Retired Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
Having just returned from another tour of Sderot and discussions with
Israeli soldiers at the staging area near Gaza, Col (ret.) Richard
Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, sat down
for an interview with The Algemeiner.
Deborah Danan: Why do you think the international community expresses such vociferous objection to IDF actions in Gaza?
Col Richard Kemp: Well, the starting point for so
much of the world’s media, opinion-makers, political leaders, NGOs,
human rights groups, will always be that whatever Israel does is wrong.
It’s seen as oppressor of Palestinians, illegal occupiers – even of Gaza
despite the withdrawal nine years ago – then already your starting
point is at a disadvantage. Then add that to the fact that the Israeli
military operations against Hamas inevitably include civilian
casualties. The reason for that is because Hamas use as a key element –
possibly the key element of their strategy – human shields.
They want to lure and force Israel to kill civilians. And so you see
images of dead babies, dead boys on the beach, women screaming about
their children, and no reality can overcome those images. It’s
understandable in a way, because it is heart-wrenching, I’ve seen
firsthand what shrapnel can do to a baby, and it’s horrifying, and the
problem is that there’s no reference, no open-mindedness to the fact
that the only reason that these children have been killed is because of
Hamas’ aggression towards Israel.
DD: Do you have any recommendations as to what Israel could do to change these perceptions?
RK: Israel is doing to a large extent what it can;
obviously it’s got to have efficient and slick media operations to
counter the distortions that are so common in the international media.
But of course Israel is at a disadvantage there too because while Israel
might understand the need to come out with a rapid rebuttal or message
of the truth of what’s happening in the conflict, it still has to be
utterly faithful to facts and cannot afford to get it wrong, or to
exaggerate. Hamas, on the other hand, can say whatever they want and it
doesn’t get challenged and if it does get challenged it doesn’t matter
for them because they’re not accountable to anyone.
To me, the most important effort that Israel can make is not with the
masses, rather it’s with the decision makers, the world leaders, after
all, it’s their attitude and their understanding that will shape the way
the West sees Israel.
DD: What specific steps do the US and the UK take to avoid civilian casualties?
RK: They have restrictive rules of engagement in
conflicts where there is a risk of civilians getting killed, for example
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. They take strenuous efforts
to ensure the minimum loss of life of civilian populations, including
surveillance to verify the presence or absence or civilians, using
appropriate munitions – that is, not dropping massive bombs if there’s a
risk of killing nearby civilians, and sometimes the army might choose
to go in on the ground to avoid the collateral damage from airstrikes.
Or for example, if you would attack an objective with all guns blazing,
but you think that there might be civilians in the area, you might
choose not to fire until you’re sure there is a positive enemy target,
which of course puts your troops at a disadvantage, but it’s a risk you
take to preserve human life.
Three days ago I spoke to an Israeli pilot that told me that the same
morning he had aborted an enemy target a total of 17 times because
there were civilians in the target zone, and eventually he abandoned the
operation. I asked him, was that not frustrating? His answer was simply
no. And that to me, is one of the best things about the IAF – that the
last very thing they want to do is bomb a target and have that on their
conscience for the rest of their lives. And it was the same thing with
infantry soldiers. I spoke to soldiers who have been fighting in Gaza,
and several of them said to me: ‘We know what the rules of engagement
are but even without them, it is always on our minds that we cannot kill
civilians.’ See for them, this has nothing to do with orders, it’s just
always there at the forefront. We’re talking about [reservists who are]
simply artists, metal-workers, musicians, they are not killers. They
have absolutely no desire to kill civilians. In fact, in terms of
civilian casualties, the attitude of IDF solders is the exact mirror
image of the way they’re portrayed to the world.
DD: Tell us some more about the civilian to combatant ratio in conflicts since the Second World War.
RK: Since WWII, the average has been 3 civilians
dying for every fighter killed. In some conflicts that number is higher,
4 or 5 civilians dead for every combatant. In Operation Cast Lead and
Pillar of Defense it was 1-to-1 – and that’s a figure that has been
agreed upon by the Palestinians as well. Obviously, I can’t tell you
what the ratio will be of this operation because it’s not at the end.
What is discouraging though, is the willingness of media to simply
report the number of civilians killed in Gaza and how many are children –
figures which only come from Palestinian medical authorities which are
controlled by Hamas. I don’t know if they’re true or not, but you have
to make an assumption given Hamas’ track record for falsification of the
numbers of casualties. It is however, quite possible that when this
conflict ends we will see that the ration is more than 1-to-1, and if
that is the case it is likely to be attributed to two things, one is
what Hamas learned in Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead in the way to
better protect and hide their fighters and weapons from Israeli
airstrikes, including in underground tunnels, and number two, they know
from Pillar of Defense just how much traction you get from killing
civilians – and of course they want to capitalize on that.
DD: In your estimation, how much damage has Hamas inflicted from rockets that fall short and end up within Gaza’s borders?
RK: I don’t know – I couldn’t possibly estimate what
it amounts to in total. But obviously, we’ve just seen that rockets
fired by Hamas have landed on Al Shifa hospital and Al Shati refugee
camp. There’s no doubt that their munitions falling short are causing
significant civilian casualties.
DD: What’s the British attitude to the war with Gaza and do you think it’s changed over the last few operations?
RK: I think that the people in Britain have been
heavily influenced by the photographs of dead children, by Hamas
propaganda which incidentally includes of course, falsified photos of
dead children – including photographs of dead Israeli children who are
portrayed as dead Palestinian children. The Fogel family was attributed
as a Palestinian family. To show you the stupidity of the people that do
it, in the picture you can actually see a menorah. That sort of stuff
influences the British people, plus the strident voices of many of the
Muslim population in England who are outraged by the number of their
Muslim brethren being killed in Gaza – yet who seem to have no outrage
by the 190,000 killed in Syria. No protests, no outrage there, nothing.
