The Truth Is

We are here to help. It is our heart and our life’s calling. We realize that we have had a lot of sobering things to say. Yesterday, I had lunch with someone and we were discussing my personal story and that of Captive Audience. He said to me, “You see this plate? You see this plate entirely differently than the rest of the world. 8.44 billion people out there see things one way. You and maybe 1000 others see it differently. What you know and what you see is already happening everywhere around us. You are not creating the problem. You simply acknowledge and understand it. Your job is to help everyone else do the same.” I was struck by his words. They were profoundly true. The problem set that Captive Audience is tackling is hidden in shadows. It is unknown and unfelt by most of the human population. It goes on every day in every place, unseen. But, have you ever thought, no matter how briefly, about what it would be like to live in captivity? We usually don’t let our minds go there for long or very deeply because it quickly becomes painful. What would a life without freedom be? How can a person grow in an environment that strips them of rights and all human dignity? What if it happened to me?

These are some of the questions we seek to answer. These are some of the problems we want to solve. Even better, prevent. The better and more effective counter narcotics measures have become, the more the criminal elements have turned to buying and selling humans as a replacement, illicit revenue stream. There is less risk and more reward and there are so many ways to sell human beings. When one sells drugs, they sell one drug one time and it is gone. One can sell a human over and over again through forced prostitution. One human being can be ransomed for millions of dollars. One human being can be scrapped and sold for $150,000 in wholesale parts. One human can be used for years to decades as forced and unpaid labor in homes, factories, mines, etc. One child can be stolen and sold on the black market to parents who want a child to raise or to a brothel with a pedophiliac clientele. Junior High School students are coerced into prostitution after school every day and then go home to parents who know nothing about what is happening.  Vacationers and adventurers and missionaries and humanitarian aid workers and journalists and disaster relief personnel and search and rescue folks get targeted and kidnapped while trying to do good and spend months to years in captivity under brutal conditions as they await a ransom payment for their release. Professors King and Weeks both spent years in captivity with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. They were kidnapped August 7, 2016 and were just released last week in a prisoner exchange. They lost over three years of their lives to captivity and they will spend the rest of their natural lives trying to recover an elusive sense of stability and safety.

These are only some of the things we see every day. Our goal is not to scare you. We would not bring up a problem without proposing a solution. We have seen and studied and lived and breathed and worked this problem for so long. Our solution is to tackle it from 360 degrees. We train those who need to know how to protect themselves so that we can help them hold on to their freedom. This training is available to everyone. The information and skills we teach are the ones we have learned through decades of field experience. These are not just for service men and women or government operatives. We bring the best of our training and experience to you. We have robust recovery capabilities available to those for whom it has already gone too far. We also have trauma-informed psychology capabilities to get recovered people stabilized and handed off to longer term care. In other words, we encircle the problem before, during, and after.

Please reach out if we can help you at any point along the timeline. We are here to serve.

Labor Trafficking, Servitude, and Ruses to bring people to the US

We have human trafficking going on right under our noses here in the United States. My question is, how often do we miss it? Human beings are often brought to the United States and other western countries with the promise of a job, education, and a better life only to end up here exploited by opportunists.

Labor trafficking and domestic servitude are very similar to sex trafficking and are often times tied to the same people. Opportunists capitalize on exploiting humans at every turn. Cheap or free labor can be found in third world countries, recruited, and brought here under a host of ruses. Once here they can easily be separated from their passport and forced to pay back their recruiter for the plane ticket, lodging, and other niceties by working for free. We have encountered multiple cases of domestic slavery to find people destitute living under poor conditions in the home of their captor. Or in other cases forced to take care of kids, the elderly, or working as domestic servants. Do you know what to look for?

  1. Absence of paperwork, passport, or identification
  2. Evasive answers about their presence and how they got here
  3. Evasive answers about their work many of which do not make sense
  4. Being protective of their boss and avoiding real answers about their relationship
  5. Bruises and unexplained injuries
  6. Inability to maintain eye contact
  7. Never leaving the house or apartment without supervision
  8. Not speaking or replying to questions without permission
  9. Absence of income or large unsettled debt owed to one individual, nonprofit, or company.
  10. You are looking at the situation and it makes absolutely no sense.

