Kidnapping and extortion à la Muammar al-Gaddafi

How to extort money and favors out of a neighboring state:
  1. Arrest some volunteers who have come to help people in your country.
  2. Accuse them of griveous crimes they didn't commit.
  3. Stage a trial in which they are found guilty and sentenced to death.
  4. Prolong their ordeal and make more noises and sentences until their home country is willing to trade something big for them.
  5. Ship them back home in exchange for a bounty of a deal.
You have to hand it to him. It's so preposterous, no one else could have pulled this off but Muammar al-Gaddafi.

How much did the EU pay to get these medics back? About half a billion dollars just to compensate the families of the children - whose deaths were almost certainly due to poor hygiene in Libya's hospitals, and not due to malice on behalf of the volunteers.


boris kolar said…
Sadly, it's not just Gaddafi that can pull this off. Islamic extremists also get ransom for release of their hostages. The sad part is that such behavior makes kidnapping a very profitable business.

Release of hostages is obviously worth a lot, but that doesn't mean extortionists should be paid. If they get paid, then where's the limit? Should governments pay up to $1,000,000 per hostage, or maybe $1,000,000,000? What if some extortionist demands 0.1% more than that? Would you let hostages die because the ransom is like $100 to high?

The only policy that makes sense is to refuse payment of any amount. I'd say no even if they demand just one slice of pizza.
Tomaz said…
I'd send them another half a million - in good ol' bomb currency.
Tomaz said…
"Should governments pay up to $1,000,000 per hostage, or maybe $1,000,000,000?"

If you decide to enter the market then you should accept the fact that the market will decide about that.

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