Ghost Boat — 140 passengers kidnapped in Libya prior to departure.

While searching for information on the “Jackals” (human traffickers involved in transporting migrants to Europe) allegedly involved in the disappearance of the Ghost Boat, I discovered a report that 140 of the 243 migrants aboard the boat were earlier kidnapped and held for ransom in Libya:

“Centoquaranta dei 243 passeggeri, tra i quali donne e bambini, erano già stati sequestrati in Libia. Li avevano liberati dopo il pagamento del riscatto: 3.600 dollari a ostaggio.”

Google translated as:

“One hundred and forty of the 243 passengers, including women and children, had been kidnapped in Libya. They had been released after payment of ransom: $ 3,600 per hostage.

Source: L’Espresso (http://espresso.repubblica.it/attualita/2014/11/10/news/ecco-dove-si-nasconde-l-uomo-della-strage-dei-profughi-dispersi-1.187220)

In Part 1. of the Ghost Boat story, Bobbie Johnson noted that kidnappings for ransom are not uncommon among vulnerable groups travelling to Europe. News reports from earlier this year describe kidnappings of migrants (also from Eritrea) by ISIS militants south of Tripoli, Libya (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3116667/ISIS-kidnap-86-Eritrean-Christians-people-smuggling-caravan-Libya-stopping-trucks-quizzing-Koran-Muslim.html). The condition of these kidnapped militants is unknown, but the news article goes on to describe how earlier in the year, ISIS militants released a video showing the execution of kidnapped migrants on a beach in Libya; apparently carried out because they were Christians.

The L’Espresso report indicates that the 140 Eritreans were released and went on to board the Ghost Boat after a ransom of several thousand dollars was paid by their families. It’s not clear whether the kidnapping was carried out by another group, or engineered by the Jackals themselves in order to extort more money from the families waiting for the migrants arrival in Europe.

Unanswered questions:

  • Were Segen and Abigail among those kidnapped? There’s no indication from Segen’s last conversation with her husband that she was, nor a suggestion that a ransom was paid, but it would be helpful to clarify this.
  • Who carried out the kidnapping? Was it a separate group or the men accused of arranging their passage on the Ghost Boat (https://medium.com/ghostboat/hunting-the-jackals-df658d2193f)
  • Who made the demands for a ransom and how was it paid? Can we track down the relatives of a kidnapped migrant who can help piece together the process by which the ransom demand was made and how the money was exchanged? If the money was wired between accounts this might give some indication as to who received it.

L’Espresso’s story goes on to describe the hope of the families of the migrants on the Ghost Boat that they may have been kidnapped a second time. Perhaps we should investigate this line of inquiry, as the missing may have been detained in Libya or elsewhere.

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