Thursday, August 21, 2014

Killed By Negotiation?

 The killing of reporters violates what many of us would call an unwritten social contract whereby journalists deserve protection because they’re witnesses to history not representatives of any particular government.  But terrorists, as serial killers, invariably reject social norms in the pursuit of their irrational goals.

Making the situation worse is that major media organizations have closed foreign bureaus and are now reliant on freelancers as cheap alternatives. Without the backing of major media organizations, these freelancers tend to be at even more risk — especially if they and their families happen to live in the country where the conflict is taking place.

But by far the biggest contributor to the problem are European governments, who typically negotiate with and/or pay ransoms to terrorist organizations.  Kidnapping as a fundraising tactic is thriving and rates are going up.  In 2003, a ransom of roughly $200,000 was paid for each captive, according to the New York Times.  Last month, a NYT investigation found that al-Qaeda and its direct affiliates had received at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008—primarily from European governments. In the last year alone, they received $66 million.

Hostage-taking by extremist groups is now so pervasive that at least one major aid organization is not sending U.S. aid workers to areas where they might be abducted. Instead, the group is sending citizens from European countries with governments that will pay ransoms.

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