The attitude of the British public as a whole is negative. However, the
attitude of the prime minister [David Cameron] has been much more
supportive than we’ve seen in the two other conflicts in Gaza. However, I
think that the British abstention in the vote of the resolution of the
UNHRC in condemning Israel and investigating war crimes is an act of
moral cowardice by Great Britain, and one which undermines the otherwise
strong support given by the government to Israel. When political
leaders tell Israel to take more steps to reduce civilian casualties –
thereby inferring that Israel is not doing enough and is somehow happy
to cause civilian casualties – that kind of message encourages Hamas to
continue their strategy of human shields and furthermore, encourages
other extremist groups around the world to follow the same strategy. And
that leads to the death of innocent people. Ban Ki Moon is guilty of
this, David Cameron is guilty of it, Barack Obama is guilty of it.
DD: How has the British army in Afghanistan gained from the Israeli army’s expertise?
RK: There are a number of elements that Britain has
taken from the Israeli army. One of which is methods of reducing
civilian casualties that we’ve seen in operation since Afghanistan,
where Britain has adopted tactics like leaflet dropping on targets with
potential civilians in the area. British soldiers lives have also been
saved by Israeli battlefield medical technology and also by Israeli
counter-bomb technology, that is, technological equipment that stops or
detects improvised explosive devices like roadside bombs. British
soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan have been saved and are being saved by
that technology. Beyond that, British and Israeli intelligence
cooperation is extremely tight and that has saved the lives not just of
soldiers but of British civilians as well. By the way, British soldiers
and ex-soldiers strongly support Israel and the IDF because unlike many
civilians, they understand the threat that Israel faces they understand
the tactics used by Hamas and they understand what the IDF have to do to
deal with Hamas because those same tactics are used by the Taliban and
in response, British soldiers have to use the tactics of the IDF to
DD: Finally, do you have a message to the Jewish People?
RK: I would say that the Jewish people should be
extremely proud of the state of Israel, they should try their best to
disregard the terrible anti-Israeli propaganda that is designed solely
to contribute to the conspiracy to exterminate the state of Israel – I
myself, am personally outraged by the shocking anti-Semitic violence and
verbal attacks that have been triggered by this conflict against Jews,
especially in Paris and Germany, but also in Britain and other countries
– it’s absolutely despicable and should be fought by authorities as
vigorously as possible.
Israel is the one country in the western world today that is standing
up for its morality and for its values against the onslaught of
Gabriele Barbati, Jerusalem Correspondent for Radio Popolare Milano. Photo: GB.
Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati
said he was able to speak freely about witnessing a Hamas misfire that
killed nine children at the Shati camp, confirming the Israel Defense
Forces version of events, but only after leaving Gaza, “far from Hamas
On Twitter, Barbati, Jerusalem Correspondent for Radio Popolare Milano, and a former reporter for Sky Italia, in Beijing, said, “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday [yesterday] in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.”
He said, “@IDFSpokesperson said truth in communique released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not #Israel behind it.”
On Tuesday, the IDF released aerial photos showing how a rocket from Gaza targeting Israel hit the Shati camp, run by the UNRWA, and Al Shifa Hospital, which has become a de-facto Hamas headquarters, against international rules of war.
Barbati said he was unable to speak about the Al Shifa hit, but he
was certain that it was a Hamas rocket that hit the Shati camp, and a
witness saw militants rushing to clean the debris.
An IDF diagram showing how four rockets from Gaza hit the sea, Israel, Shati and Al Shifa Hospital. Photo: IDF.
On Tuesday, CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, called out two correspondents from The Wall Street Journal
for deleting photographs that would implicate Hamas in the war crime of
using the Al Shifa hospital as a military headquarters. Other
journalists, including a Gazan reporter for French media recounted to
France’s Libération how Hamas had interrogated him in the same hospital, but later asked the newspaper to take down the story.
Elder of Ziyon said, “Every single report on TV from Gaza should have this disclaimer: ‘Our
reporters have been threatened, implicitly and perhaps explicitly, by
Hamas to only report one side of the story.Viewers must not trust
anything they are saying.’”
“There is an assumption of fairness in journalism, a contract between
the media and the viewers,” the influential blogger said. “This
contract has been broken, as far as I can tell, by nearly every single
reporter in Gaza in nearly every report, with a couple of rare
"Today, there is no electricity in Gaza. The shelling of the station is a violation of all red lines." Jamal Dardasawi, principal, Gaza's electricity distribution company
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Photo by AP
What happens when a citizen of any country doesn't pay its utility bills is that the utility cuts off its service. Israel supplies the major proportion of energy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Israel's energy provider is still awaiting payment of millions of dollars of energy-use that the Palestinian Authority has not found it necessary to pay for, and Israel still keeps the juices flowing lest it be accused of withholding vital necessities of life for millions of Palestinians.
Israel is, of course, accused of having hit the power plant that sat idle for weeks for lack of fuel this past winter. Since the facility powers water and sewage systems along with providing hospitals with their energy source, it is a catastrophe that eight of ten lines that run from Israel were damaged. By whom precisely has not yet been forensically determined, but fingers attached to Palestinian hands point directly toward Israel; guilt by accusation.
And striking during Eid Al-Fitr! Closing the holy month of Ramadan when devout Muslims such as Hamas and other Islamists are enjoined to love and care for their fellow Muslims. ISIS does it by slaughtering Shiites. The Syrian regime demonstrates its love and care by dropping barrel bombs on Syrian Sunnis. And Hamas enjoins Gazan civilians that it is their duty to the cause to become martyrs at the hands of the oppressors attempting to defend their own civilians from deadly rocket attacks, courtesy of Hamas.
The sanctity of holy days does not impress Islamists, evidently. After all, wasn't Israel surprised when it was attacked on the holiest of its Judaic traditional heritage religious days of Yom Kippur? And then they had the audacity to win the war against tremendous odds. That, in a nutshell, is the history of the modern Middle East. Modern in chronological date-time essence, but exceedingly backward in historical barbarity.
Israel had dispatched a number of high-profile terrorists during its Gaza incursion to halt the incessant rocket attacks against its citizens, we learn in unadorned language by Felice Friedson, whose report has been published through The Media Line, and which names terrorists just that; not namby-pamby 'fighters' or 'insurgents'. Published as is, in the National Post, how about that? Imagine, calling Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists! Even though, of course, they are named as such by the EU, Canada and the U.S. Impolite language nonetheless, albeit accurate.
