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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06LAGOS741 2006-06-02 07:46:00 SECRET//NOFORN Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

IF ANOTHER HOSTAGE CRISIS COMES - FEST COMPOSITION

Tags:   PREL CASC EPET PGOV NI HOSTAGES 
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1. (U) This cable is an action request. See paragraphs 7
through 11.



2. (U) NOTE: This cable was drafted prior to the
hostage-taking of 0330 hrs on 2 June 2006.



3. (C) Given the roiled conditions of the Niger Delta,
another hostage situation is possible within the next few
months. While President Obasanjo has launched a Delta
stakeholders committee to consider the region's grievances,
this activity may not be enough to stem the probability of a
new round of militant activity against oil production.



--------------------------


A (MUCH-NEEDED) RADICAL DEPARTURE
UNLIKELY FOR THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT


--------------------------





4. (C) To prevent another round of militant activity, the
GON would have to take tangible action to ameliorate
conditions in the Delta. The federal government historically
has shown neither the political will nor administrative skill
to implement these tasks. While Rivers State has launched a
new development program with international oversight, and the
Delta region states are making noises about increased
accountability, they broadly lack the technical competency to
administer large-scale development projects well. In short,
neither the federal nor state governments are in a good
position to move quickly enough to forestall additional
militant action.



--------------------------

-
CONDITIONS IN THE OIL PATCH HAVE NOT CHANGED;
WORKERS STILL EXPOSED TO KIDNAPPING


--------------------------

-



5. (C) Meanwhile, thousands of oil workers, including
Amcits, work in the Delta and are vulnerable to the threat of
kidnapping. Oil service company workers are in the field
more than major oil companies' direct hires, and are
particularly vulnerable. Workers such as pipelayers and
construction crews may work on the same site for months on
end, their presence well-known to the local communities.
Worldwide service contracts between the oil majors and their
contractors often push oil service workers into the field
unless under imminent threat. While the Nigerian oil
industry operates now with extra caution, many workers remain
fundamentally as exposed to the risk of kidnapping as before
the two hostage-takings.



--------------------------


MISSION SUPPORTS RE-DEPLOYMENT OF FEST
IN THE EVENT OF ANOTHER KIDNAPPING


--------------------------





6. (C/NF) We greatly appreciated the assistance the Foreign
Emergency Support Team (FEST) brought to bear in the
successful resolution to the most recent hostage crisis.



--------------------------


SUGGESTED COMPOSITION OF THE FEST


--------------------------





7. (C/NF) Action Request: In the event of future
kidnappings, Mission requests deployment of a FEST as
configured below.



8. (C/NF) The February FEST's composition was appropriate.
With two seasoned crisis negotiators in the lead, the FEST
appropriately reflected friendly diplomatic relations between
the GON and the USG, and deflected any suspicion that the
team's intent was other than a supportive, non-military
augmentation of Mission's personnel to manage a prolonged
crisis. We would request the same leadership structure in
the future, as this allowed the team leader to work policy
matters in Abuja, and the team deputy to be present in Lagos
or in the affected state capital, monitoring what was
happening on the ground, including the hostage negotiations.



9. (C/NF) The FEST, including FBI hostage negotiators,
worked skillfully to broker a March meeting between GON
federal negotiators and militant representatives. The
meeting ultimately established the credibility of GON
no-retaliation promises, and led to the hostages' release.
The FBI negotiators' guidance in crafting public Mission
statements and our interaction with the press was another key
which unlocked the hostages' release. The FBI negotiators
established credibility with the oil and oil service
companies involved, encouraging them and the hostages'
families to focus on positive actions supportive of the
hostages' welfare and ultimate release. During a potential
future hostage crisis Mission believes the Department of
Justice contingent might be reduced to one negotiator and one
forensics expert, especially if Justice can dedicate some
personnel wo will remain in the States but provide
much-needed support to the agents who would travel to Nigeria.



10. (C/NF) The EUCOM analytical contingent proved
invaluable in creating timelines, link diagrams, and analysis
essential to our understanding of a complex series of events.
Their analysis assisted our development of an appropriate
and swift response. In the future, we would request EUCOM
provide the same level of analyst support.



11. (S/NF) Mission can provide most of the communications
support and equipment to the FEST team as needed. This will
reduce the team requirement to whatever specialized
communications gear they might need and that might not
normally be found at post. Future teams should also travel
without weapons. Requests for FEST to enter Nigeria with
weapons risk misinterpretation of their advisory mission by
the Nigerians and could significantly delay their arrival
just when time may be of the essence.
BROWNE