Hostage Survival

Some Preliminary Observations

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

Describes observations on the experience of hostages held by terrorists, based on interviews with 40 former hostages, including American and foreign officials, businessmen kidnapped abroad, and private citizens kidnapped and held for ransom in the United States. Although security procedures can be annoying, basic security precautions at home, office and enroute can encourage kidnappers to choose another target. Making contingency plans for family members to follow and having one's personal papers in order can spare a hostage anxiety during captivity. Only a small fraction of hostages have been executed by their captors; thus it pays to think positively, maintaining a daily regimen of exercise, and keeping a diary if permitted. Much of a former captive's anxiety and bitterness is caused by the treatment received from associates and family after release. Being kidnapped may adversely affect physical health as well as leaving emotional scars.

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