So then, Salah Abu Hassanein, commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Military Media Division has been martyred, targeted by Israel in Gaza. He has polished up his last bit of propaganda aggrandizing terrorist exploits against the 'occupier', who occupies simply because he, his group and others of their ilk, terrorize Israel. Regional commanders for PIJ, who controlled the northern and central Gaza Strip sectors, have gone to meet their maker, along with Shaaban Dakdoukh, commander of Zeitoun forces known to bury long-range rockets and smuggle weapons, has also been dispatched.
Mahmoud Sinwar (how aptly named!) who directed military activities inclusive of rocket fire, involved as well in the building of attack tunnels under Israel, and the raid that captured Gilad Shalit whose eventual release also led to the release of countless murdering terrorists in his exchange, is now an honoured martyr, awaiting his letched-for virgins.
And although the Israeli command has every reason to believe heavy losses have also been inflicted on Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades, the full extent of their martyrdom is not yet revealed since many of their mortal remains are buried beneath the tons of rubble from destroyed tunnels where they just happened to have been taking shelter. Expect the unexpected. Always.
Commander of Al-Qassam's naval force, Mohammad Shaaban, was targeted and killed with three others while in his car in Gaza City. Mr. Shaaban was known for spearheading Hamas's increasing efforts at infiltration into Israel from the sea for the purpose of conducting mass killings in Israeli coastal communities, and although his usefulness will be missed by Hamas, those Israelis living in the targeted communities will breathe a slight sigh of relief, tempered only by the fact that they know there will be someone to replace him before long.
But yet, there will be a satisfaction in the fact that an infiltration attempt was thwarted on the very day of his death, when five terrorists were handily intercepted by the Israeli army as they emerged onto the beach at Kibbutz Zikim, where they were seen emerging by soldiers, and given their reward in Paradise. Targeted assassination scored Osama Al-Hayyah, commander of Al-Qassam forces in Shajaiah, the site of one of the first and fiercest battles of the Israeli ground operation.
Mr. Al-Hayyah has the distinction of being the eldest son of Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and founding member of Hamas, who would, then, have been known familiarly as Abu Osama. Despite these dreadful losses, Hamas courageously carries on, both on the battlefield and on the progress of its propaganda campaign, so hugely popular in the West, albeit somewhat less so in the Mideast where its tactics are so familiar.
As, for example, creating the uncertified and certain-to-horrify, much-repeated figures that over 80% of the 1,137 Palestinians who perished throughout the first two weeks of fighting represent non-combatant women and children. Israel, a trifle more meticulous about verities, speaks of the manipulated process of identifying the dead for the purpose of persuading the world that Israel is busy slaughtering innocents who have been unfortunately placed in harm's way.
A comparison study of the names of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge and the relationship between terror groups and uninvolved citizens carried out by Reuven Ehrilch of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Centre, an Israeli think-tank, reached the conclusion that out of 152 names checked, 71 were identified as terror agents, while 81 were uninvolved citizens, who had indeed been deliberately placed in harm's way as human shields.
The Gaza Interior Ministry, controlled by Hamas, has ordered social networking emanating from the Gaza Strip to speak of every Palestinian who dies as an "innocent civilian".
"Gaza is giving children grenades ... and asking their citizens to be sheep to the slaughter." "Gazan officials tell their people to be killed while they hide in bomb shelters. Cowards? No, this is worse than cowardice. It is vile and ugly and they should be put to shame. Instead, it is Israel who is put to shame." "Throughout the world, injustices happen on a near-daily basis. But these same activists, when they hear the cry of the moment, if it is anti-Israel it is an easy bandwagon to get on, to get their anti-Israel warpaint on and join their friends between potlucks, veggie smoothies and coffee breaks." "[Hamas, instead of caring about the welfare of Palestinians, is focused on] killing, of carrying the banner of martyrdom, and of watching its fellow people die." "And yet, these are the same people who are embraced and loved by the international community, with marches on Parliament Hill in Canada's capital, and in cities throughout the world, holding banners and chanting about the destruction of the state of Israel and of death to the Jews." "Unless we want to see another Mullah amongst us, where other religions aside from a certain variety of Islam are not allowed, where synagogues are used as latrines and garbage dumps and Christians are living in constant fear [people need to re-examine their priorities]." Paul Estrin, Green Party of Canada president
No caps and gowns: These Gaza graduates sport fatigues, guns, and suicide vest -- The Blaze
Oh dear, Mr. Estrin, what a hullabaloo of opprobrium and approbation you have raised in your political party, causing your leader, Elizabeth May, no end of consternation, having to deal with maintaining her party's stance firmly on the fence, in the middle, neutral, uninvolved, and untainted by favouritism, or as the left would have it, defence of the indefensible. Supporting Zionist Israel in its defensive war against the offensive Hamas? How could you!
But there it is, passion and frustration got the better of your political instincts. Mr. Estrin wrote an essay, "Why Gaza makes me sad", and had the effrontery to publish it online on the Green Party's website. It is not, some angered party members rage, a reflection of their party's policy. That it is not, should be a matter of shame, but that's another story altogether. "I didn't know he felt this way about Gaza", said an embattled party leader Elizabeth May. "He had not raised this before."
Well, if the New Democratic Party was able to smother their irrepressibly Israel-bashing Libby Davis whose out-of-this-world statement that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land "since 1948", since ridding itself of the equally obnoxious and flamboyantly sanctimonious Svend Robinson who loved no entity more than he did Hamas and detested no state more than he did Israel, surely the Greens can manage to balance their own party's moral compass to a finer balance?
While she and the Greens also condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, they don't have an unquestioning attitude toward Israel, Ms. May iterated. At a convention that took place earlier in the month the party formally called for an immediate cessation of "hostilities" between Israel and Palestine (Palestine?), reaching the conclusion it would adopt a "posture of engaged neutrality", favouring a diplomatic end to the conflict. Their concern must have slipped Hamas's and Israel's notice.
