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Paying for the Hostage

Documentary. Thirty years since being kidnapped, John McCarthy looks at how the techniques used for dealing with a hostage crisis have changed.

John McCarthy looks at how the techniques used for dealing with a hostage crisis have changed over time.

John was taken hostage in April 1986. Thirty years of his life have passed since that defining moment. He has spent a long time trying to understand both the political motivation for his kidnap and the terms of his release.

Where do the activities of the Hezbollah fighters who took him fit into the history of hostage taking for political ends? Why did the group think that hostage taking the right political move at that time? What methods did the UN use to negotiate a successful release for him and his fellow captives? Would different negotiation techniques be used today? Why was he not rescued earlier by a military force?

John sets out to understand the development of politically motivated hostage taking, and the impact that responses of world powers have had on the activities of the kidnappers. From the hijack of the airliners landed at Dawson's field in 1970, through the impact of the Munich Olympics, the Grand Mosque Seizure and the activities of John's captors in Lebanon, to the publically violent activities of so-called Islamic State today - how has the motivation and response to hostage taking changed and developed?

Negotiate or not? Military response or peaceful resolution? To pay or not to pay?

The programme includes interviews with those involved in hostage taking, analysis from some of the World's leading experts in negotiation, the experience of victims of kidnap and their families, and the views of key academics.

Presenter: John McCarthy
Producer: Kevin Dawson
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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38 minutes

Last on

Sun 18 Dec 2016 17:00