(By Deutsche Welle) Under pressure from relatives of slain Americans, the US has permitted families to pay hostage ransoms. But experts say that as long as European governments pay large ransoms, the kidnapping epidemic will continue.
Could James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Warren Weinstein, Abdul-Rahman Kassig and Kayla Mueller have been saved?
The United States has long maintained a policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Sort of. In the case of Weinstein, the FBI advised his family on how to make a ransom payment of $250,000 to his al Qaeda-affiliated captors, according to The New York Times.
“Helping with a ransom…is not tantamount to paying a ransom,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at the time.
The American contractor was ultimately killed by a US airstrike targeting militants on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. An Italian aid worker was also inadvertently killed.
The Foley family, on the other hand, claims they were threatened with prosecution by the State Department if they tried to pay a ransom for their son’s release.
Though the United States staged a military operation to rescue Foley, the 40-year-old freelance journalist wasn’t at the location of the raid. Weeks later, he was beheaded by the Islamic State in a gruesome video, the first of many.
“The families don’t feel supported; they don’t feel like they’re given the information they need, and that’s clearly become a political issue for the Obama administration,” Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told DW.