Tags: Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | ransom | ISIS | hostage | policy | James Foley

Hostage Policy Shift Too Late for James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Others

Image: Hostage Policy Shift Too Late for James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Others
Journalists James Foley, left, and Steven Sotloff. (Reuters/Louafi Larbi; Reuters/site intel Group/ReutersTV)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 11:20 AM

President Barack Obama's shift in policy to allow families to pay a ransom to have their family members freed didn't come in time to help those already killed by the Islamic State (ISIS).

If this policy had been in place previously, it could have made a difference in the outcome of ISIS hostages who were slain by the terrorist group, the International Business Times is reporting.

The families of ISIS captives, such as James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, were previously told that if they tried to pay for their sons' ransoms, that they would face prosecution.

Those families have since begged the president to consider a change to the "no concessions" policy during meetings he had with them.

"I was surprised there was so little compassion," Diane Foley told ABC News in September 2014 about the warnings her family received about paying a ransom.

"It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted … I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place.

"We were told we could do nothing … meanwhile, our son was being beaten and tortured every day," she said.

The New York Times reported that the Obama administration will create an interagency hostage recovery "fusion cell," which will manage and coordinate any efforts on the part of families to pay a ransom to free their family members. The task force will be headquartered at the FBI and led by FBI supervisor Michael McGarrity, who will be the de facto "hostage czar."

While the policy shift, which Obama is expected to announce Wednesday, may have helped Foley and others, some are also warning that it may backfire.

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and NSA, told Newsmax that allowing families to pay a ransom to terrorists may make it "more likely that other people's children or father or sister are captured and held for ransom because you've suddenly made it more profitable for those who would do this."

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" hosts also questioned the possible unintended consequences of the policy shift.

"This obviously ... is really complicated because on the one hand, you want these families to have the ability to do things that the government cannot or will not do, but also, does this in some ways encourage hostage-takers because they know, one way or another, they’re probably going to get their money from someone if it’s not the U.S. government?" co-host Willie Geist asked.

However, MSNBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin told the hosts that there has not been an increase in the capture European hostages, even though several countries in Europe allow families to pay ransoms.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter told Fox News that the policy "doesn't fix anything. The money that we're going to be paying ISIS is going to be used to buy arms and to buy equipment to fight Americans and to fight the Iraqis." 

Watch the video here.



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President Barack Obama's shift in policy to allow families to pay a ransom to have their family members freed didn't come in time to help those already killed by the Islamic State (ISIS).
ransom, ISIS, hostage, policy, James Foley
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2015-20-24
Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 11:20 AM
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