This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Negotiating With Islamist Terrorists

"You [Abu Sayyaf, Philippine-based Islamist jihadi group linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] have chosen only the language of force, and we will speak to you only in that language."
Brig.-Gen. Allan Arrajado, Jolo Island, Philippines
The April 6 clash with Abu Sayyaf on the island of Basilon was the largest single-day combat loss by government forces in Mindanao this year [AP File Photo]
The religiously Roman Catholic Philippines has struggled for years with the separatist ambitions of a minority Muslim Filipino population on Jolo Island, a heavily forested mountainous region of the country. The jihadi group formerly aligned with al-Qaeda and more recently identifying themselves with ISIL has all the trappings of a group of violent thugs covering themselves with the religious mantel of Islamist jihad.

Their business is to murder and to pillage, and for relief from those heavy duties, kidnapping of foreigners and Philippine citizens alike for profit. Europeans abducted by Abu Sayyaf are usually freed on receipt of the demanded ransom. Unless they're from Britain which has a rock solid policy of having no truck with terrorist demands, or the United States which also does not fund terrorist action through transferring funds for the release of its nationals.

Militant Video via The Associated Press
A militant video shows Canadians John Ridsdel, right, and Robert Hall being held captive. AP

Several days ago, Canadian former journalist and oil and mining executive, John Ridsdel became one of those unfortunate abductees who, no ransom forthcoming, was summarily beheaded as threatened. Although a representative of the government of Canada was involved in negotiations for the release of four captives of his group, two Canadians, a Filipino and a Norwegian, agreement evaded, the deadline passed, and Mr. Ridsdel became another gruesome statistic of jihad.

His head, stuffed in a plastic bag, was tossed from a motorcycle where children were playing in Joli city near the town hall. His torso, yet to be officially identified, was discovered in a forested area. "Our primary objective is to rescue the [remaining] hostages and ensure the safety of the civilian population", said Philippine President Benigno Aquino, adding that the murder was meant to terrorize all Filipinos.

Handout   A poster showing Rudullan Sahiron, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group responsible for the murder of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel in the Philippines.

"[The situation] is a problem because of the sizeable force surrounding [Radullan] Sahiron [leader of the 400-strong Abu Sayyaf group] and the captives, but it is also an opportunity because smashing these forces is within our grasp. What has to be of utmost importance is neutralizing the criminal activities of Abu Sayyaf", stated Mr. Aquino, whose government will not under any circumstances negotiate with the jihadists.

They point out that to do so is to fund terrorist activities and to encourage them to keep on abducting people to extract additional hostage rescue funding from nations who surrender to their demands. "Aside from state sponsorship of terrorism, ransom payments are the greatest source of terrorist funding today. These ransom payments are used to fuel the whole cycle of terrorist activities, including inflicting indiscriminate harm", noted David S. Cohen, U.S. Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"Improving the international effort against kidnapping-for-ransom is an urgent challenge", he stated. His Treasury Department calculated that ransom payments to terror groups added up to $165- million in total for the period 1998 to 2014. Two years ago an investigation undertaken by the New York Times showed that al-Qaeda and its affiliates had received approximately 125 million of that total alone, most of it coming from European governments.

A United Nations analysis estimated separately that ISIL had earned a likely $45-million from ransoms for the release of kidnapped foreigners just in 2014. Adding substantially to their income from bank robbery, extortion, oil and antiquities smuggling and other rackets. UN member states were directed to prevent the payment of ransoms through a 2009 resolution passed by the UN Security Council.

An Al Jazeera investigative unit exposed a number of Italian concessions and coverups when a Syrian group was paid around $4-million for the release of an Italian and a Belgian journalist. Another $11-million went to the Syrian al-0Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra for the release of two aid workers, while $525,000 was paid in ransom for the release of a man and woman who had been kidnapped by Somali pirates. Kidnapping represents an easy income for Islamist terrorists.

The fact that some of those kidnapped were not exchanged for cold hard cash, but instead were used as horrific props in the Islamist propaganda machine appalled a world not yet grown accustomed to seeing people cowering in fear before having their heads sawn apart from their bodies. Not a clean sweep by a sharp scimitar, but the prolonged agony of unspeakable pain and gory aftereffect, the penalty of being an American journalist or aid worker.

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