Future Jihadis "defend" Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque - The Blaze
How does one diplomatically engage with one hell of a deadly-dedicated belligerent force acknowledged in international circles as terrorists, whose founding covenant focuses specifically on its raison d'etre; the destruction of a Jewish state whose presence enrages Hamas's Islamist credentials that an upstart Zionist entity would take it upon itself to profane land sacred to Islam by its presence?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that blind ignorance afflicts members of the Green Party. If one takes a lesson from the party's peace and security critic, Ronnie Smith, who while defending Mr. Estrin's right to his opinion, but that his "knee-jerk reaction and irresponsible use of history was insulting, poorly conceived and reveals a tremendous lack of judgement unbefitting the author's post", puts a neat end-note on the issue.
A simple remedy exists: cut off his head; Lewis Carroll must have inspired the Islamists to beheading Zionist infidels.
"In the wake of continued aggression by Russia, which includes the ongoing supply of logistical support and weapons systems to agents of the Putin regime in eastern Ukraine, Canada is announcing its intent to once again increase economic and political pressure, in the coming days, by imposing additional sanctions on the regime and those closest to it." "President Putin's failure to end his support to armed rebel groups constitutes a very real threat to international peace and security. His actions represent an overt, direct threat to the Ukrainian people and its rightfully elected government," Prime Minster Stephen Harper, Ottawa, Canada
"Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of progress. It does not have to be this way. We can't, in the end, make President Putin see more clearly; ultimately that's something President Putin has to do on his own." U.S. President Barack Obama
"Furthermore, when the violence created spirals out of control and leads to the killing of almost 300 innocent civilians in their flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia, the situation requires urgent and determined response." "[The 28-nation bloc means to send a] strong warning [to President Putin that the] illegal annexation [of Crimea and Russia's destabilization of Ukraine cannot be tolerated]." Herman Van Rompuy, EU president, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president
Europe's capital markets, EU citizens and banks will now be barred from buying bonds or stocks issued by state-owned Russian banks in an effort to restrict Russia's access to Europe's capital markets. For its part, the U.S. sanctioned three Russian banks; VTB Bank, Bank of Moscow, and the Russian Agricultural Bank; along with a state-owned shipbuilder. Credits encouraging exports to Russia have been suspended, and the export of certain goods to Russia's oil and gas industry have been prohibited.
The new European sanctions will include an arms embargo on Moscow along with a ban on the sale of technology that could have dual military and civilian use, or is of a sensitive nature, such as advanced equipment used for deep-sea and Arctic oil drilling. Europe has hesitated to embark on tougher sanctions, more highly dependent on its trade relationship with Russia, for fear of harming their own economies and with a view to their gas dependence on Russia.
Germany imports one-third of its gas from Russia. France has decided to proceed with its contract to deliver two high-value warships to Russia. "Unlike the Americans, we always have to get 28 countries together. And the interests are very different. All the same, I think that we -- at the latest with the shooting down of this plane -- have a situation in which we cannot simply carry on in the same way", explained Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice-chancellor and economy minister.
American authorities state they expect Europe's list of targets to include some of the same energy companies, defence suppliers and financial institutions hit with sanctions by the Obama administration even before the Malaysian airliner had been shot down from the sky over Ukraine. President Putin's obduracy may continue; there are rumours in certain circles that the Kremlin has decided to give permission for Russian forces to enter Ukraine.
If so, Russia will have completely isolated itself and earned the umbrage -- with an emphasis on outrage and disappointment -- of the rest of Europe and North America. As its already-embattled economy slowly disintegrates and Russian citizens find themselves no longer so willing to admire and encourage their belligerent president to continue raising the outraged hackles of other world leaders.
"[The Communications Security Establishment Canada] detected and confirmed a cyber intrusion on the IT infrastructure of the National Research Council of Canada." "Following assessment by NRC and its security partners, action has been taken to contain and address this security breach, including protecting its information holdings and notifying the privacy commissioner. NRC has also taken steps to inform its clients and stakeholders about this situation." "NRC is continuing to work closely with its IT experts and security partners to create a new secure IT infrastructure. Every step is being taken to minimize disruption." National Research Council statement
/ THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo The Communications Security Establishment Canada complex is pictured
in Ottawa. The spy agency says In a statement, the government says a
cyber attack on federal government computers came from "a highly
sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor."
A massive, year-long security overhaul of NRC's computer systems has been launched in the wake of a series of cyber attacks, and those attacks are believed to have emanated from China. Why might China be interested in what the National Research Council of Canada is doing? China is interested in finding solutions to vexing questions by trawling through the IT systems of other governments, of science councils, of international corporations; in short wherever it can manage to short-track the tedious business of investing time and expertise in discovering their own government, military, industrial or commercial formulae for just about anything.
The National Research Council is working on an advanced computer encryption system meant to prevent just such attacks, working alongside private sector and university research teams on a physics-based, state-of-the-art advanced system. Even while, in doing so, it hopes to prevent any and all such future intrusions, their discoveries to advance security are also of huge interest to China, never averse to hi-jacking the advances that other agencies have succeeded with, and illegally and immorally copying.
"The emerging field of quantum communication promises unhackable, secure communication that can be applied to protect our digital infrastructure" explains NRC's website. "NRC is developing photonics-based, quantum-enhanced cuber security solutions ... collaborating to develop technologies that address increased demands for high-performance security for communications, data storage and data processing." A little bit of irony there and perhaps incentive to accelerate the process....
Those statements would be of interest to the casual Canadian taxpayer happening upon the NCR website, giving them the assurance that NRC is busy spending taxpayer funding very well. Of course that represents just one of countless valuable scientific and commercial enquiries, investigations, research experiments and topics that the federal research council is involved with, in laboratories both within their own buildings and at universities and private companies around the country.
That particular statement updating the curious, would also appeal hugely, irresistibly, to covert national agents conducting Internet surveillance, persuading them it is well worth their while to lurk about in the inner cyber-sanctums of the National Research Council to search out whatever can be retrieved to be of benefit to them, without the cost and exercise of actual scientific research and experimentation. If, successful, that kind of technology would place Canada as a leader in the field of quantum cyber security.
The intelligence-and-security breach has resulted in a lengthy shut-down of the NRC's website and Internet presence, locking down accessibility until it can be assured that no further such break-ins will occur to compromise the integrity of their web presence, and result in the stealth capture of valuable materials. Still, according to one academic, the breach is unlikely to harm research on an alarming scale.
