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Denver Post: Don’t pay terrorist ransoms

The Denver Post

First Published Aug 22 2014 12:02 pm • Last Updated Aug 22 2014 05:44 pm

It seems the deranged terrorists who executed an American journalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq first viewed him as a revenue source.

Long before beheading James Foley, they had demanded a ransom of more than $100 million in exchange for his release.

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The U.S. declined. And however wrenching that decision may have been, it was the right call.

This country cannot put itself in the position of underwriting those who want to kill us. And the European countries that have been secretly capitulating to similar ransom demands from terror groups must stop.

The New York Times published a story in July describing how kidnapping foreigners for ransom had "become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe."

The story said al-Qaeda and its affiliates had collected $125 million in ransom since 2008, with $66 million of that having been received in the last year.

Though the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group that killed Foley, is separate from al-Qaeda, the group reportedly knew about the ransoms paid by European nations. According to The New York Times, ISIL was "hoping to abide by the same business plan."

That plan must become obsolete.

The U.S. and Great Britain have taken a strong stand against paying ransoms in an effort to cut off this lifeline to extremist groups. And in January, the United Nations Security Council passed an anti-ransom resolution in an effort to put political presure on countries that have paid ransoms.

The U.S. made the right move in attempting to free Foley in a secret military operation in Syria this summer, but Foley and other hostages unfortunately weren’t where officials thought they were.

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The U.S. cannot let that failure or even the barbaric slaying of Foley shake its resolve. The vicious cycle of paying ransom to terror groups must be broken, and our European allies must do their part.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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