News | Feb. 14, 2017

NSA's Response to Hostage Events: Swift and Enduring

Kidnapping for ransom and other forms of hostage-taking are not new. They occur worldwide and are widespread in a number of impoverished countries. In fact, it has become increasingly dangerous for Americans and Europeans to travel to countries and regions where terrorist organizations and other hostage takers operate. It is estimated that, since 2008, kidnapping of Westerners has yielded millions of dollars, and that this success has emboldened terrorist groups in a number of regions to view Westerners and other foreigners as valuable commodities.

The National Security Agency has historically supported the U.S. government's immediate and more enduring efforts to help recover U.S. persons held hostage abroad. Since 2008 - when a permanent Hostage Event Management Team was formed within NSA's National Security Operations Center to coordinate the Agency's support efforts around the clock - we have responded swiftly to the actions of hostage takers, provided direct support to rescue operations, and maintained vigilance for potential breakthroughs in longstanding cases. Moreover, signals intelligence has been a critical element used by the newly formed U.S. Government Hostage Recovery Working Group, which coordinates a whole-of-government response to bringing hostages back alive.

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