WEST POINT, N.Y., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Americans kidnapped by jihadist groups are executed at a rate nearly four times higher than other Western hostages, West Point terrorism experts said.
A new report, issued by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, found the United States was among six countries that account for about 60 percent of Westerners killed since 2001 by jihadist groups worldwide. Conversely, U.S. hostages are the least likely to be released from captivity, possibly due to the country's no-negotiation policy.
The report found the Islamic State and al-Shabab are more likely to execute Western hostages over other groups that include Boko Haram and Jabhat al-Nusra, which have not executed a Western hostage to date. Most of those kidnapped are journalists and those in non-government organizations such as foreign aid workers.
"While nationality appears to be important in determining the fate of individuals once kidnapped, it does not appear to influence who gets kidnapped," the center found. "Although kidnappings are often thought of as preplanned events against specific individuals, they often seem to occur opportunistically against individuals who are in the wrong place at the wrong time"
The research, conducted by Seth Loertscher and Daniel Milton, looked at nearly 1,500 cases worldwide using data from the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database, think tanks and the private sector.
Researchers found from 1970 to 2013 there was a global spike in kidnappings, with jihadist groups primarily responsible for the increases from 2001 to 2015.
"According to our data, most Western citizens are kidnapped in the Middle East and Africa, 38 percent and 37 percent respectively," the report found. "These two regions rank the highest for the three largest group types: jihadists, other militant groups, and unknown groups. Jihadist kidnappings represent the plurality of incidents in the Middle East (40 percent)."