My company, JKLS Africa & Associates deals with worst case scenarios. We are not really interested in much else and flatly refuse to do debt collection. Firstly I am not geared to do so and secondly I dislike it. Rather go to the lads who enjoy that type of thing, I don’t but we are able to structure your company in such a way and tell you what to do not to fall into the debt trap. I even wrote a book I am immensely proud of on what to do when debt collectors come after you and you find out your mates at the local bank is indeed banksters and your contract with them based on sincere and complete distrust. The book is called Your Worst Enemy (a bank) and you can download it for free. Of all my free legal books this is the one I am the most proud off. You will be very surprised how much legal rights you have against the banksters. It is by far not a one way street with them acting as hooligans. Ironically, everything in that book is what a practising attorney would have told you if you had the money to see one. However most people cannot afford a lawyer, you have to be rich or extremely poor.
But we are not talking debt today but risk management which is what I do. I use forensic legal principles to tell you where you stand to get hammered from shysters in suits and shysters with guns. JKLS Africa looks at what to do when the ransom note arrives as happens more and more. Back in 2012 an amount of 500 million US dollars were paid out for ransoms in Africa. This is FBI statistics and even they admit it may be much higher. What most people don’t get unless they read my book on counter terrorism is that all terrorism is a crime and hence a police problem. If a guy gets himself kidnapped, for whatever reason, it varies from money, revenge, blackmail, terrorism and what have you, it is a crime and should be dealt with as a crime. Right? This is logical but now forensic law comes into the fray.
There is also a huge amount of civil law involved. How come you ask? Well, let us look at the scenario. Mr X is an American citizen, he works for Y Oil Company and is captured / snatched / kidnapped in Nigeria (or wherever before my Nigerian colleagues get upset). Now the ransom note is delivered. According to government policy, they don’t negotiate with terrorists. The reason, worldwide, is that if they do so many more citizens will be captured and it will become a bigger mess than usual. This is what is said by them in parrot like fashion all the time and it is political crap like always. They also say, seriously, a terrorist attack has to succeed once and they need to fail only once (the intelligence lads much abused by the media) and so it is. You know what? That is why the NSA (no such agency by God) is wiretapping every phone call in the world. That is why they break the rules and bend the law, because of this utterly stupid idea. It goes back to the 1920s and an Italian general interested in aviation. The saying stated that “the bomber will always get through” and they meant aircraft, bombers, not idiots dying in a flash in a market place. And yet, history will show you despite this, the bombers did get through, Nazi Germany did not break morally and neither did Londoners under the so called “Blitz” or the V1 rocket attacks. It took millions of men and thousands of tanks to break through and get them to surrender. What does this mean from a counter terrorism view? It means at some stage some punk is going to get lucky and get through. Will that be the end of America or London or France or whoever if another 9/11 takes place? Absolutely not and thus my stated view that politicians are placing way too much pressure on the intelligence community with their view of “fail only once.” Wake up, it is going to happen.
So if a government is not negotiating officially (a lie, they do negotiate and they do pay ransom, Italy is well known to do so) what about a company? Are you allowed to negotiate and note JKLS does not negotiate, we train you in what to do and look at the legal aspects which no one else have the knowledge to do. I invented the Forensic Legal system in 1998 whilst trying to protect Mr Mandela’s trademarked face against abuse. The money is supposed to go to the Children’s Fund and I must wonder where the new bank note royalties are going. That is not my problem though, whatever. Nothing prevents a company from negotiating as long as it does not interfere with the police that may see it as a crime. Then there are questions like evidence handling, that ransom note, it is evidence and the best of all, civil suits against you as a company. In law, as I said so many times before, you are presumed to be a caring boss who reduced the risk of injury and death at the work place to the minimum. That means protective gear on a building site, warning signs etc. as you see with the much derided (with reason) SHEQ lads. Now what is the difference in sending a man to Africa knowing he may be in harm’s way and yet, you do nothing to protect or train him to survive? Nor do you have any plans what to do when the worst happens except to call the police (a good idea but not good enough). It is a matter of time before the companies are going to get a wakeup call in the form of millions of dollars in law suits and worse, the bad publicity coming with such things. They cannot even deal with banner ads, how will they deal with such things then?
So I was rather interested yesterday to see President Obama changing the American policy to that of negotiating for the release of their citizens. I noted the immediate frog choir from the Republicans on the “we don’t negotiate with terrorists without giving any other solution.” I have news for you, even President Reagan negotiated, Iran / Contra, we know our history. Being in this world for years now I can tell you, everyone negotiates. Mr Obama was just confirming an open secret. Will it place more people in danger? Probably not more than usual for the Americans also have the military means to do something about it in SEAL Team Six and the Army’s DELTA lads. What does this mean to us? We deal with such things in our course, what to expect when the rescue effort takes place. Do you know when the Israeli Sayaret Matkal is involved, and they will be if there is an Israeli amongst you, they operate completely differently? Do you know the aircraft you are on decides who will rescue you and yes that makes one hell of a difference, I will put my life in the capable hands of the South African Special Forces lads but not in any other African country, but will they be deployed? Nah, don’t think so, so I advise you fly US, UK, France or German airlines. So many tricks of the trade most don’t know, even those copying me these days.
In short, yes I am glad for the news that the governments are taking a more active role and admitting it. Up to now the Embassies failed the hostage and the company he works for every time.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in hostage survival training and reducing legal risk in Sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters. Koos is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.