The Iraq hostage crisis : abductions in Iraq, April-August 2004
This report provides a brief and preliminary overview of the phenomenon of abductions of foreigners in Iraq between 1 April and 31 August 2004. Having reconstructed a timeline which includes 63 abduction incidents (159 hostages) in this period, the author uses statistical tools to describe the main patterns and developments of this hostage crisis, in particular its chronological development, targeting patterns, types of demands, and outcomes. Some of the findings and observations run counter to widespread perceptions about the hostage crisis. For example, the data show that a relatively small proportion of victims have come from coalition countries (33%), that a surprisingly large proportion of victims have come from Muslim countries (41%), and that the “confirmed survival rate” for abduction victims (including for US, UK and Italian citizens) has been relatively high. Notable chronological developments include an explosive increase in abductions in early April during the Falluja crisis, a virtual absence of abductions in May (despite the Abu Ghraib scandal), and a relative increase in the abduction rate in late July shortly after the Filipino military withdrawal from Iraq.