SECURITY UPDATE – MAY 2014
31 May Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (28), the only American soldier held prisoner by the Taliban, was released in exchange for five Afghan detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after nearly five years in captivity. The handover followed secret and indirect negotiations between the United States and the Taliban with the government of Qatar acting as the go-between.
1 May Saif Aslum (35), a businessman, was kidnapped in Narayangani city near the Sanarpar Bus Stand while walking back from visiting a sawmill. His wife reported that the kidnappers had contacted her with a ransom demand of BDT1 million (USD12,900). The police reported that the manager of a company with which the victim is associated also reported that he had been contacted with a ransom demand. He was released after being held for 26 hours. It is not known if a ransom was paid.
4 May After a tip off, police rescued Abdul Hakim (50), an automobile spare parts trader, who had been kidnapped 48 hours earlier in Bangshal. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family and demanded a ransom of BDT310,000 (USD4,000) for his release. The police arrested five of the alleged kidnappers. The victim had been tortured during his captivity.
19 May Two 23 year old Chinese contractors working at a Wanbao Mining Company copper mine, were released by activists after being held for 30 hours. The activists were demanding the closure of the mine. The government sent a team to the area to negotiate the men’s release. Villagers had demanded their land back so they could farm it.
12 May Reports stated that kidnappings for ransom had become an industry in Sindh over the previous two months with at least 62 kidnapping incidents during the period. In spite of instructions from the government to the Sindh police, there has not been a single positive result in kidnapping cases.
18 May The Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) and Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) conducted a joint raid in Khamiso Goth, Gulshan-e-Maymar, to rescue Faisal Mursaleen, a goldsmith, who had been kidnapped on 14 May in Gulshan-e-Maymar. Four alleged kidnappers were killed during an exchange of fire. The victim had been kidnapped while returning from visiting the construction site of his new residence. The kidnappers contacted the family and demanded a ransom of Rs. 1 million (USD10,000). The police traced the source of the calls and mounted the operation. Officials claimed that the gang had been involved in other kidnapping for ransom operations.
20 May Abdullah Bahar, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Commander in South Waziristan, informed the media that the TTP had kidnapped a Chinese tourist, named as Hong Xudong, from Dera Ismail Khan district. The motive for the kidnapping was to use the Chinese national in future negotiations with the Pakistani government for the release of arrested members of TTP. The victim was cycling from Lahore to Quetta.
31 May Rana Jamil Hassan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member of Punjab Assembly, was kidnapped near Pindi Bhatiyan while travelling with his wife to Islamabad when unidentified armed men stopped their vehicle. The kidnappers released the victim’s wife with a message to arrange a ransom of Rs. 50 million (USD500,000) and said they would contact her again in three days.
6 May Five gunmen in military uniform kidnapped Chinese national, Yang Zai Lin (34), manager of the Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd fish farm at Lahad Datu, Sabah, at around 2:45am. The kidnappers arrived in a fibreglass speedboat. They fired at Malaysian security forces before fleeing towards the Philippines with their hostage.
7 May Lt. Gen Roy Deveraturda, Commander, Philippines Armed Forces Western Command, said that two German nationals, Stefan Victor Okonek (71), and Herike Diesen (55), were missing from a yacht travelling from Palawan in the Philippines to Sabah. There were fears that they might have been kidnapped by members of Abu Sayyaf. He added they had left Palawan on 25 April and, although the yacht had been found, there was no sign of the two men.
21 May A former civil servant who staged his own kidnap, was arrested as he was withdrawing the “ransom” from an automated teller machine (ATM) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The man, who recently lost his job, sent a text message to his wife from a phone number that was not known to her. He claimed he was being held by a group of men and would only be released after a ransom of RM8,000 (USD2,500) was paid into a bank account. He sent his wife a selfie he had taken as “Proof of Life” after he was allegedly kidnapped on 7 May. After negotiations, his wife managed to reduce the demand to RM5,000 (USD1,600) and paid it into the nominated account on 16 May. The police mounted a surveillance operation covering ATMs in the city.
31 May Chinese national, Gao Hua Yuan (29), and Filipina, Marcy Dayawan (40), were released by their Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. The two women had been kidnapped from the Singamata Adventures Reef and Resort, Semporna, Sabah, on 2 April. The kidnappers were reported to have demanded a ransom of RM36.4 million (USD11 million). Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak, said that no ransom was paid but Philippines police sources said that a “large ransom” had been paid without giving details.
26 May Dina Lim (45) and her daughter, Yahong Lim Tan (19), were kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen from the family owned Dalby’s videoke bar in Isabela City on 22 May. Dina called her son, Sean Lim, and said the kidnappers wanted P30 million (USD690,000) for their release. He confirmed it was the voice of his mother. Dina Lim remains a Chinese citizen although she has been living with a Filipino for ten years.
28 May The Hong Kong Security Bureau updated its latest outbound travel alert on the Philippines by posting the following warning: “In late May 2014, kidnapping continued to occur in Mindanao in southern Philippines. Residents are advised to avoid travelling to southern and western Mindanao, including Zamboanga Peninsula and Sula Archipelago”. However, it did not upgrade the alert level from “amber”.
28 May Sugar Diane Buenviaje, a businesswoman whose family owns general merchandise enterprises, was freed by her kidnappers near Jolo town. She was kidnapped in February by gunmen from Mapun, Tawi-Tawi. It is not known how much ransom her family paid.
2 May The police reported an increase in “kidnap scammers” who contact people by telephone and create fear by stating that a loved one has been “kidnapped”. Most of those who have been contacted have telephone numbers beginning 6363. In 2012 during the period January to March, 83 cases were reported with five people falling prey to the scam. In the same period last year there were 49 reported cases but for the first three months in 2014 there have been 91 reported cases 12 of which were successful netting S$60,000 (USD48,000).