In 2009, an elderly retired teacher from Germany, a Swiss couple and a British citizen named Edward Dyer were kidnapped while driving down a desert highway after taking part in an annual concert of Tuareg music on the Mali-Niger border. They eventually ended up in the hands of Islamist militants belonging to the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM. The German and Swiss hostages were released after several months when their governments paid ransom. But the British hostage was shot and then beheaded. The UK government bans paying ransom to abductors. This story reconstructs the abduction and its aftermath and shows how whether a hostage lives or dies depends on his or her government's willingness to negotiate and pay ransom.