Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Wackenhut, Murder, and Vetting Employees

The Washington Post  Associated Press October 1, 2012WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won’t let the family of a raped and murdered college girl sue the employer of her killers for her 1979 death.

The high court on Monday refused to let the parents of Janet Chandler sue Wackenhut Corp., which in 1979 was hired to send security guards to Holland, Mich., to provide security during a strike.

Chandler, who was a 23-year-old college student working at a hotel, was kidnaped, raped and killed by Wackenhut guards, who then covered up her death. Six people were convicted of first or second degree murder, five of whom worked for Wackenhut. But the federal courts have said Chandler’s family cannot sue Wackenhut for her long-ago death.The high court refused to reconsider that ruling.

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contractor Oversight, Lawsuits, Vetting Employees, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thousands of U.S. Civilians in Middle East Vulnerable to Iran Retaliation

Spy Talk   March 19, 2012

Tens of thousands of Americans in the Middle East–not just Israelis–are potentially vulnerable to Iranian retaliation for attacks on its nuclear facilities, a fact underscored by the mysterious emergence last week of an American contractor who said he’d been kidnapped by a pro-Iran shiite militia in Iraq.

The American embassy in Baghdad said it had no records of the disappearance of Randy Michael Hultz, a former U.S. Army soldier who had returned to pursue business opportunities in Iraq. Hultz said h’d been held for nine months by a paramilitary group connected to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Iraqi shiite leader who is allied with Iran.

But even before the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq in December, the American Embassy had issued an official warning to its approximately 16,000 employees, 80 per cent of them security contractors, about the threat of kidnapping.

The threat came mainly from pro-Iran militias, analysts said.

Please see the original and read more here

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iran, Iraq, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Colombian rebels say they’ll no longer kidnap, will free all captives

AP at Washington Post  February 26, 2012

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s main rebel group said Sunday it is abandoning the practice of kidnapping and will soon free its last remaining “prisoners of war,” 10 security force members held for as long as 14 years.

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced on its website that it would no longer kidnap civilians “for financial ends,” marking the first time the rebels have unequivocally renounced a tool they have long employed against Colombia’s well-heeled.

It is not clear whether an order has been given to release ransom-kidnapping victims currently held by the rebels, whose number is not known.

The FARC did not provide a date for the liberation of the 10 security force members, two fewer than the government says it holds

Please see the original and read more here

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Columbia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery revealed in Rachel Weisz film?

The Whistleblower is a shocking film that reveals how Balkan peacekeepers turned a blind eye to kidnapping, torture and rape. But these abuses still go on

“Those girls are whores of war. It happens.”

The Guardian  January 14, 2012

We do not see the torture inflicted on one girl for trying to flee her captors, but we see the tears of her fellow slaves forced to watch. We see the iron bar tossed on to the cellar floor when the punishment is over, and we know what has happened.

The Whistleblower spares you little. It is a film about that most depraved of crimes: trafficking women for enslaved sex, rape and even murder.

As a dramatised portrayal of reality, however, The Whistleblower is “a day at the beach compared to what happened in real life”, says its director, Larysa Kondracki. “We show what is just about permissible to show. We couldn’t possibly include the three-week desensitisation period, when they burn the girls in particular places. We couldn’t really capture the hopelessness of life these women are subjected to.”

Starring Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower, released tomorrow on DVD, is the most searing drama-documentary of recent years and has won many prizes. But more important than the accolades is that everything in the film is true. The film deals with enslavement and rape in Bosnia, not during wartime 20 years ago but during the peace. Worse, not only were the enslaved women’s “clients” soldiers and police officers – so too were the traffickers, protected at the top of the United Nations operation in Bosnia

Please read the entire story here

January 15, 2012 Posted by | Balkans, Civilian Contractors, DynCorp, Human Trafficking, Rape, United Nations | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Security firms fight tide of kidnappings in Venezuela

Security has become a key election issue and private contractors are multiplying in Latin America’s abduction capital

The Guardian November 18, 2011

When the Venezuelan baseball star Wilson Ramos was freed from his two-day kidnapping ordeal last week he flung his arms around his rescuers and wept in disbelief. It was a desperate embrace that Miguel Dao recognised only too well.

