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I owe my life to those who paid my ransom. But should Ottawa pay ransoms? No

by Jeff Thompson
May 2016

Crisis Negotiator Blog by Jeff Thompson, guest post by Amanda Linhout with the National Post

Jeff Thompson
There is an audio file stored on my mom’s computer, labelled “The Bad Call.” It’s a recording of a two-minute call between her and me on Sept. 9, 2009. I had, at that point, been a hostage in Somalia for over a year. My captors — a radicalized criminal group — were pointing guns at my head. I had shackles around my legs and had endured almost daily abuse. It was not uncommon for them to beat me or otherwise push me to the brink of desperation and then immediately dial my mother’s cellphone number.

Why? Because they wanted a ransom.

With the brutal murder of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel in the Philippines this week by terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, the ransom debate is again playing out. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirmed the Canadian government’s long-standing ban on paying ransoms for hostages: 
“Paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live, work and travel around the globe every single year,” he said.
...The Harper (Canadian) government told my family from the start that it couldn’t, and wouldn’t, negotiate a ransom deal with my captors. But it did say many times that it had a great track record of bringing hostages home safely, without payment.
Read her full article at the National Post [HERE]. 

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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