Human trafficking takes all shapes and sizes. Human Trafficking is not just linked to sex and it is often right in our face. Human trafficking effects all, male and female, young and old, European, Asian, African, South American, and Australian, and North American. It is up to us to recognize the signs and report it when we see it. You can report these incidents to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 888 373 7888, or SMS 233733.

Put us in, Coach!

Taking the fight to the kidnappers and human traffickers

Kidnappers and Human Traffickers are operating without impunity throughout the world. There are currently an estimated 25-30 million humans in captivity being sold for sex, forced into labor, or exploited for ransom. Kidnapping networks on average get $150,000 to $500,000 USD per person in ransom payments. Ransoms often get far more expensive with some reaching exorbitant amounts reaching into the millions. Criminals, terrorists, cartels, gangs, and opportunists continue to find new ways to exploit human beings for profit, in one recent case, selling trafficked girls for sex to trafficked laborers.

Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team LLC and soon Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team INC are focused on fighting back against this scourge. We would like to align with groups who are traveling to the farthest reaches of the globe. We would like to provide you with the training you need to stay safe and not become a statistic. We would also like to be on speed dial if something does happen and you need crisis support. We would like to interface with organizations on the front lines of the anti-human trafficking fight. We would like to offer our experience, tools, and capabilities to help end the scourge and bring people home. We also realize that just because someone is home the fight is not over. It may take years for a kidnapping or trafficking victim to recover.

This problem is here in our own back yard and it extends through every country and every culture. We look forward to providing support to the fight, prevent those who serve from becoming victims, support those who need crisis support, and go after the networks of criminals who conduct these atrocities. “Put us in, Coach!”

Why is it easier for Human Traffickers, Kidnappers, and Criminals to succeed than for those who fight against them?

Over two years ago, we started Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team in order to fight back against human traffickers, kidnappers, and others who enslave or exploit humans in captivity. We took our decades of experience in the government sector and coupled that with additional training and certifications in the civilian sector. Not only are we comprised of experienced former Special Forces and Government operatives, but we are trained Hostage (Crisis) Negotiators, Private Investigators, Locksmiths, Wilderness First Aid Instructors, Technical Scuba Divers, Pilots, and Martial Artists. We not only provide training to individuals and groups going overseas to perform missionary service, aid work, and journalism, but also to the general public. Our Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival Courses continue to receive high marks and reviews. We have also provided investigative and crisis support on multiple overseas kidnapping and missing persons cases. We have worked directly with several governments and given them better information than they were able to obtain themselves. Despite the amazing reviews, we continue to provide far more assistance to the community without receiving a dime for it than we do for pay. In fact, once money comes up, those seeking training and help often drop off the radar. We have been pouring everything we have in to our mission to help prevent and resolve kidnappings and human trafficking situations. While we are in the process of setting up a parallel 501C Non Profit to cover the pro-bono work we are doing, we are fighting to get our services to those who need them.

Meanwhile there are an estimated 25 to 30 million humans being trafficked around the globe. Human traffickers, kidnappers, organ harvesters, sweat shop owners, and others make millions off of exploited human beings. Sadly here in the United States children, teenagers and adults alike are being trafficked, in many cases, out of their own homes. The average street pimp in the United States makes between $200,000 and $300,000 a year tax free with the high end pimps making millions of dollars a year. Everyone agrees that this is a problem but they are not willing to do anything about it. Others working in the anti-trafficking community keep anyone trying to fight against trafficking at arm’s length to ensure there is no competition. We have heard it all from those to whom we reach out, and assume we will hear even more as we try to fight the scourge of human captivity. Here are some of the things we have heard…

  1. You are a for profit and we only work with non-profits.
  2. We can replicate your training ourselves. Thank you for coming down here to teach for free, though.
  3. We have our own trainers. (Usually involving reaching out to missionary organizations. Upon investigation this is usually false.)
  4. Our high risk travelers will never be kidnapped. We don’t think your training is necessary.
  5. Three days is to long for training. Couldn’t we set up a ten minute, online briefing or course?
  6. Sure we would like to work with you. (Usually the last contact we have with them.)

