Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business

Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business

by Loretta Napoleoni


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A powerful and sophisticated underground business delivers thousands of refugees a day all along the Mediterranean coasts of Europe. The new breed of criminals that controls it has risen out of the political chaos of post-9/11 Western foreign policy and the fiasco of the Arab Spring. These merchants of men are intertwined with jihadist armed organizations such as al Qaeda in the Maghreb. They have prospered smuggling cocaine from West Africa and kidnapping Westerners. More recently, the destabilization of Syria and Iraq coupled with the rise of ISIS offered them new business opportunities in the Middle East, from selling Western hostages to jihadist groups to trafficking in refugees numbering in the millions.

Overall, the kidnapping industry today is bigger than the illegal drug trade and worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Merchants of Men is based on exclusive access to hostage negotiators actively involved in ransom negotiations and rescue missions, counter-terrorism experts, members of security services, and former hostages, among many others. The reader will discover that the protocols of prevention and rescue change according to the type of abduction and the designated targets, and will come to know first hand the range of experiences of kidnapping victims.

Will the West once again reap the benefits of the political chaos it has sown in its own backyard? From colonization to the advent of "friendly" dictatorial regimes, today's fast-aging European nations are buyers on the refugee market. New workers are needed, and the merchants of men are supplying them. But only skilled, highly educated refugees are wanted. As a tsunami of migrants and refugees floods Europe, new questions almost too numerous to count must be answered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609807085
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publication date: 08/30/2016
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

LORETTA NAPOLEONI is the author of international bestsellers The Islamist Phoenix: The Islamist State (ISIS) and the Redrawing of the Middle East, Rogue Economics: Capitalism's New Reality, and Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism. As chairperson of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks. She lives in London and Montana, USA.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Prologue xiii

Part 1

Chapter 1 Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Protocol 3

Chapter 2 Feeding the Bears 21

Chapter 3 Trafficking Migrants 37

Chapter 4 The Economics of Piracy 57

Chapter 5 The Somali Diaspora's Gulf Connection 75

Chapter 6 Smoke and Mirrors of the Syrian Civil War 89

Part 2

Chapter 7 The Negotiator1 107

Chapter 8 The Ransom 115

Chapter 9 The Golden Hour-Anatomy of a Kidnapping 129

Chapter 10 The Prey-Seeking a New Identity 145

Chapter 11 The Mythology of Western Hostages 163

Part 3

Chapter 12 The End of Truth 187

Chapter 13 Playing Chess with the Hostages' Lives 207

Chapter 14 A Refugee Love Story 219

Chapter 15 The Political Boomerang 231

Epilogue: Brexit 247

Glossary 251

Notes 261

Acknowledgments 273

Index 277

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