Most of the science and engineering conducted by NRC's partners are done by individuals or small groups maintaining their data separately from NRC's servers "I'm interested (in the cyber attack) as a Canadian citizen but, as a research scientist, this has zero effect on me", he stated. Canada is in the process of integrating all of its federal IT departments with a view to consolidating 485 data centres into seven places, replacing 63 email systems with one, reducing the number of networks with a greater number of departments sharing IT infrastructure in a secure framework.
National Research Council, along with Health Canada, the RCMP, Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, all have IT operations which represent the most complex and sensitive IT infrastructure in Canada. Shared Services Canada is mandated to create consolidated data centres to cut down on costs and increase security, and perhaps in the process also create a system of improved data flow.
In the meanwhile, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, is currently on a China visit, to advance arrangements for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's projected state visit to China later in the year. While there he is discussing with his counterpart this very issue, among others. And given that China's ruling Communist Party has announced an investigation into its ex-security chief, perhaps it's timely. President Xi Jinping had expressed his unease with rampant corruption in his country and at his inauguration had stressed his intention to clear corruption out of its administration.
He may wish to extend his determination to present China as a more trusted political and trade partner to the international community by toning down his nation's infamous penchant for making off with other countries' patents, scientific and technological research results and commercial successes.
now removed tweet from the WSJ's Tamer El-Ghobashy, who suggested Hamas
was likely responsible for a strike that hit Al Shifa Hospital. Photo:
Two reporters in Gaza for The Wall Street Journal have
deleted photographs that implicate Hamas in war crimes, namely using the
Al Shifa hospital as a military headquarters, and media watchdog
CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America,
on Tuesday asked them why the posts were removed? So far, CAMERA has
received no answers from the reporters or from their editors, but the
group said the deleted posts might be further evidence of Hamas
“The Wall Street Journal’s
credibility hinges on it being transparent about what information is
being withheld from readers, and why,” CAMERA wrote in a note to
subscribers. “If information that casts Hamas in a negative light is
being censored for the safety of journalists — The Times of Israel documented such intimidation of journalists in an article today — then readers must be informed that they are only getting a partial story.”
CAMERA said, “If readers aren’t informed, or if such information is
being deleted for any other reason, the newspaper does not deserve to be
seen as credible.”
Casey’s caption: “You have to wonder w the shelling how patients at
Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.”
The second photo published by CAMERA was by the WSJ‘s Tamer El-Ghobashy, who “suggested Hamas was likely responsible for a strike that hit Al Shifa Hospital,” the group said.
The caption read: “An outside wall on the campus of Gaza’s main
hospital was hit by a strike. Low level damage suggest Hamas misfire.”
CAMERA said, ”The tweet was later replaced by a very similar one in which El-Ghobashy refrained from mentioning Hamas.”
“In response to pressure on Twitter, El-Ghobashy insisted that he
deleted his post because it contained speculation. But the justification
is questionable,” CAMERA said. “The same reporter had no problem speculating about earlier strikes speaking on Wall Street Journal
radio, where he agreed with speculation and stated that the likelihood
‘seems very very slim’ that Hamas rounds hit a UN school, and on
Twitter, where he asserted as fact that Israel killed Palestinians at
the school, a claim Israel challenged.”
“Ask them why Casey’s information about Hamas basing itself in Shifa
Hospital, and El-Ghobashy’s educated guess that the relatively light
damage of the hospital wall likely meant it was hit by a Hamas round,
was censored,” CAMERA said.
CAMERA’s note was widely discussed on blogs on Tuesday. Scott Johnson, at the Powerline blog,
wrote about Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who offered a
warning to foreign reporters unaccustomed to how Hamas treats the press.
Johnson wrote: “Khaled Abu Toameh may
be the bravest journalist I have ever met. He puts what is going on here
this way in his excellent Gatestone [Institute] column,
and he has the standing to make the point stick: ‘Journalists who are
afraid to report the truth should not be covering a conflict like the
Israeli-Arab one. They should go back to their editors and demand that
they be reassigned to cover sports or the environment. As long as such
journalists continue to operate in the region, Hamas will feel safe to
bomb as many mosques as it wants and to kill as many Palestinians as it
Over the past three weeks, many other journalists have taken down
posts from social media to either avoid pressure from the Hamas
spokesmen or the often hateful responses by supporters of Gaza’s war
In its stead, the newspaper wrote: “This article, which described the
attempted intimidation of Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga,
correspondent for Ouest France and formerly of Libération, was unpublished at his request.”
The Financial Times’sJerusalem correspondent John Reed was targeted
on Twitter for noting that Hamas was firing from a rocket launch site
adjacent to the Al Shifa hospital, even as the wounded were being
brought in for treatment. But Reed, a veteran reporter for the FT in
Poland and South Africa, let his post stand.
BAMAKO, Mali — The cash filled three suitcases: 5 million euros.
German official charged with delivering this cargo arrived here aboard a
nearly empty military plane and was whisked away to a secret meeting
with the president of Mali, who had offered Europe a face-saving
solution to a vexing problem.
Officially, Germany had budgeted the money as humanitarian aid for the poor, landlocked nation of Mali.
truth, all sides understood that the cash was bound for an obscure
group of Islamic extremists who were holding 32 European hostages,
according to six senior diplomats directly involved in the exchange.
suitcases were loaded onto pickup trucks and driven hundreds of miles
north into the Sahara, where the bearded fighters, who would soon become
an official arm of Al Qaeda, counted the money on a blanket thrown on
the sand. The 2003 episode was a learning experience for both sides.
Eleven years later, the handoff in Bamako has become a well-rehearsed
ritual, one of dozens of such transactions repeated all over the world.
Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.
European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New
York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in
at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which
$66 million was paid just last year.
news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has
cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165
million over the same period.
payments were made almost exclusively by European governments, who
funneled the money through a network of proxies, sometimes masking it as
development aid, according to interviews conducted for this article
with former hostages, negotiators, diplomats and government officials in
10 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The inner workings
of the kidnapping business were also revealed in thousands of pages of
internal Qaeda documents found by this reporter while on assignment for
The Associated Press in northern Mali last year.
its early years, Al Qaeda received most of its money from deep-pocketed
donors, but counterterrorism officials now believe the group finances
the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms
paid to free Europeans.
