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Sunday, 1 November 2015


On route to a rhetoric course, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held ransom for 120,000 gold pieces. He spent 40 days with the pirates before the ransom was paid. Once he was freed, Caesar raised a fleet, pursued and captured the pirates, and then crucified them, as he had told them he would while in captivity - a promise the pirates had taken as a joke.

The Phrase "best man" is of Scottish origin and recalls the days when a bridegroom simply kidnapped the woman he wanted as a bride. To help him in that task the groom enlisted some friends. The toughest and bravest of these groomsmen was the best man.

"Picture bride kidnapping" (in Central Asia circa 1870) by Illus. Wikipedia Commons.

In 1302 Pope Boniface VIII asserted papal authority over all temporal rulers in his bull Unam Sanctam. King Philip IV of France responded to the papal bull by being behind the kidnapping of the pope by some Italian noblemen. Boniface was soon released but so roughly was he treated that he died shortly afterwards.

In 1795, nearly one sixth of the entire U.S. federal budget was sent to Algeria as a ransom for 115 American sailors captured by pirates.

In 1971, the co-owner of Aldi Theo Albrecht, was kidnapped and released for a ransom of $4 million that he himself negotiated. He later won tax relief on the ransom payment claiming it was a business expense.

Sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty, the grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, was kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973. After two ransom notes were ignored an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear was delivered to a daily newspaper with a threat of further mutilation of Paul, unless $3.2 million was paid.

At this point Getty Sr. agreed to pay up and got his grandson back for about $2.9 million. Getty III was found alive in a filling station of Lauria, in the province of Potenza, on December 15, 1973, shortly after the payment of the ransom.

The largest mass kidnapping in US history took place in 1976 when a school bus driver and 26 children were abducted as part of a failed ransom plot. They were buried alive in the back of a moving van. The driver, with help from some of the older kids, managed to open a trapdoor and free everyone inside.

In 1978, Pope Paul VI offered his life as an exchange for the release of kidnapped Italian Prime minister Aldo Moro.

The great race horse Shergar was kidnapped from Ballymany Stud, near the Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland by masked gunmen on February 8, 1983. No trace of him has ever been found. The incident has been the inspiration for several books, documentaries, and a film.

During the filming of the sci-fi horror Mimic in 1997 the actor Guillermo del Toro learned that his father, Federico del Toro, had been kidnapped off the streets of his Mexican hometown, Guadalajara. The director James Cameron became aware of this and paid the $1 million ransom, even recommending a negotiator.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il kidnapped a well-respected movie director and forced him to make a North Korean Godzilla knock-off called Pulgasari.

Every car made after 2002 has an "Emergency Release" cable inside the trunk in case of kidnapping.

Ransom payments to kidnappers are tax-deductible in America.

In some areas of Kyrgyzstan, 75% of brides are kidnapped by their husbands.

Source The Book of Answers by Barbara Berliner

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