SHAKIRA'S SECRET KIDNAP FEAR

Published on: December 5, 2002

Sexy Latina singer Shakira is taking the world by storm with smash-hit CDs and a sold-out concert tour, but she's tormented by a secret fear -- kidnappers!

The 25-year-old Grammy-winning Colombian is so terrified of being abducted in her native country -- where kidnapping is practically a cottage industry -- that she's afraid to go home.

"Shakira can't live in her beloved Colombia -- she and her family are the victims of her worldwide success," a source close to the star revealed.

"When she made enough money, Shakira and most of her immediate family moved to the United States and she bought a $3.4 million mansion in Miami Beach."

Colombia has been ravaged by civil war for decades, and kidnappings of wealthy citizens are an everyday occurrence.

"Poor Shakira is terrorized by the thought of being caught, held prisoner and tortured by guerrillas," said an insider.

"She travels to Colombia only when it is work-related -- never for enjoyment.

"Home-country girl Shakira would be the ultimate prize for greedy abductors. She'd be worth millions of dollars.

"As a result, when Shakira does go to her home country, she travels with an enormous security team. She never vacations in her hometown of Barranquilla, and leaves the instant her work is done.

"And she's constantly looking over her shoulder."

Shakira's fear of being abducted and held for ransom heightened recently when the sisters of fellow Latin singer Thalia were kidnapped in Mexico City. The abductors released them only after Thalia and her husband, Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola, paid a huge ransom.

To make matters even worse, Shakira is not welcome in Argentina because her fiance, Antonio de la Rua, is the son of the reviled ex-president of the country, who's blamed for the current economic crisis in Argentina.

"They don't even sell Shakira albums or videos at Tower Records stores in Argentina, where she used to be the most popular singing star!" the insider declared.

The close source added: "Even though Shakira feels relatively safe in Miami, she isn't taking any chances. She has 24-hour-a-day security to ensure that Colombian kidnappers don't spirit her out of the country!"