This summer two dozen American commandos swooped into northern Syria, breaking numerous laws, in an effort to save James Foley and others being held by the Islamic State (IS). The soldiers raided an oil refinery controlled by the militants, but found no hostages—they had been moved. The daring rescue attempt shows the lengths to which America will go to save the lives of its citizens. But Foley's ultimate fate shows the limits.
When his captors demanded a multi-million-dollar ransom earlier this month in return for his release, the American government declined.
On August 19th IS put out a video showing one of its members beheading the journalist.
America has since come under fire for not paying the ransom, leaving many answering the question "Why did the US government refuse to pay the ransom?" - especially since the cost of a top-secret operation can't have been cheap.
I recently read a fascinating article written by Adjoa Anyimadu, a research associate at Chatham House, regarding the logic behind the US/UK's refusal to pay ransom for their citizens.
The main take away from her article is summarised below:
"Of course, for the families and friends of hostages, bringing back their loved ones is deemed worth any price. But for governments that take strong foreign policy positions on issues overseas, there is a need to weigh up the political consequences of allowing funds to fall into the hands of groups that intend to use money for violent or criminal ends."
Do you think governments should pay ransom?