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Criminal Resource Manual

11. Hostage Taking (18 U.S.C. 1203)

In 1984, Congress enacted the hostage taking statute to implement the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages. The statute became effective on January 6, 1985. Hostage taking is defined as the seizing or detention of an individual coupled with a threat to kill, injure or continue to detain such individual in order to compel a third person or governmental organization to take some action. The United States has jurisdiction over the taking of hostages outside the United States (a) if the perpetrator or a hostage is a United States national, (b) if the perpetrator is found in the United States regardless of his nationality, or (c) if the United States is the Government coerced by the hostage taker. See USAM 9-60.700, et seq.