NYT – This article sheds a lot of light on this expanding industry -
Sometimes, kidnappings are used to solve tribal and commercial disputes — “a business negotiation tactic,” Mr. Rye said. But most are for profit, Iraqi and American officials say, and are resolved by ransom payments that average $30,000 — a hefty sum in a country where per capita annual income is only $1,050.
As the kidnap industry has matured, investigators have seen cooperation evolve between criminal groups, and between them and the insurgency. Victims are sometimes sold and resold, gaining value each time, investigators say.
At the same time, divisions of labor have also developed in the largest and most organized groups, with members specializing in duties like surveillance, abduction, transportation, guarding and negotiations.
…almost all kidnapping cases in Iraq are resolved without the involvement, or even knowledge, of government authorities.