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Criminal Resource Manual

1102. Hostage Taking—Gravamen of the Offense

This section prohibits (1) the seizing or detaining of an individual, (2) coupled with a threat to kill, injure, or continue to detain that individual (3) in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the detained individual. See United States v. Carrion-Caliz, 944 F.2d 220, 223 (5th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 965 (1992). The seizure or detention contemplated by the statute includes both physical restraint -- confinement against the victim's will -- as well as non-physical restraint, such as the victim's detention through fear or deception. Id. at 225.

It is clearly the intent of the Congress that the statutory phrase, "third person or a governmental organization" include everything covered by the term "third party" used in the Hostage Taking Convention. The term "government organization" covers national, State, and local governments as well as international governmental organizations. See 18 U.S.C. §  831(f)(2). The term "person" covers "corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals." See 1 U.S.C. § 1.

[cited in USAM 9-60.700]