A powerful and sophisticated underground business delivers thousands of refugees a day all along the Mediterranean coasts of Europe. The new breed of criminals that controls it has risen out of the political chaos of post-9/11 Western foreign policy and the fiasco of the Arab Spring. These merchants of men are intertwined with armed jihadist organizations such as al Qaeda in the Maghreb. They have prospered smuggling cocaine from West Africa and kidnapping Westerners. More recently, the destabiliza – tion of Syria and Iraq coupled with the rise of ISIS offered them new business opportuni – ties in the Middle East, from selling Western hostages to jihadist groups to trafficking in refugees numbering in the millions. Overall, the kidnapping industry today is bigger than the illegal drug trade and worth billions of dollars annually. Merchants of Men is based on exclusive access to hostage ne – gotiators actively involved in ransom negotia – tions and rescue missions, counter-terrorism experts, members of security services, and former hostages, among many others. The reader will discover that the protocols of pre – vention and rescue change according to the type of abduction and the designated targets, and will come to know firsthand the range of experiences of kidnapping victims. Today’s fast-aging European nations are buyers on the refugee market. New work – ers are needed, and the merchants of men are supplying them. But only skilled, highly educated refugees are wanted. As a tsunami of migrants and refugees floods Europe, new questions almost too numerous to count must be answered.
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