The question is, why does any of this matter? Our questions back to you are how much is your life worth? Have you been trained in how to avoid situations that may lead to a kidnaping or for you to end up being extorted, robbed, murdered, or exploited by others? Have you been trained in how to survive if you are kidnapped? Does your family have a crisis plan in place in case anything bad happens in the family? Do you know what resources are available through the government and other organizations to help keep you safe? Can you get out of restraints? Pick a lock? Do you have any self-defense training in your back pocket? Do you have the presence of mind to survive the worst? Do you have the medical knowledge to treat trauma and survival emergencies? We have a vetted and proven training curriculum that answers all of these questions. We will travel to you to provide the training.

We provide:

In person consultation and training to groups and individuals

–          Anti-Kidnapping and Hostage Survival

–          Wilderness First Aid, Basic First Aid and CPR/AED. (We are certified ASHI Instructors.)

–          Women’s Self Defense, Self Defense, and in-depth home defense consultation

–          Virginia Private Investigative Services which include surveillance, counter surveillance, threat vulnerability assessments, stalking cases, skip tracing, asset research, and research and analysis. We also specialize in missing persons and anti-human trafficking cases.

–          We are available to assist with local anti-human trafficking efforts

–          We are always available to respond to overseas kidnapping, trafficking, or other related cases and family support

–          We teach wilderness survival and other related topics

–          We provide emergency preparedness planning and consultation

–          We provide virtual threat vulnerability assessments. We will look at your online profile through the lens of a criminal and show you where you are vulnerable.

If you or your family would like private, in-home instruction and you do not have time to travel to one of our classes, or you would like training for your family or group, please reach out to us at . We would love to help you stay safe here at home and abroad. If you head a missionary organization, humanitarian aid organization, are a freelance journalist, or a world traveler, we would love to hear from you. Let’s deny the bad guys the opportunity to exploit you and crush their business model by making it much harder for them. If you have business travelers or are an organization who fights against human trafficking or exploitation, please reach out to us and see how we can collaborate.


An interesting series of first hand kidnapping stories

This past week we had the opportunity to hear a harrowing story of a missionary couple who had been kidnapped in Peru in 1985. Sadly this is a near identical story to another firsthand account of the kidnapping of an American family in Peru in 2017. What should we learn from this?

In both stories, the families were wearing nice jewelry and dressed nicely when they decided to catch a taxi home from their travels in the city. In both accounts, the families felt that something was wrong and that unnecessary detours were being taken. The families were then taken to a remote location, ripped out of the taxi, summarily beaten, and shoved in a van. The men were beaten, bones broken, and efforts made to ensure they would not fight back.

While in the van, the families had all of their bank cards taken with pin numbers along with their jewelry. The kidnappers then determined if there was any possibility of drumming up a ransom for their American captives. It did not take long for the kidnappers to determine that both families did not have the means to come up with enough money to make a longer term kidnapping worthwhile.

As we talked to both families, we learned that their long-term mental health needs were not met by either their insurance company or the mission organization that sent them. Sadly, we also learned that a missionary organization told one of the couples not to talk about their experience and further accused the missionary couple of doing something wrong to short circuit their heavenly protection. The last statement makes me cringe. As Christians, our duty to care for each other is never negated.

Perhaps the key take-away from these stories is that both kidnappings could have been prevented had the families had a basic level of anti-kidnapping and hostage survival training. In both kidnappings, those involved felt and recognized danger and could have taken measures to prevent the kidnappings from happening in the first place. In both situations, the families continued to make poor personal security choices before, during, and after the events. The missionary couple told us the same thing that many missionaries tell us today. Missionaries themselves do not receive suitable anti-kidnapping and situational awareness training for their service before traveling overseas. The other family also opined that they did not even consider taking any security awareness or anti-kidnapping training before traveling. Two nearly identical kidnappings over 32 years and we continue to support the kidnapper’s business model. Perhaps someday, we will adapt and make it harder for the intrepid kidnappers to make money off of us. If you are interested in becoming a harder target look for announcements about our next Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival courses.

