Mishkat Al Moumin | October 10th, 2011 | Featured, True Stories About Security | 378 Comments »
A friend of mine emailed me asking whether or not it would be safe to travel to Baghdad. She has received a wonderful opportunity to do business in Iraq. However, she has legitimate concerns about being in an unsafe environment.
I have to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of such a trip and present them to my friend. I did not want her to lose a business opportunity. However, also I don’t want to encourage her to go on a dangerous trip.
My friend is a woman, and women are sought after, because they are soft and easy target. It does not matter what a woman would looks like, whether she is Western or Middle Eastern, whether she wears the hijab (head scarf) or not, what type of business she is doing, or what statements she might make in the media. What matters is that she is a woman. Any woman is considered as a soft target. But why women are soft targets?
The insurgency groups are looking for two things: media exposure and financial resources. The media is fascinated by women’s stories, let alone a kidnapped woman. More exposure simply means more money either by asking for higher ransom, or by seeking funds through countries that support these illegal activities.
Kidnapping a woman is relatively easier than kidnapping a man. Usually, a woman does not know how to defend herself. She is unarmed and she does not carry a weapon. Oftentimes, she does not hire enough body guards. Thus, attacking a woman with one or two people accompanying her is relatively easier than attacking a man (most likely armed) with four to six people guarding him.
As such, insurgency groups look for women to kidnap or attack. These groups tend to penetrate strategic places such as airports and border checkpoints. They collect information and intelligence about each victim to determine the ransom. Moreover, they know how to keep a low profile, which makes it difficult for the authorities to identify them.
Additionally, the green zone, the relatively well-protected area where my friend intends to stay, may not be the best option. Exits and entrances are monitored on a daily basis in an attempt to identify victims to kidnap.
Looking at these variables, I suggested to my friend that it is safer to postpone her trip to Baghdad to a later time.