Islamist terrorism raises threat level of kidnap in Kenya to Red

Kidnap Risk in Kenya
A map showing the kidnap threat risk in Kenya. Map: NYA/Google

Global risk and crisis management consultancy NYA International today released its 2016 Kidnap and Piracy Map which shows the perceived threat in Kenya has been raised from medium to high.

NYA have also published their Global Kidnap Review, a special report examining kidnap for ransom over 2015 and identifying themes for 2016.

Together, the map and report provide a guide for organisations on the threats to their people and operations worldwide.

“Both foreign and domestic nationals continued to face a high kidnap threat in border areas close to Somalia. Although reports are rare due to fear of reprisals, Al- Shabaab militants and criminal groups regularly conduct kidnappings near porous border areas. The kidnapping of teacher on 12 October from a refugee camp highlights the high threat to NGO workers. Kenya’s growing middle class were most at threat, as demonstrated by the August kidnapping of a footballer in Nairobi.”

Kidnap incidents by region 2015

Intensified civil conflicts in Africa, entrenched criminality in Latin America and the advance of Islamist militancy in spaces worldwide have contributed to “severe” kidnap ratings for 11 countries, up from eight in 2015. A further 11 countries, including India, Egypt, Lebanon, Cameroon and Kenya moved from “medium” to “high” – the latter four of these all face significant threats from Islamist militancy.

In 2016, global economic uncertainty and low oil prices threatens to exacerbate the kidnapping threat in countries such as Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, where threats are already high to severe.

They predict that the kidnap threat in 2016 will remain high as the security situation is unlikely to improve due to high crime levels, the presence of domestic Islamist extremist groups and the on-going conflict in neighbouring Somalia. NYA also believe that foreign nationals are likely to be increasingly targeted this year.

Key Findings of the report

Kidnap for ransom

  • 11 countries face a severe kidnapping threat: Afghanistan, CAR, DRC, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Egypt, Cameroon, Lebanon and Kenya were four of 11 countries that moved from medium to high threat. Each is facing domestic or neighbouring Islamist militancy, contributing to the increase.
  • The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s top kidnapping hotspot, where Abu Sayyaf and the New People’s Army continue to pose a significant kidnap threat alongside criminal gangs.
  • Colombia gives cause for optimism, as continuing peace talks with the FARC demonstrate mediation can alleviate once severe kidnap threat.
  • Although foreign nationals bear a disproportionate threat burden, domestic nationals are more likely to be kidnapped, with nine in 10 victims in 2015 kidnapped in their home country.
  • Asia accounted for 40% of kidnap incidents, Africa 34%, the Americas 14%, the Middle East 10%. Europe and the CIS accounted for 2%.


  • Nigeria’s southern coast, from Ondo State to the Cameroon border is classified as a severe threat area due to frequent hijacking and attacks, characterised by crew kidnapping and often lethal violence.The area off Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb is classified severe.
  • Although no large commercial vessels have been hijacked in recent years off Somalia, periodic incidents and sightings indicate a severe threat remains.
  • Bangladesh and Venezuela have high threat areas in their waters due to repeated hijackings and attacks against typically smaller vessels.
  • There is a severe threat in the Malacca Straits, off Singapore and in the waters of the South China Sea south of Brunei, reflecting high frequencies of hijack, extended duration cargo theft and criminal boarding.

Kidnap victim nationality 2015

The findings are based on information collected daily by NYA’s 24/7 team of analysts, including its database of over 14,000 kidnap incidents and piracy statistics from MarTrack™ – NYA’s integrated fleet risk management platform.

The Kidnap and Piracy map 2016 displays countries on a spectrum from insignificant to severe for kidnapping threat and highlights areas at high and severe threat of maritime piracy.

You can see the full world map below and to read the full report, please click this link to the NYA January Kidnap Review.

NYA 2016 Kidnap and Piracy map

There are severe threat ratings for piracy off Somalia, Nigeria, Singapore and Malaysia.

Somali pirate
A Somali pirate with weapons aboard a vessel. Photo: Jan van Rijn, Dutch mariner

Although there have been no hijackings of large commercial vessels off Somalia since 2012, attacks, sightings and hijackings of smaller vessels in 2015 indicate the threat remains severe.

Extremely violent hijackings, offshore crew kidnappings and a return to militancy in the Delta sees Nigeria retain its severe threat rating. Criminal boardings off Singapore and Malaysia remain constant, and periodic hijackings for cargo theft contribute to its severe rating.

“NYA’s 2016 Kidnap and Piracy map shows some of the security threats that organisations face as they operate globally. We advise organisations to be fully informed about the threats, put appropriate mitigation measures in place, provide security training for their staff, and ensure that the organisation is prepared to response to incidents of this nature, if they occur. Good security risk and crisis management helps protect human lives, and safeguard the organisation’s operations and reputation.” – Alex Kemp, Managing Director of NYA

NYA International is a leading global risk and crisis management consultancy which since 1990 has helped organisations to maximise opportunities and operate successfully in complex environments around the world.

They work with their clients to understand the threats and vulnerabilities to their people, assets and international operations, improve their resilience and effectively mitigate and manage a wide range of security-related problems and crises.

NYA has one of the largest specialist response teams in the industry and experience of advising on around 80-100 crisis incidents each year.