PROOF OF LIFE
About The Story
With the ending of the Cold War and corporations expanding into foreign markets, kidnapping has become a big international business. Rebel groups who no longer can rely on financial help from the former Communist countries must fund their causes using other means. They're discovering that kidnapping and demanding huge ransoms can not only cover their costs but also finance the expansion of their power base.
In response to this 'demand,' companies have been securing 'K&R' insurance for their executives in the unfortunate event of a kidnapping. According to a survey by the London-based security-risk consulting firm, Control Risk, that covers abductions around the world, Columbia is the most notorious country for kidnappings, followed by Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, Pakistan, United States, Guatemala, Russia, Venezuela and India. In the April 2000 issue of Treasury &
Risk Management, security experts warned that extortionists have become so professional that kidnapping of executives should be viewed as a likely scenario of doing business in today's world.
The people who work for these 'K&R' security companies are usually former FBI, Interpol, CIA and SAS officers. Why? Because the people they're negotiating against are not
lawyers.. .they're battle trained guerillas holding Kalishnikov machine guns. These security specialists monitor on a daily basis the security climate in countries around the world, updating insurers and insureds about vulnerable areas and local security arrangements to prevent abductions. When a kidnapping occurs, they're ready at a moment's notice to travel anywhere in the world to negotiate ransoms as well as comfort the victims' families as they go through the long ordeal.
Taylor Hackford contemplates, "This business has come about with the evolution of the world economy and I think this movie is a fascinating opportunity for the audience to discover it for the first time."
"One of the things that I like to do are 'hidden world stories. So, when I was at a Christmas party and met this
'K&R' man who told me all these exotic tales about an industry that I had no idea existed,
I felt I had uncovered one of the most fascinating topics around," reveals journalist, William Prochnau. who wrote the Vanity Fair article Adventures in the Ransom Trade. The Vanity Fair article Adventures In The Ransom Trade by William Prochnau and the book Long March to Freedom: Tom Hargrove 's Own Story of His Kidnapping by Colombian Narco-Guerrillas by Thomas Hargrove inspired the motion picture, "Proof Of Life."
"When I took the story to Vanity Fair, they fell in love with it immediately and told me to go wherever I needed in order to write it," he continues.
He further explains, "The first six months were spent just trying to negotiate my way as a writer into this group of people, mostly ex-CIA and ex-British SAS—people who are very used to secrecy and very unused to reporters. They reluctantly let me in because I think they wanted their story told."
"I was looking very badly for a kidnapping negotiation to go out on or something like that, but it was just too secretive and touchy for that. However, when I spoke to Susan Hargrove, the wife of Tom Hargrove who was kidnapped in 1994 outside of Call, Columbia, she unloaded the family end of the story. The extraordinary psychological pressures she and her family faced were so compelling that I became interested in that aspect of the kidnap experience and included it in my story," Prochnau offers.
Titled Adventures in the Ransom Trade, Prochnau's final article appeared in the May 1998 issue of Vanity Fair. After a year of intense research,
traveling between Europe and South
America, he exposed a new business to interested readers that has resulted from
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