Sunday, April 29, 2012

Khalil Dale Murder

Sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Khalil Dale, whose body was found in Quetta, Pakistan. Mr. Dale, a British national and longtime, experienced ICRC staffer, was abducted from his vehicle in January (his driver was released following the kidnapping). There were many indications the abduction was both well-planned and targeted.

In the past, organizations have been successful in resolving abductions in Pakistan through good-faith negotiations. Unfortunately, this incident, and several others which have not been widely publicized, cast doubt on a negotiation strategy always working. Over the past nine months, there appears to be a disturbing trend emerging in Pakistan, where certain groups are making very strident political and monetary demands for the safe release of abducted staff members (ex-pats, national, and local staff have all been victims). The abductors leave little room for negotiation and have no qualms about carrying out violent acts if their demands are not met within set time frames.

Security practitioners and managers working for humanitarian organizations in the region need to be aware that the rules may be changing when it comes to abductions.
  • It would be unwise to assume all abductors will engage in negotiations and eventually agree to reduced demands.
  • It would be unwise to assume terms for release often agreed upon in the past will generally be the same.
  • It would be unwise to assume an abduction may only consist of a single individual.
  • It would be unwise to underestimate the sophistication of some abductors when it comes to operational tactics, use of technology, and psychological strategies employed before and during negotiations.
Making assumptions based on what has worked in the past, may sadly result in a tragic outcome.

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