Sunday, March 04, 2012

NCTC missing 2010 Kidnapping

One of my ongoing projects is trying to find as much information as possible for the status table of Americans Missing in Iraq.

Every so often, I have to check in with the annual Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism. The National Counterterrorism Center typically provides statistical data for the annual reports beginning more or less with 2005. The data for 2008 is (sort of) missing and the link for 2004 is bad. Still, it's a good starting place, for comparing reported kidnappings between the Country Reports and the leaked SIGACT reports.
U.S. Department of State
Country Reports on Terrorism
The most recent Country Reports on Terrorism for 2010 from the Department of State were issued on August 18, 2011.
Terrorism Deaths, Injuries, Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens, 2010
Country Reports on Terrorism 2010
US Department of State
August 18, 2011
The report shows no known kidnappings in 2010 - which is surprising because an Iraqi American contractor, Issa T. Salomi, of El Cajon, California was kidnapped by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian backed insurgent group in Baghdad on January 23, 2010. Salomi was released in exchange for four militants in Iraqi detention on March 25, 2010.

Salomi was reported to be an 'Army civilian employee' by the Department of Defense. In theory, that should make him eligible for inclusion in the data, unless Asaib Ahl al-Haq is not classified as a Terrorist organization. Which I would have thought they were given that they kidnap people and then make political demands. I must be missing something here.

That's not the only oddity in all of this - in an article about Salomi's kidnapping, Officials confirm kidnapping of U.S. contractor in Iraq, authors Ernesto Londoño and Leila Fadel wrote:
The abduction of contractor Issa T. Salomi, 60, of El Cajon, Calif., marks the first reported kidnapping of an American in Iraq since the summer of 2008. [emphasis mine]
But as of yet, I have not found one single reported kidnapping of an American in Iraq in 2008, anywhere.

Country Reports on Terrorism for 2008 is missing the data page for Terrorism Deaths, Injuries, Kidnappings of Private US Citizens. A pie chart in the 2008 Report on Terrorism at the National Counterterrorism Center shows only 4 kidnappings for that year - 3 in Afghanistan and 1 in Panama.

I like my data neat, clean, and tidy. And here I have 2 years of Kidnapping Reports from the National Counterterrorism Center that both fail and 1 more a little suspect.

It's little details like this that make me worry I've stumbled on some sort of Cuckoo's Egg. If you don't know the story, it's the discovery of a real life hacker who was selling nuclear secrets to the KGB. He was eventually caught, and all because of a 75 cent accounting error.

Tidy data does matter.

By Leila Fadel, Washington Post, March 28, 2010

Officials confirm kidnapping of U.S. contractor in Iraq
By Ernesto Londoño and Leila Fadel, Washington Post, February 6, 2010

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