Paying ransom only helps al Qaeda

September 27, 2010

There’s an interesting article at the Terror Finance Blog about the increase in the use of kidnapping to raise funds for jihadist groups, specifically Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), bin Laden’s North African franchise:

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

The article then goes on to talk about efforts to criminalize the payment of ransom, though I suspect that would be an exercise in futility when governments themselves can pay ransom via back-channels. Italy infamously paid ransom to Iraqi terrorists to recover journalist Giuliana Sgrena in 2005, while France has been rumored to have criticized Spain for paying ransom to AQIM. (Though Paris now denies this.)

But the real problem here (aside from paying kidnappers at all) is that this money is then used by AQIM (and al Qaeda, which surely gets a cut) to finance not only further kidnappings, but terrorist operations in North Africa, Europe, and around the world. Operations that get our people killed. In effect, governments and corporations are financing the hijackers and suicide bombers sent against us. And you can bet some of this money is going to research into easy means of mass destruction, such as poison gas.

Harsh and heartless as it would be to do so, the only way to stop these kidnappings is to refuse to pay any ransom; rather than treating the terrorist kidnappers are criminals, they should be hunted down and killed. And yes, that is in full recognition of the possible consequences.

If, instead, we keep paying, we’re only giving them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Meanwhile, back at the jihad – updated and bumped

July 25, 2010

While Chicken Littles squawk over an invasion of Texas for which there’s no evidence, Threat Matrix brings us news of a war that’s all too real: French troops in action against al Qaeda affiliates in North Africa:

French commandos, likely from the General Directorate for External Security, or DGSE, and Mauritanian troops raided an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camp in Mali in search of a French citizen kidnapped by the terror group. From Reuters:

  • A Mauritanian security source said the raids had continued some 200 km (125 miles) into Mali after Thursday’s pre-dawn attack on a group of Islamists who are believed to be holding the 78-year-old French hostage in Niger’s desert Sahel region.
  • The French Defense Ministry source said the operation was launched after AQIM failed to provide proof that Germaneau was alive or engage in negotiations over him. The operation follows calls for better international cooperation against AQIM, which was previously focused on Algeria but now has two factions that are increasingly active in remote desert regions of Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

Threat Matrix questions why Malian forces weren’t involved, since the raid was so deep in their country’s territory. My guess would be that the French, the former colonial power in Mali, had information indicating that the Malian security forces weren’t reliable. Perhaps they’re infiltrated by Islamists, a la the Pakistani military?

Regardless, this news is a reminder that our war with Salafis bent on jihad is worldwide, not just in Iraq or Afghanistan.

UPDATE: Damn. It looks like the brave, brave knights of Allah have executed their hostage, a 78-year old man. I hope the French kill every one of those swine. Slowly.