Across All Lines

For two weeks, we have been blessed by a unique opportunity. We have been training a multi-faith group of women in how to protect themselves in all situations. In the room, there are Jewish women, Christian women, and Islamic women. They have an amazing relationship with each other. Each person present is a devout adherent to her own faith. They dress the part, talk the part, and even their dietary choices are pre-selected according to what their Scriptures will allow them to have, yet all of these women are friends. They are happy and confident. There has been a lot of laughter and a lot of fun. They have been courageous as they step up and try every skill being taught. They have repeatedly asked us to ratchet up the intensity for them so they can prove to themselves that these techniques work, even when they are at a clear disadvantage.  It has been awe inspiring and humbling to work with this amazing group formed out of amazing sub-groups. As a result, we have been asked to come back and run the course again. One of the local churches is interested in further training. The mosque wants to run a course there for all the women who wanted to attend but couldn’t because of schedule conflicts.

It is almost beyond my ability to describe what it feels like to be a guest in such a harmonious place. If there was ever a perfect group of students or a perfect setting in which to teach, this has been it.  We have been getting comments every night that the husbands of these women want to attend. They want to learn what their wives are learning. They are happy that their wives are being empowered and the enthusiasm of this group of women has been infectious. Everyone is talking about it. People who could not sign up are asking for a chance to train. All in all, it has been a smashing success. To that end, we are actually looking into offering ongoing training on a weekly basis. We are also looking into offering coed classes. We are excited by this unforeseen opportunity to serve the people of our local community as continue to serve our worldwide community.

KRET: Kidnap, Ransom, Extortion, Terrorism

KRET risks are some of the biggest risks for businesses operating at home or abroad. Unfortunately these risks happen in both the physical domain and the cyber domain. The same actors who run the physical networks often handle the cyber networks. While a cyber kidnaping for ransom may not take away your physical freedom, it could quickly drain your life savings, destroy your reputation, and even take destroy your business providing the criminal with the same outcome. Cyber kidnap for ransoms are closely associated with cyber extortion attempts and are equally effective in providing the criminal with the desired outcome. We can say the same thing of cyber terrorism. It is important to train for and be prepared for the cyber equivalent of physical attacks because they could adversely affect your life, your reputation, and your business.

Our blog was recently attacked by malicious actors demanding that we pay a large ransom or they would use our brand and email address to discredit and destroy our company. These actors, true to their word, lashed out at us when we did not give in to their demands. I would like to personally apologize to anyone who received a phishing email from our email address. We are currently in the process of reporting the incidents and enhancing our security posture to prevent future attacks. Cyber kidnapping or extortion events can take away a small company’s momentum and rob them of their meager assets if we allow it.

We teach multiple strategies for surviving a kidnapping attempt in our anti kidnapping and hostage survival courses. These same strategies apply to cyber attempts. At the end of the day, it is important to remember who you really are, keep yourself grounded, and resist the kidnappers’ efforts to manipulate and control you. A victim gives in, a person becomes a survivor once they realize that they have choices, and is a conqueror if they knew they had choices and acted on them from the start. KRET threats are real and must be prepared for so keep training and improving daily.

Kidnapping statistics and what they do not show

I have spent the day sifting through all of the available statistics on global kidnapping and am amazed by what these statistics do not show. While I think the available statistics are important, we should be asking ourselves some questions.

The first bias in the available reporting is that global kidnapping is underreported. Many kidnapping victims never report the incident after a ransom is paid out of fear of being prosecuted, or fear that their former captors will come after the victim or their family. To say that there have been approximately 1300 Westerners from 32 countries kidnapped since September 11th, 2001 is an extremely low and conservative estimate.