“Rescuing somebody who has been kidnapped is one of those strange situations where the victim is forced to have total trust in a stranger,” said Dao, a 62-year-old Caracas-based kidnap negotiator. “A very special kind of bond arises.”

Once the head of the Technical Investigative Police, Venezuela‘s answer to the FBI, Dao is now part of a growing team of negotiators and private security contractors battling to stem a tide of kidnappings in what has become Latin America’s abduction capital.

“My first advice is always to inform the police, preferably from a phone different to their own, and to delay paying a ransom as long as possible,” said the former lawyer, whose firm is based in the upmarket Chuao neighbourhood.

years ago kidnappings were a distant concern for most Venezuelans, registering only via the occasional news report of ranchers being seized along the border with Colombia.

This year more than 1,000 traditional ransom kidnappings have been reported in Venezuela. Add to that a spike in the number of so-called secuestros express, or express kidnappings – in which victims are abducted and frog-marched to cash machines – and an unknown number of unreported crimes and the true toll is likely to be far higher. Venezuela’s National Statistics Institute claims that more than 16,000 people were kidnapped in 2009

Please read the entire article here

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Four Turkish Engineers Kidnapped in Afghanistan

Four Turkish engineers have been kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan as the security situation deteriorates in the war-ravaged country, officials say.
by Press TV

A top provincial official said the Turkish nationals went missing in Paktia Province along with their Afghan driver. He added that he men were ambushed by unknown gunmen.

“Four Turkish engineers working with a border police unit were kidnapped along with their Afghan driver and have been taken away to an unknown location,” DPA quoted Rohullah Samoon, spokesman for the provincial governor as saying.

Sources say the abductees worked for a construction company.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. However, several militant groups and kidnapping-for-ransom gangs are active in the volatile region.   Please read the entire article here

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

The £1 billion hostage trade

How kidnapping became a global industry. Esme McAvoy and David Randall investigate.

Last week, the British aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed when US forces stormed the camp of the group holding her to ransom. In September, eight tourists died during a botched hostage rescue in Manila.

In August, three Russian airmen were kidnapped in Darfur. In July, four journalists were seized in Mexico. In June, a Russian businessman’s grand-daughter was taken hostage. In May, it was Chinese technicians in Nigeria; in April, eight Red Cross workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo; in March, a British film-maker in Pakistan; in February, four Pakistani employees of a US aid agency; and in January, a US contractor in Iraq.

A ship seized off Somalia was redeemed for $7m, (£4.4m) a ransom of $550,000 was paid for a German banker’s wife, and, with $300,000 for an oil worker here and $10,000 for a shopkeeper’s son there, and with governments and insurers making their secret cash drops, it all adds up. If you are a hostage-taker, 2010 is turning out to be a very profitable year.

From Mexico City to Mogadishu, from Mosul to Manila, the numbers of aid workers, Western staff, tourists and locals taken hostage is rising. In Mexico, more than 7,000 were held in 2008 alone, in Nigeria at least 1,000 were taken last year, and in Somalia, foreigners are being kidnapped at a rate of 106 a month. All told, at least 12,000 people are now taken hostage each year, and this weekend more than 2,000 – at least 400 of whom are foreigners – are enduring yet another day in a makeshift “prison”, not knowing, from hour to hour, if they will be freed or whether, once their trade-in value is no longer worth the trouble of their keep, they will be dispensed with. And these numbers do not include the many thousands of children who are abducted as part of marital disputes, or the thousands of women victims of bride kidnapping.

