previous occasions they extorted Rs.15 lakh (USD24,100) and Rs.25 lakh (USD40,130). The police arrested the gang members when they came to collect the ransom money from near a hotel in Khar.

30 November Shankar Barman (40), a pharmacist from Mahendragan town on the India-Bangladesh border, was released by his Bangladeshi kidnappers after being kidnapped over ten days earlier. It was reported that he was kidnapped while returning home after closing his shop at around 10:00pm. The kidnappers are said to have taken him across the border and kept him captive at a border village. They initially demanded a ransom of Rs.10-12 lakh (USD16,000 – USD19,250) but reduced it after the family said they could not pay such a high amount. The victim was released in the Purakhasia border region after the ransom was paid.

30 November Karan Mahajan (13), the son of a share broker, was rescued in a police raid on the servants’ quarters of the Royal Kids Play School in Raj Nagar, Ghaziabad, outside Delhi, where one of the accused’s mother lives and works. Three men were arrested including one who had been wounded during a shoot out with the police. The victim had been kidnapped on 29 November from a playground. One of those arrested had befriended the boy and played cricket with him several times. The victim’s mother received a call at around 10:30 on 30 November from her son’s mobile when the kidnappers demanded a ransom of Rs.2 crore (USD321,000). The police traced the whereabouts of the victim by monitoring the calls and making local enquiries.

Pakistan

10 November An internal police enquiry confirmed that an officer along with other policemen and a political party worker had kidnapped three men on the night of 14/15 October from their homes in Landhi locality, Karachi. The victims were taken to Sardar police station and held locked in a bathroom for more than two days and beaten mercilessly. Their relatives were made to listen to the noise of the men being mistreated so they would raise the ransom money quickly. The relatives were told to pay the ransoms or the men would be booked under false pretences. Each victim paid between Rs.0.3 million (USD3,000) and Rs.0.4 million (USD4,000) for his release.

13 November According to official statistics, the police in Bahawalpur registered 37 kidnap for ransom cases in October and dismissed five “fake” cases. They arrested 20 men allegedly involved in the cases.

FAR EAST

China

18 November The police in Yibin City, Sichuan Province, said they had arrested four alleged kidnappers involved in the kidnapping of Zhang Yinggi (53), executive of the Yibin Yili Group and reportedly one of the richest men in Yibin. The four alleged kidnappers demanded a ransom from the victim and forced him to strangle an unidentified massage parlour worker to make sure he did not report the kidnapping to police. Zhang told police that four men attacked him with pepper spray while he was in an elevator in a residential building on 11 November. They tied his hands and feet, gagged and blindfolded him before taking him to a room in Zhaochang Town. They threatened him with a homemade gun and demanded a ransom of 100 million yuan (USD15.6 million) for his release. Before allowing him to leave to collect the ransom, the kidnappers made him strangle the woman and videotaped the crime. On his release, instead of going to collect the ransom money, he went to the police to report the incident. The police were able to identify the criminals through his description.

Malaysia

7 November A police inspector and three lance corporals of the Selangor police were arrested and charged with the kidnapping of multi-millionaire nightclub owner Datuk K Gopala Guru in February 2013. The victim is still missing. The four policemen pleaded not guilty. The victim was kidnapped from a car park in Jalan Maharajalela and has not been seen since. His luxury car was found burnt out in Hulu Yam the day after the kidnapping.

9 November Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said that the 7:00pm to 5:00am curfew in the waters of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) had been extended to 25 November. This is the 31st renewal of the curfew which covers the districts of Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Kinababatangan, Sandakan and Beluran. He added that the decision to extend the curfew was made after taking into account the security situation and the well-being of the people in the area, comprising international researchers, tourists and local residents.

9 November It was reported that the Manager of the Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, Thien Nyuk Fun (50), was released the previous by her Abu Sayyaf kidnappers after being kidnapped on 15 May 2015 from her restaurant. She was reportedly brought back to her Sabah east coast residence after an eight hour speedboat journey from Jolo in the Philippines. Media reports claimed that the victim was freed after a payment of a ransom of 30 million pesos (USD670,400) but Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said no ransom was paid and she was released following negotiations between the Malaysian authorities and her kidnappers. Malaysian and Filipino negotiators are continuing to try to work out a deal for the release of Bernard Ted Fen (39) who was kidnapped along with Thien Nyuk Fun.

16 November In Alor Star, Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism chief, Senior Assistant Commissioner Ayub Khan, said that Islamic State (IS) have a list of targets for kidnapping including Cabinet members, police officers and army personnel who were supportive of senior Cabinet members. He added that they had found out about the IS master plan from questioning the IS member, Murad Halimuddin, who is in jail. Murad had said that IS want to kidnap the leaders they regard as “tagut” (those who have crossed religious boundaries). Hishammudin Hussein, Defence Minister, said he was among those on the list.

17 November The Indanan-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) led by sub-commanders Alden Bagade and Indang Susukan beheaded Bernard Ted Fen in Bud Taran Indanan, after negotiations for his release failed. The Joint Task Group Sulu commander, Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, said the militants had demanded an additional ransom amount of P40 million (USD893,850) and set a deadline for the payment of 17 November. He added that a few hours before the beheading, the military launched air strikes on ASG territory. A theory put forward for the reason for the beheading was that Fen, who had gout and had lost his glasses, was killed because he slowed down his captors as they were being chased by the military. The victim was kidnapped from the Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Sandakan, along with the owner, Thien Nyuk Fun, on 14 May 2015. Thien was released on 8 November after her family allegedly agreed to pay a ransom of 30 million pesos (USD670,400). The initial agreement to release the two victims was 30 million pesos but the kidnappers increased it to 80 million (USD1.79 million) at the last moment. On 19 November, a Philippines National Police (PNP) spokesman confirmed that on the morning of 17 November, police recovered an abandoned package along Marina Street, Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu, marked “Bernard Ghen Ted Fan” that contained a severed human head. They denied a headless body had been recovered the following day. An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also reiterated the government’s “no ransom” policy.

18 November Selangor police arrested nine suspects who were celebrating in a cafe in Jalan Doraisamy, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, after receiving a RM2 million (USD548,000) ransom payment. The victim had been the 63 year old sister of a millionaire named “Tan Sri”, a real estate businessman. The victim was receiving treatment at a traditional treatment centre in Kelana Jaya on 11 November when, at about 6:00pm, three of the suspects armed with knives barged into the treatment room, forcibly took the victim out, forced her into a waiting car and drove away. They detained her in a house in Cheras and released her immediately after the family paid the ransom at around 10:00pm on 16 November. In total, the police have arrested 14 suspects, including the suspected mastermind and four women, all in the Kuala Lumpur area and recovered RM722,670 (USD198,000) of the ransom money. The Selangor police chief later said that the police were studying several kidnapping cases to ascertain if the mastermind was linked to any of them.

20 November Khalid Abu Bakar, Inspector-General of Police, was travelling to Manila, the Philippines, to coordinate with his Filipino counterpart a joint task force to track down the Abu Sayyaf militants responsible for the murder of Malaysian engineer Bernard Ted Fen. The meeting will also look into measures to eliminate the terror threat from Abu Sayyaf.

24 November A 12 day old baby boy was kidnapped in Kota Laksamana, Malacca. The boy’s mother received a telephone call from a man at around 6:50pm demanding RM300,000 (USD82,200). After negotiations, the kidnappers reduced the demand to RM200,000 (USD54,800). At about 10:30pm on 25 November, the victim’s family went to a tuition centre in Lulau Gadong to deliver the ransom money. The police mounted an operation and raided the premises arresting three women and rescuing the baby. A man, said to be the baby’s uncle, was later arrested. Two of the suspects are believed to be relatives of the infant and that financial issues caused the kidnapping.

29 November Mr Andrin Raj, South-east Asia regional director of the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals Centre for Security Studies, said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had planted operatives in strategic areas in Sabah ready to carry out kidnap for ransom assignments when given the “go-ahead”. He added that ASG was getting a lot of help from local sympathisers in identifying potential targets among tourists and a Filipino group based in Sabah, known as the Knights of the Right Keeper whose members hold dual nationality or permits, were also supporting ASG. Other operatives with links to ASG are said to work within Kota Kinabalu International Airport and other airports in the state.

Philippines

3 November The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group released a 90 second video showing black clad gunmen standing over two Canadians, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Hall’s Filipina girlfriend, Marites Flores, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad. As a man held a machete above his neck, John Ridsdel said: “We are being ransomed for 1 billion pesos (USD21 million). I appeal to the Canadian Prime Minister and the people of Canada, please pay the ransom as soon as possible, or our lives are in great danger”. This was the second video released by the armed Islamists since they kidnapped the four from a marina on Salam Island on 21 September. As in the first one, the video featured the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the background. Robert Hall also states: “I’m a Canadian citizen, I’m being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf for one billion pesos (USD21 million). These people are serious and very treacherous. Take them seriously. Help us, get us out of here”. A man standing behind the group said if the demands were not met “they will be killed by Abu Sayyaf”. The militants then chant.

4 November In an advisory, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told British citizens not to travel to southern and western Mindanao, including the Sulu archipelago, because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. It advised against all, but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao because of the high threat from terrorism and kidnapping. The FCO said: “There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Information as of late October indicates that kidnap for ransom groups may be planning operations in North Mindanao including the islands off the coast”. Australia also warned its nationals to take extra precautions while in the Philippines.

5 November In an “ambush” interview with reporters on the sidelines of the 3rd Davao Investment Conference, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duerte, when referring to the 21 September kidnapping of three foreigners at Samal, said: “The victims are not sacrificial lambs. They (Abu Sayyaf) should just release the victims for we do not intend to pay any ransom”. He added there is no deal when it comes to ransom and there is no plan to engage in whatever negotiation with Abu Sayyaf.

5 November A very reliable source from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu told the Manila Bulletin that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants have had to increase their ransom demands because of the “tongpats” (grease money) for some persons he did not identify. The source added that ASG also has to share their loot with other ASG factions to maintain their alliance and with armed civilians who are assisting in guarding the hostages, buying provisions from town, cooking their food, acting as lookouts or informants, among other assignments. He concluded by saying: “Many of our farmers on the island who have arms flock to the Abu Sayyaf every time there are hostages, knowing they get a share from any ransom received”. He said the practice of sharing ransoms began during ASG’s kidnapping on 23 April 2000 of 21 people including Malaysians, tourists from Europe, South Africa and the Middle East and a Filipina hotel worker, from a resort on Sipadan Island off Sabah, Malaysia. He recalled the then Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, reportedly paid USD25 million for the release of the European hostages. The source provided additional information that a faction of ASG led by Al Habsie Misaya in Jolo, Sulu, had demanded P1.2 billion (USD24 million) earlier this year for two Malaysians, Thien Nyuk Fun (50), and Bernard Then Ted Fen (38), who were kidnapped from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant, Sandakan, Sabah, on 14 May 2015.

10 November A military source said that the security forces had extricated an Australian couple and their son from their house in Agusan del Sur following intelligence reports that the Abu Sayyaf group from Sulu were planning to kidnap them. The Australian man was said to be working in Agusan del Sur.

28 November A spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said that two members of a notorious local kidnapping gang, Menu Maganaka alias “Derby” and Rex Bacana alias “Toto”, had been arrested in a joint military and police operation in Kabacan, North Cotabato, on 27 November. The two men are members of the Pentagon group, a criminal syndicate based in Central Mindanao. It was later reported that Saddam Jailani, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group responsible for the beheading of Sarawakan, Bernard Ted Fen, had also been arrested.

30 November The military confirmed that an infantry battalion, consisting of 500 officers and men, had been airlifted from the Bicol Region in Luzon to Mindanao to boost the government’s campaign against the Abu Sayyaf extremists. The battalion’s commanding officer said his battalion was assigned for one year to the Zamboanga peninsula as well as the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Singapore

2 November Singapore police publicised a telephone kidnap scam case that took place on 21 October in order to alert members of the public to the methods of the scammers and how to handle the incident. In this case, the scammer rang the mother of the victim claiming to have kidnapped her son (36) and demanding she transfer S$15,000 (USD10,800) through an ATM to the scammer’s bank account. When she said the maximum permitted on her card was S$2,000 (1,440), the scammer accepted this. The scammer told her to proceed to an ATM but not to cut off the call or “Your son’s head will roll”. A colleague alerted the police that something was wrong and they were able to assist her at the ATM to prevent her transferring the money. A retired police officer said that the first thing a person who receives a call should do is stay on the telephone and try to signal to someone nearby for help. Parents with young children should also agree a codeword to establish whether or not the voice on the other end of the telephone is really one of their children.

Taiwan

2 November Following the rescue of kidnapped Hong Kong business tycoon, Wong-Yuk Kwan (67), after a partial ransom had been paid in bitcoin (BTC), Tseng Ming-Chung, Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), has declared bitcoin to be illegal in Taiwan. BTC had been adopted by a largely tech-savvy population in the country for use in popular convenience store chains. He added he would collaborate with Taiwan’s central bank and law enforcement agencies to “crack down” on any illegal activities related to BTC. He also said the FSC will publish a statement jointly with the central bank to inform other countries of such regulations.

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