Put more bluntly, Europe has become an inadvertent underwriter of Al Qaeda.
foreign ministries of Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland
denied in emails or telephone interviews that they had paid the
terrorists. “The French authorities have repeatedly stated that France
does not pay ransoms,” said Vincent Floreani, deputy director of
communication for France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
senior diplomats involved in past negotiations have described the
decision to pay ransom for their countries’ citizens as an agonizing
calculation: Accede to the terrorists’ demand, or allow innocent people
to be killed, often in a gruesome, public way?
Yet the fact that Europe and its intermediaries continue to pay has set off a vicious cycle.
for ransom has become today’s most significant source of terrorist
financing,” said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s under
secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a 2012 speech.
“Each transaction encourages another transaction.”
business is booming: While in 2003 the kidnappers received around
$200,000 per hostage, now they are netting up to $10 million, money that
the second in command of Al Qaeda’s central leadership recently
described as accounting for as much as half of his operating revenue.
hostages is an easy spoil,” wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “which I may describe as a profitable
trade and a precious treasure.”
stream of income generated is so significant that internal documents
show that as long as five years ago, Al Qaeda’s central command in
Pakistan was overseeing negotiations for hostages grabbed as far afield
as Africa. Moreover, the accounts of survivors held thousands of miles
apart show that the three main affiliates of the terrorist group — Al
Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in northern Africa; Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen; and the Shabab, in Somalia — are
coordinating their efforts and abiding by a common kidnapping protocol.
minimize the risk to their fighters, the terror affiliates have
outsourced the seizing of hostages to criminal groups who work on
commission. Negotiators take a reported 10 percent of the ransom,
creating an incentive on both sides of the Mediterranean to increase the
overall payout, according to former hostages and senior
business plan includes a step-by-step process for negotiating, starting
with long periods of silence aimed at creating panic back home.
Hostages are then shown on videos begging their government to negotiate.
the kidnappers threaten to kill their victims, a review of the known
cases revealed that only a small percentage of hostages held by Qaeda
affiliates have been executed in the past five years, a marked
turnaround from a decade ago, when videos showing beheadings of
foreigners held by the group’s franchise in Iraq would regularly turn up
online. Now the group has realized it can advance the cause of jihad by
keeping hostages alive and trading them for prisoners and suitcases of
a handful of countries have resisted paying, led by the United States
and Britain. Although both these countries have negotiated with
extremist groups — evidenced most recently by the United States’ trade
of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — they have drawn the line
when it comes to ransoms.
is a decision that has had dire consequences. While dozens of Europeans
have been released unharmed, few American or British nationals have
gotten out alive. A lucky few ran away or were rescued by special
forces. The rest were executed or are being held indefinitely.
Europeans have a lot to answer for,” said Vicki Huddleston, the former
United States deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs,
who was the ambassador to Mali in 2003 when Germany paid the first
ransom. “It’s a completely two-faced policy. They pay ransoms and then
deny any was paid.” She added, “The danger of this is not just that it
grows the terrorist movement, but it makes all of our citizens
Feb. 23, 2003, a group of four Swiss tourists, including two
19-year-old women, woke up in their sleeping bags in southern Algeria to
the shouts of armed men. The men told the young women to cover their
hair with towels, then commandeered their camper van and took off with
the coming weeks, another seven tour groups traveling in the same
corner of the desert vanished. European governments scrambled to find
their missing citizens.
passed before a German reconnaissance plane sent to scan the desert
floor returned with images of their abandoned vehicles. More weeks
passed before a scout sent on foot spotted something white through his
It was a letter left under a rock.
messy handwriting, it laid out the demands of a little-known jihadist
group calling itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.
with a few hunting rifles and old AK-47s, the kidnappers succeeded in
sweeping up dozens of tourists over several consecutive weeks, mostly
from Germany, but also from Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and
Switzerland. Though they planned the first few ambushes, they appear to
have grabbed others by chance, like a pair of hapless 26-year-olds from
Innsbruck, Austria, who were spotted because of the campfire they had
lit to cook spaghetti.
the initial grab, the kidnappers did not seem to have a plan. The only
food they had was the canned goods the tourists had brought with them.
The only fuel was what was in each gas tank. They abandoned the cars one
by one as they ran out of fuel, forcing their hostages to continue on
47-year-old Swedish hostage, Harald Ickler, remembers being so hungry
that when he found a few leftover Danish butter cookie crumbs, he
carefully scooped them into the palm of his hand and then let them melt
in his mouth.
they had us, they didn’t seem to know what to do with us,” said Reto
Walther of Untersiggenthal, Switzerland, who was in one of the first
groups to be grabbed. “They were improvising.”
the operation’s amateur nature, the jihadists had hit a soft spot.
Almost none of the hostages had resisted, simply putting up their hands
when they saw the gunmen. And although the Europeans outnumbered their
captors, the hostages never tried to run away during what turned into a
six-month captivity for some of them, and described the foreboding
desert surrounding them as an “open-air prison.”
although the European nations had firepower superior to that of the
scrappy mujahedeen, they deemed a rescue mission too dangerous.
jihadists asked for weapons. Then for impossible-to-meet political
demands, like the removal of the Algerian government. When a 45-year-old
German woman died of dehydration, panicked European officials began
considering a ransom concealed as an aid payment as the least-bad
Americans told us over and over not to pay a ransom. And we said to
them: ‘We don’t want to pay. But we can’t lose our people,’” said a
European ambassador posted in Algeria at the time, who was one of six
senior Western officials with direct knowledge of the 2003 kidnapping
who confirmed details for this article. All spoke on the condition of
anonymity because the information remains classified.
“It was a very difficult situation,” he said, “but in the end we are talking about human life.”