The ransom profits are enormous – and growing. Police in Nigeria estimate that ransoms paid there between 2006 and 2008 exceeded $100m. Al-Qa’ida in West Africa alone makes millions taking hostages. What was once an activity undertaken mainly by insurgents and guerrillas keen to make a political point, or acquire a human bargaining chip, is becoming increasingly commercialised. These days, most hostages are taken for ransom, with sums as high as $1.6m paid for their safe return.

And so has grown up a whole industry to counteract the criminals: firms offering kidnap and ransom insurance, highly paid negotiators, lawyers, and security personnel. Today, after an investigation prompted by Anthony Grey, the Reuters journalist who was held hostage in China for 27 months in the 1960s, we reveal the extraordinary extent of one of the 21st century’s least welcome success stories – the hostage industry, worth at least £1bn a year.

Please read the entire story here

October 16, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Pakistan, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN aid worker kidnapped in Somalia

MOGADISHU (AFP) Gunmen in Somalia kidnapped Sunday a local employee with UN demining agency Mine Action, officials and relatives said.

Said Moalim Bashir, a public liaison officer for the agency, was captured while travelling to Mogadishu from Teredishe, a densely populated area outside the capital where thousands of displaced families live, they said.

“We got the information regarding his kidnap today (Sunday) after his driver who was apparently held with him was released,” a local Mine Action official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We don?t know his whereabouts but we have confirmed he was taken hostage by gunmen,” the official said.

Somalia?s Islamist Shebab insurgents banned the operations of Mine Action in southern Somalia in December 2009, accusing the organisation of disturbing peace and justice in the country.

Unknown hooded gunmen stopped Bashir’s car near a camp for displaced persons and later released his driver, a relative told AFP.

“They intercepted his car and forced the driver to turn the vehicle from its direction, taking Bashir with them, and no one knows his fate so far,” relative Abdukar Mohamed told AFP.

“The kidnappers did not make any contact yet and they switched his phone off. We are very worried about his situation,” he said.

Kidnappings, including of foreign nationals, is rampant in Somalia, a Horn of Africa country ravaged by cycles of devastating violence and lawlessness and struggling to resist a push by Islamist insurgents.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Demining, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joshua Munns’, Jon Cote’s, John Young’s families sues State Dept

Anderson man’s family sues over his torture death in Iraq

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’

but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . .

As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

The father and stepmother of an Anderson private security contractor who was abducted in Iraq, held for ransom and later tortured and beheaded have sued officials at the U.S. State Department alleging that the nation’s policy of not negotiating with terrorists hindered their efforts to save their son.

In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. Eastern District Court in Sacramento, Mark and Christa Munns allege that State Department officials kept them in the dark about the months-long kidnapping investigation and then blocked the family’s efforts to negotiate with the kidnappers.

Joshua Munns, along with four other private security contractors, was taken hostage on Nov. 16, 2006 after the convoy they were guarding was ambushed by a group of masked and armed men at a fake checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Safwan.

Before becoming a contractor, Munns, 23, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005 and served two tours in Iraq as a scout and sniper.

The lawsuit also questions United States government’s definition of the word “terrorist” and the “War on Terror,” and is scathingly critical of the nation’s reliance on private security contractors to fight America’s battles and then refusing to support them when they’re kidnapped, injured or killed.

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’ but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . . As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

Mark and Christa Munns filed the suit with the family members of two of the other abducted contractors, John Cote and John Young.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Foo, the families’ State Department liaison during the kidnapping investigation, were named in the suit as codefendants.

Clinton was appointed to Secretary of State after Barack Obama was elected president. During the Munns hostage situation, Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State under President Bush.

The suit demands the government pay the families their children’s life insurance benefits, since the contractors were working for the government at the time.

Crescent Security, the firm for which Munns and the other contracters worked, hasn’t paid any death benefits to the families, the suit alleges.

The suit also seeks an injunction stopping the U.S. government from giving private military forces “complete impunity” to operate free from U.S. and Iraqi laws. The suit says that is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and led to “a free fire zone” in which contractors were free to open fire without repercussions.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment