Episode 137: Mark Thundercloud – Negotiating Philippine Kidnapping, Captain Phillips

Retired agent Mark Thundercloud served in the FBI for nearly 28 years. Early in his career, he was trained as a crisis negotiator and was eventually promoted to the FBI Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), in the Crisis Negotiation Unit. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Mark Thundercloud reviews  the Philippine kidnapping case of an American mother and son, Gerfa and Kevin Lunsmann, kidnapped by terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf while visiting relatives in the Philippines. Thundercloud also talks about his role in the rescue of the Maersk Alabama commercial vessel’s Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. During his career, Mark Thundercloud responded to major crisis incidents around the world and managed the FBI Crisis Negotiator Program and the approximately 375 Special Agent negotiators throughout the U.S.  He also organized many instructional courses and trained hostage/crisis negotiation and suicide intervention to thousands of FBI Agents, domestic and foreign police officers, military, and other personnel throughout the U.S. and the world. Mark Thundercloud personally responded to major incidents in the United States such as the Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho, the Freemen incident in Montana, the Boston Marathon Bombings, and to the Standing Rock, North Dakota oil pipeline conflict. He has also deployed with the FBI Hostage Rescue Team to numerous other arrest and search warrant events. To assist in negotiations of kidnapped Americans and others, Thundercloud deployed to the countries of Afghanistan, Colombia, England, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Qatar, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as inside the United States. In 2011, Mr. Thundercloud received the FBI Director’s Meritorious Achievement Award for negotiations conducted during a piracy-related hijacking of the near the coast of Somalia.

Supervisory Special Agent (Retired)

Mark Thundercloud

11/2/1987 – 6/26/2015







“Statistically, the two most dangerous times for hostages are at the initial hostage-taking and at any potential rescue. Because it’s chaos.”


The following links are for articles about the Philippine kidnapping of Gerfa and Kevin Lunsmann by terrorists and the rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali pirates:

FBI Website – 12/4/2014:  Four Men Indicted on Charges in 2011 Kidnapping of Mother and Teenage Son in the Philippines

LYNCHBURG (WSLS NBC10) – 1/19/2017:  Kidnapped in the Philippines – Part 1

LYNCHBURG (WSLS NBC10) – 1/19/2017:  Kidnapped in the Philippines – Part 2

New York Times – 4/12/2009:  The Rescue of Captain, Navy Kills 3 Pirates

CNN – 12/12/2011:  Kidnapped 14-year-old Filipino-American is free

NBC Dateline (Video):  Kidnapped

Gerfa and Kevin Lunsmann on NBC Dateline (Video):  Kidnapped









Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


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