European governments are funding Al-Qaeda by paying ransoms for hostage releases, New York Times investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize Finalist Rukmini Callimachi claims.
“Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al-Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe,” the newspaper’s report says.
According to unnamed senior diplomats questioned by the newspaper, the now well-rehearsed ritual started as early as 2003, when the German Government handed funds budgeted as humanitarian aid for the poor of Mali to a group of Islamic extremists holding 32 European hostages.
The kidnapping revenues that Al-Qaeda received from European governments and state-controlled companies since 2008 are estimated by the newspaper at no less than $125 million, with half of the sum coming during the last year.
“The more these organizations believe they can benefit from taking hostages in, and getting paid off, the worse it is over the long run for everybody,” the Washington Post quoted US Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen as saying.
The current ransom investigations follow last week’s unconfirmed reports that a £140,000 ($237,000) ransom was paid for British teacher Mike Harvey held hostage in Yemen for five months.
The number seems relatively low when compared to the $33.5 million that the French government is believed to have paid in October 2013 for the release of four French hostages after three years in captivity in Niger.
In 2012, Cohen addressed the problem of Western countries paying ransoms to terrorist organizations in a widely cited report. According to the data compiled, the average ransom payment per hostage to groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has increased from $4.5 million to $5.4 million in just one year.
Source: RIA Novosti