The second bias is that some groups do not report their incidents unless they make the news. Sadly this tendency mostly includes some missionary organizations and humanitarian organizations. While it is easy to understand why these groups would keep these numbers close-hold, it does not help those trying to counter the problem. My research indicates that had these incidents been reported, the estimated 1300 incidents would be closer to 3000. These numbers do not include abductions linked to human trafficking, which would make the numbers much higher.

The third bias is that the focus of many of these studies is purely Kidnap for Ransom and the associated Kidnap for Ransom business model. Many of the most well-known cases turned out to be kidnapping for ideological reasons or other terrorism-linked cases. It is easy to forget that kidnappings happen for a variety of reasons which include ransom, media attention, political motivations, revenge, leverage, black mail, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, mental illness, and a long list of others.

There are other biases as well but it seems that one question never gets asked. How many of the victims in the reported statistics attended any kind of anti-kidnapping, travel security, or anti-terrorism training before traveling? Sadly our research indicates that most of these victims did not, and in many cases traveled to hot spots without it.

I have to ask why on earth someone would read through a ten minute security brief and think that was enough. Why would a business or an organization send travelers to Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, or any other high risk location without putting their people through a multi-day anti-kidnapping course?

We were recently approached by a business who sends travelers all over the world and were asked if we could create a five to ten minute training video for their travelers. The business wanted to make sure they were compliant and checked all of the blocks required for their business insurance. Our question to them was simple, is that what your employees lives are worth? A five to ten minute check-the-block video or training brief would become a company’s worst nightmare if something happened to one of their travelers. I am sure the potential duty-to-care law suit would be far more damaging than the multimillion dollar ransom payment. Checking the block legally indicates that they were aware of the problem, yet chose to give only the bare minimum security training. This is a prosecution attorney’s dream case.

If we were to exclude government and military travelers, how many corporate travelers are trained in basic travel security measures that would prevent most kidnappings? How many missionaries, aid workers, journalists, and world travelers have even thought about prevention training? Perhaps this is a study that should be done. A three to five day block of corporate anti-kidnapping training could save a corporation millions and help stop the growing business of kidnapping. A three to five day block of anti-kidnapping training for all missionaries or humanitarian workers heading to a high risk area could be the factor that keeps the ministry or NGO afloat and keeps them from going bankrupt. I will admit that anti-kidnapping training is not the total panacea for preventing all incidents but I would argue it is a start and probably far better for any organization than a ten minute check-the-block video.

Turning a Nonprofit

Who ever heard of such a thing? It’s supposed to be turning a profit, isn’t it? Well, not in our case. We started out with one mind and one heart and one passion… freedom. Freedom isn’t only for those who can pay.  In fact, there are many commercial services available to those who can afford them. What about those who cannot? That is where we come in. Since its inception, Captive Audience has been bringing anti-captivity training to people of every social stratum, offering scholarships to those who need it can not pay for it. We have also been working with and for the families and governments of current hostages on a pro bono basis, simply because we want to set captives free. As a for-profit company, we have been quite limited in how we can help. We could not fundraise or accept tax free donations or apply for the grants that would help us help more people. We were restricted to self-funding 100% of our operations and we never felt like that was enough. Thus, we would like to announce that we are in the process of forming Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team, Inc. This is currently a nonprofit shell with a board of directors. We are making our way through the wickets as we apply to the IRS for 501(c)3 status. Once that is done, we will begin raising money in earnest to change the world.

Human captivity is a huge problem and it grows worse every day. There is so much profit to be made in buying and selling slaves, organs, children, and kidnapped-for-ransom hostages. We are trying to stop this vile trade. We want to bring training to people who are already free so that they may stay free. We are working to recover captive people by many different means and methodologies. We are bringing everything we have to the fight to disassemble criminal networks and prosecute individuals. All of this takes far more support than we can generate on our own. However, with the power of an NGO, with cooperative relationships between similar organizations, and with volunteers and donations, we can do this. Would you like to be involved?