By Kerry Paton
On average, every two weeks, a US citizen is either killed, abducted, or imprisoned overseas. We rarely hear about these tragedies but they are relatively common.
As one who has been involved in human recovery and counter terrorism operations, traveling abroad can be scary.
My time spent working for the US military and as a contractor has allowed me opportunities to attend some of the world’s most challenging personal security and survival schools.
I have been trained in passive elicitation techniques which are used to quickly procure information from human sources. At the same time, I can quickly detect when someone is trying these techniques on me.
Make no mistake, even with my vast schooling and practical experiences, I always ensure key personal security measures are in place before, during, and even after I travel abroad.
I was told long ago by a career operative and mentor that “if the terrorists want to get you, no matter how good you are, they will achieve their goal.”
Imagine not having the mental tool box someone like myself has in personal security. Imagine what life must be like for a traditional US citizen traveling abroad on vacation or on business.
Traveling abroad is not easy and it can definitely be stressful. Shoot, its stressful enough even for someone like myself. Then again, I know I am not superman.
Americans have been placed in great danger the past couple of days. Multiple reports have been leaked about US secret operations abroad. These leaked reports have likely caused multiple adversaries to be skeptical toward any American they encounter.
Imagine being a normal everyday US citizen traveling abroad and getting snatched by local authorities, interrogated, and sent to prison all because they “believe” you are a spy? It’s more common than anyone could imagine-ask 53 year old Jacob Ostreicher who has been held in Bolivia for more than one year without being formally charged.
U.S. Rep. (R-NJ) Chris Smith’s trip to Bolivia last week will hopefully expedite a positive conclusion for Ostreicher’s release.
Terrorists often play the game of ransom. They want a quick monetary exchange for the abductee or they simply want to make a statement by killing those they capture.
Nation states don’t care about money and they love keeping their prisoners alive. They use abductees as political prisoners. Don’t think for a second that time spent in captivity as a political prisoner is a walk in the park.
Oftentimes political prisoners are horrifically tortured and psychologically abused. Many times women and men are even raped by guards.
During the Cold War, some Americans were held against their will in Russia. In recent months we have learned of Americans held captive by the Iranians. They have all, at one point or another, been accused as spies.
Today, Americans who travel abroad are in grave danger. Too many leaks have unfolded about US secret operations. No matter whether you’re a missionary, a non-government worker, vacationer, or a private business person, host nation officials are watching.
These leaks didn’t just endanger the lives of government or contractual operators, they endangered the lives for every American wishing to step foot on foreign soil. The duty of our elected representatives is to protect the people. These recent leaks have protected no one.
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a published author and senior analyst for WIKISTRAT.