The exploits of the band of fighters in the Sahara did not go unnoticed.
year later, in 2004, a Qaeda operative, Abdelaziz al-Muqrin, published a
how-to guide to kidnapping, in which he highlighted the successful
ransom negotiation of “our brothers in Algeria.” Yet at the same time,
he also praised the execution of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel
Pearl, who was grabbed in Pakistan in 2002 and beheaded nine days later
by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a senior Qaeda member believed to be one of
the architects of the Sept. 11 attacks.
a few years, there was a split within Al Qaeda, with the group’s
affiliate in Iraq grabbing foreigners specifically to kill them.
In Algeria, the kidnappers of the European tourists followed a different path.
used the €5 million as the seed money for their movement, recruiting
and training fighters who staged a series of devastating attacks. They
grew into a regional force and were accepted as an official branch of
the Qaeda network, which baptized them Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
As kidnapping revenue became their main lifeline, they honed and
perfected the process.
Feb. 2, 2011, when their lookouts in southern Algeria spotted a
53-year-old Italian tourist, Mariasandra Mariani, admiring the rolling
dunes through a pair of binoculars, they were running a sleek operation.
tour guide was the first to spot them, and screamed at her to run. As
their cars sped toward her, she sprinted to her nearby desert bungalow
and locked herself inside. She could do nothing but sit frozen on the
mattress as they broke down the door. They threw her in a waiting car,
handcuffing her to the dashboard. Before they sped off, they made sure
to place a rolled-up blanket next to her, so that the jihadist sitting
next to her would not accidentally make contact with a woman.
“Who are you?” she asked them.
“We are Al Qaeda,” they replied.
previous kidnapping missions did not seem to have a thought-out plan,
the gunmen who seized Ms. Mariani drove for days on what appeared to be a
clearly delineated route. Whenever they were low on fuel, they would
make their way to a spot that to her looked no different in the
otherwise identical lunar landscape.
a thorn bush, they would find a drum full of gasoline. Or a stack of
tires to replace a punctured one. They never ran out of food.
Ms. Mariani would later learn they had an infrastructure of supplies buried in the sand and marked with GPS coordinates.
afternoon they stopped just above the lip of a dune. The fighters got
down and unfastened a shovel. Then she heard the sound of a car engine.
Suddenly a pickup truck roared out. They had buried an entire vehicle in
the mountain of sand.
“It was then that I realized, these aren’t just normal criminals,” Ms. Mariani said.
passed before Ms. Mariani’s captors announced that they were going to
allow her to make a phone call. They drove for hours until they reached a
plateau, a flat white pan of dirt.
earlier, their strategy for broadcasting their demands had been to
leave a letter under a rock. Now they had satellite phones and a list of
numbers. They handed her a script and dialed the number for Al Jazeera.
name is Mariasandra Mariani. I am the Italian who was kidnapped,” she
said. “I am still being detained by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”
The Italian government scrambled to create a crisis unit, including a 24-hour hotline for the kidnappers.
her 14-month captivity, whenever the kidnappers felt that attention had
flagged, they erected a tent in the desert and forced Ms. Mariani to
record a video message, showing her surrounded by her armed captors.
total of 11 former hostages grabbed by Qaeda units in Algeria, Mali,
Niger, Syria and Yemen who agreed to be interviewed for this article
reported a similar set of steps in the negotiations, beginning with an
imposed period of silence. Video messages and telephone calls were
infrequent, often months apart. The silence appeared purposeful,
intended to terrorize the families of the captives, who in turn
pressured their respective governments.
the Italian village of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Ms. Mariani’s
80-year-old mother stopped sleeping in her bedroom, moving permanently
to the couch in front of the television. Her aging father would burst
into tears for no reason. In France, the frantic brother of a hostage
held for a year in Syria developed an ulcer.
over Europe, families rallied, pressuring governments to pay. Ms.
Mariani was ultimately released, along with two Spanish hostages, for a
ransom that a negotiator involved in her case said was close to €8
bulk of the kidnappings-for-ransom carried out in Al Qaeda’s name have
occurred in Africa, and more recently in Syria and Yemen. These regions
are thousands of miles from the terror network’s central command in
audio messages released by the group, as well as confidential letters
between commanders, indicate the organization’s senior leaders are
directly involved in the negotiations.
As early as 2008, a commander holding two Canadian diplomats angered his leaders by negotiating a ransom on his own.
In a letter discovered by this reporter
in buildings abandoned by the jihadists in Mali last year, Al Qaeda in
the Islamic Maghreb blamed the commander, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, for
securing only the “meager sum” of €700,000 — around $1 million — saying
the low amount was a result of his unwillingness to follow the
instructions of the group’s leadership in Pakistan.
his last broadcast before his death in 2011, Osama bin Laden spoke at
length about the case of four French citizens held by Al Qaeda in Mali,
making clear that he was keeping close tabs on individual kidnappings.
Hostages held as recently as last year in Yemen say it was clear the negotiations were being handled by a distant leadership.
and Leila Kaleva, a Finnish couple held for five months by Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula in 2013, deduced this from the voluminous
correspondence they saw being delivered to their captors.
were lots of letters back and forth,” Mr. Kaleva said. “It was clear
that they had a hierarchy, and they were consulting their leaders about
what to do with us.”
the dozens of kidnappings that Al Qaeda has carried out, the threat of
execution has hung over each hostage, reinforced in videos showing the
victim next to armed and menacing jihadist guards.
fact, only a minority of hostages — 15 percent, according to an
analysis by The Times — have been executed or have died since 2008,
several of them in botched rescue operations.
potential income hostages represent has made them too valuable to the
movement. In a 2012 letter to his fellow jihadists in Africa, the man
who was once Bin Laden’s personal secretary, and who is now the second
in command of Al Qaeda, wrote that at least half of his budget in Yemen
was funded by ransoms.
to Allah, most of the battle costs, if not all, were paid from through
the spoils,” wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula. “Almost half the spoils came from hostages.”
Kaleva realized his captors did not intend to kill him when he became
ill with what he feared was a giardia infection, and his worried
kidnappers immediately brought him medicine.
Ms. Mariani fell ill from violent dysentery in the burning sands of the
Malian desert, a jihadist doctor hooked her up to an IV, nursing her
back to health.
Elsewhere in the Sahara, the jihadists trucked in specialized medication for a 62-year-old Frenchwoman who had breast cancer.
