Europe’s Chickens Come Home To Roost

by Faba Calculo   7/29/14


France: $58.1 million.
Qatar and Oman: $20.4 million.
Switzerland: $12.4 million.
Spain: $11 million.
Austria: $3.2 million.
TOTAL (including countries not itemized above): $125 million to $165 million.

That’s how much money the New York Times today revealed that these and other countries have, their vociferous denials notwithstanding, paid Al Qaeda in ransom since 2008. (See: Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror).

Not to hear them tell it, of course. In these countries it’s called “foreign aid” or the money is laundered via state-controlled companies. However, as numerous government officials, both current and former, have made clear, the payments are ransom for kidnapped citizens, pure and simple.

So far, the US and the UK have appeared to retain enough backbone to not participate in actual ransom payments (though, as the story points out, not enough to avoid the prisoner exchange made for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl).

It seems to have started around 2003 when an almost comically ill-prepared band of terrorist wannabes managed to kidnap four Swedes in southern Algeria. Despite their clumsiness in terms of preparation (no food or extra gasoline brought along) or initially unrealistic demands (i.e., overthrow of Algerian government), they eventually obtained a total of 32 hostages for which the German government paid them 5 million euros, and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb was born.

The deal was transformational. Soon Al Qaeda put out an actual manual on how to kidnap and ransom western (and even some Arab) tourists. Today it’s believed that Al Qaeda funds the majority of its arms purchases, recruitment, and training via these ransom payments.

As previously mentioned, the US and the UK have spearheaded the diplomatic efforts against these practices, with two predictable results, one bad and the other utterly predictable. Bad news first: those US and UK prisoners who are captured are generally killed upon being caught or soon thereafter. And the one that any fool should have seen coming? The countries that do pay ransoms are now the ones being almost exclusively targeted for future kidnappings.

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2 Responses to Europe’s Chickens Come Home To Roost

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    There are suspicions that the Bergdahl deal included a lot of money for the Haqqani Network (which actually held him prisoner, and had no interest in exchanging him for prisoners — particularly those from the Taliban). It seems clear that the idea of a monetary ransom was considered. And giving up 5 top leaders may have been an even greater concession.

    Incidentally, for all our disagreements, it’s nice to see you back.

    • faba calculo says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      But, drag to here that the US may not be so “above it all” as the article made it sound.

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