“It was clear to us,” Mr. Kaleva said, “that we are more valuable to them alive than dead.”
But hostages from countries that do not pay ransoms face a harsh fate.
2009, four tourists were returning to Niger from a music festival in
Mali when kidnappers overtook their cars, shooting out their tires. The
hostages included a German woman, a Swiss couple and a British man,
Edwin Dyer, 61.
the start of the negotiations, the British government made clear it
would not pay for Mr. Dyer’s release. Al Qaeda’s North African branch
issued a deadline, then a 15-day extension.
British wanted me to send a message saying one last time that they
wouldn’t pay,” said a negotiator in Burkina Faso, who acted as the
go-between. “I warned them, ‘Don’t do this.’ They sent the message
after, the public information office of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
published a communiqué: “On Sunday, May 31, 2009, at half past seven
p.m. local time, the British captive, Edwin Dyer, was killed,” it said.
“It seems Britain gives little importance to its citizens.”
Swiss and German nationals held alongside Mr. Dyer were released after a
reported ransom of €8 million was paid, according to one of the Swiss
negotiators who helped win their release. The same year, lawmakers in
Bern, the Swiss capital, voted on a national budget that “suddenly had
an extra line for humanitarian aid for Mali,” the official said.
Dyer was a British citizen, but he had spent the last four decades of
his life in Austria, a country that pays ransoms. In his early 20s, he
settled in the mountain village of Attnang-Puchheim, a one-hour drive
from the home of an Austrian couple who were released in Mali a few
months before Mr. Dyer was killed. Austria paid €2 million to the
couple’s Qaeda captors, according to Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, a Malian
parliamentarian who negotiated their release.
In England, Mr. Dyer’s grieving brother, Hans, said his brother’s citizenship had cost him his life.
“A U.K. passport is essentially a death certificate,” he said.
Negotiators believe that the Qaeda branches have now determined which governments pay.
the 53 hostages known to have been taken by Qaeda’s official branches
in the past five years, a third were French. And small nations like
Austria, Spain and Switzerland, which do not have large expatriate
communities in the countries where the kidnappings occur, account for
over 20 percent of the victims.
contrast, only three Americans are known to have been kidnapped by Al
Qaeda or its direct affiliates, representing just 5 percent of the
me, it’s obvious that Al Qaeda is targeting them by nationality,” said
Jean-Paul Rouiller, the director of the Geneva Center for Training and
Analysis of Terrorism, who helped set up Switzerland’s counterterrorism
program. “Hostages are an investment, and you are not going to invest
unless you are pretty sure of a payout.”
Cohen, the United States under secretary for terrorism and financial
intelligence, said information gathered by the Treasury Department
suggested that Al Qaeda may no longer want to kidnap Americans, a
tectonic shift from a decade ago.
know that hostage takers looking for ransoms distinguish between those
governments that pay ransoms and those that do not, and make a point of
not taking hostages from those countries that do not pay,” he said in a
2012 speech to the Chatham House think tank in London. “And recent
kidnapping-for-ransom trends appear to indicate that hostage takers
prefer not to take U.S. or U.K. hostages, almost certainly because they
understand that they will not receive ransoms.”
countries have signed numerous agreements calling for an end to ransom
paying, including as recently as last year at a G8 summit, where some of
the biggest ransom payers in Europe signed a declaration agreeing to
stamp out the practice. Yet according to hostages released this year and
veteran negotiators, governments in Europe — especially France, Spain
and Switzerland — continue to be responsible for some of the largest
payments, including a ransom of €30 million — about $40 million — paid
last fall to free four Frenchmen held in Mali.
presidential adviser in Burkina Faso who has helped secure the release
of several of the Westerners held in the Sahara said he routinely dealt
with aggressive Western diplomats who demanded the release of Qaeda
fighters held in local prisons in an effort to win the release of their
hostages, often one of the additional demands kidnappers make.
would not believe the pressure that the West brings to bear on African
countries,” he said. “It’s you, the West, who is their lifeblood,” he
said. “It’s you who finances them.”
The suitcases of cash are now no longer dropped off in the capital of the respective country, he said.
official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons,
went on to describe how the money was transferred. European governments
send an escort, he said, who travels with the money several hundred
miles into the desert until the last safe outpost, usually leaving from
Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, or Niamey in Niger. The
negotiator and his driver then continue driving all day, and sometimes
all night, traversing a roller coaster of undulating dunes.
the negotiator arrives at the meeting point, he waits until his
satellite phone beeps with a text message. In the message is a pair of
drives another five to six hours until he reaches the new address in
the sand and waits for the next text, containing another set of
coordinates. The process is repeated a minimum of three times before the
jihadists finally show themselves.
money is counted on a blanket on which the fighters sit cross-legged,
their guns at their sides, the official said. The millions are then
divided into stashes, wrapped in plastic and buried in holes hundreds of
miles apart, a detail he was able to glean after repeated meetings with
the terrorist cell. They mark the location on their GPS, keeping track
of it just as they track their buried cars and fuel drums.
money is written off by European governments as an aid payment, or else
delivered through intermediaries, like the French nuclear giant Areva, a
state-controlled company that a senior negotiator said paid €12.5
million in 2011 and €30 million in 2013 to free five French citizens. (A
spokesman for Areva denied in an email that a ransom had been paid.)
Yemen, the intermediaries are Oman and Qatar, which pay the ransoms on
behalf of European governments, including more than $20 million for two
groups of hostages released in the past year, according to European and
a year into her captivity in 2012, Mariasandra Mariani thought she
could not take it anymore. Her captors were holding her in a landscape
of black granite in northern Mali, which amplified the suffocating heat.
When the wind blew, it felt as if someone were holding a blow dryer
inches from her skin. She spent all day next to a bucket of water,
sponging herself to try to keep cool.
told her guard that her modest family, which grows olives in the hills
above Florence, did not have the money, and that her government refused
to pay ransoms. Her captor reassured her.
governments always say they don’t pay,” he told Ms. Mariani. “When you
go back, I want you to tell your people that your government does pay.
They always pay.”
Robert F. Worth and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington. Sheelagh McNeill in New York contributed research.
A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror.