Today's Independent on Sunday

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Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Paul in Saudi » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:35 pm UTC

Somehow now I feel sad and very shallow.....

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Brace » Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:49 pm UTC

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Diadem » Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:47 pm UTC

So, eh, someone was killed? What is this about? I'm checking google news, but I can't find anything that seems to explain that headline. A suicide bombing in Grozny, and some reports of a mass grave in mexico, neither of which seem to fit. Was this some very local event?

Can't find anything on the independent website either. So that's weird.
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Aceo » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:20 pm UTC

GENERATION 19: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Mambrino » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:37 am UTC

Of course, the Independent is making a statement it maybe wouldn't have otherwise made if this hasn't been ISIS and a British citizen (which is, yet again of course a pure speculation). Maybe even a sort of show about making not show. (And now I'm being cynical.)

However, I wonder if similar ...laid back is the word I believe? anyway... approach would still be advisable when reporting attacks by self-titled terrorists, school shooters and like, who seek publicity. At least this way there wouldn't be iconic images that could serve as an inspiration for others, and also it might even carry certain "we shall not let ourselves to be terrorized" attitude.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:30 am UTC

The atmosphere around most of my political discussions before ISIS started beheading Americans / Brits was that we could sit around and ignore them. But with every single publicity stunt execution that they do, it seems to edge the countries stronger towards war. ISIS seems to have the opinion that the hostages they have will intimidate the US or its allies... but it seems to be having the opposite effect.

I'm beginning to hear calls for ground troop deployments from the Republicans, words that were political suicide just a few weeks ago.
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Zcorp » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:56 am UTC

The more we intervene militarily the stronger their cause has become for the last 60 years. I highly doubt their goal is to intimidate us, they want us there, as all we do is make things worse for us and better for them. They are provoking us, not intimidating us.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby addams » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:18 am UTC

That is, just, fucking horrible.
The first thought that springs to my mind is, "Don't Go There!"

The US Congress, especially the Republicans, think,
"Let's get a bunch more people in there."

It seems my mind does not work like the minds of Real Leaders.

What the Hell!
1. Get the fuck out of There!
2.Secure the Border.

(oh, fuck) Never Mind.
That's how we get those darned Walls.

I do not want the US congress to make choices for those people.
Have you seen what they have done with and to their own people?
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Angua » Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:29 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:The more we intervene militarily the stronger their cause has become for the last 60 years. I highly doubt their goal is to intimidate us, they want us there, as all we do is make things worse for us and better for them. They are provoking us, not intimidating us.

This. ISIL knows that a war will ultimately lead to more civilian casualties, and that will help their cause.
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Diadem » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:30 am UTC

How will it help their cause? Their goal is an Sunni Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. How does a war with the US (and the rest of the western world) help them. They were actually very close to their goal, they had conquered huge tracts of land, were growing very rapidly, and Iraq was in a state of near collapse. Now they are being pushed back. I don't see how their goals have been helped.

Perhaps it helps with recruitment. But not all that recruitment will go to ISIS. In fact it is more likely that ISIS itself will collapse, to be replaced be new extremist groups. But contrary to popular belief, the goal of extremist groups is not to spread extremism. That's at best a sub-goal, and that only if these new extremists share their beliefs and goals.

Also let's not forget that even if an open war with the US might help ISIS's goals in the long run, it certainly won't end well for their current leadership. And I personally have doubt about the selflessness of terrorist leaders.

It's far more likely that ISIS grew overconfident and simply bit off more then they could chew. They tried to take on the Kurds, which caused the US to jump in. Then they tried to intimidate the US, and this backfired.
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Paul in Saudi » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:38 pm UTC

"Some men just want to see the world burn."

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Soteria » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:09 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:How will it help their cause? Their goal is an Sunni Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. How does a war with the US (and the rest of the western world) help them. They were actually very close to their goal, they had conquered huge tracts of land, were growing very rapidly, and Iraq was in a state of near collapse. Now they are being pushed back. I don't see how their goals have been helped.

Perhaps it helps with recruitment. But not all that recruitment will go to ISIS. In fact it is more likely that ISIS itself will collapse, to be replaced be new extremist groups. But contrary to popular belief, the goal of extremist groups is not to spread extremism. That's at best a sub-goal, and that only if these new extremists share their beliefs and goals.

Also let's not forget that even if an open war with the US might help ISIS's goals in the long run, it certainly won't end well for their current leadership. And I personally have doubt about the selflessness of terrorist leaders.

It's far more likely that ISIS grew overconfident and simply bit off more then they could chew. They tried to take on the Kurds, which caused the US to jump in. Then they tried to intimidate the US, and this backfired.


I agree. Although I don't doubt that a number of them would think it some kind of victory to see the West collectively "bogged down" in Iraq again, I really don't think their actions make a lot of strategic sense. They already were doing well with recruitment. I don't see how getting a bunch of their members and leadership killed and losing a lot of materiel is going to help, since any gains in recruitment will be offset by losses in current numbers.

They had, and to some extent still have, a reputation built on success in open battle. Inevitably that's going to disappear if all of Europe and the US decides to send in ground troops. I think probably they just don't understand us (we certainly don't understand them), and either think we won't really send troops or that they can actually stand up and fight.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Zamfir » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:33 pm UTC

On the other hand, those videos look like they are made by people who understand the western response all too well. The videos are pitch-perfect taunts, up to the English executioner.

They are not stupid, and they clearly have some people from the west who have no trouble reading and interpreting the daily news from US sources. They must be very aware that the videos help to fire up the people in the US, and put pressure on the US leadership to start bombing, even if that leadership would prefer to keep a distance.

Perhaps they are mistaken about how well they can weather bomb runs. But I don't think they were mistaken about the likely response to the beheading videos. They must have been aware that it increased the odds of being bombed, and they made the videos anyway.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:51 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:On the other hand, those videos look like they are made by people who understand the western response all too well. The videos are pitch-perfect taunts, up to the English executioner.

They are not stupid, and they clearly have some people from the west who have no trouble reading and interpreting the daily news from US sources. They must be very aware that the videos help to fire up the people in the US, and put pressure on the US leadership to start bombing, even if that leadership would prefer to keep a distance.

Perhaps they are mistaken about how well they can weather bomb runs. But I don't think they were mistaken about the likely response to the beheading videos. They must have been aware that it increased the odds of being bombed, and they made the videos anyway.


On the other hand, the culture of ISIS is not homogenous. In fact... no culture is monolithic, but the effect is amplified even more when you have a poor command structure. IIRC, some of the bombing runs are explicitly designed to destroy central command structures and fragment ISIS further. If these guys were a bunch of hackers, they are closer to the structure of "Anonymous".

So while ISIS as a whole might not want the US to be involved in this, but it only takes one independent subgroup of ISIS to kidnap and execute an Aid Worker or Journalist. Even if the leaders of ISIS wanted the US to keep out of the area, they likely don't have the ability to control their underlings. If the lower-level ISIS members believe that they can intimidate the US, they will do so without communicating with the higher ups... and they have the physical ability to independently create these executions.

The ISIS group as a whole might not be stupid, but it only takes one stupid subgroup to commit these executions.

They had, and to some extent still have, a reputation built on success in open battle. Inevitably that's going to disappear if all of Europe and the US decides to send in ground troops. I think probably they just don't understand us (we certainly don't understand them), and either think we won't really send troops or that they can actually stand up and fight.


They likely believe that they will win against US ground troops in a "fair fight" on the ground. Of course, US Commanders aren't that stupid. Even if Air Force were ruled out, a squadron of Tanks and APCs will meet the enemy, and the technological advantage will remain supreme. My friends who have actually been deployed in Iraq note that the terrorist culture there was "Spray and Pray", because they honestly believed that Allah would guide their bullets into the hearts of their enemies. So note that there are significant cultural differences that divide us.
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby leady » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:27 pm UTC

The long term practice of all these group is the same doctrine that they used in Afganistan against the Russians, i.e. make it extremely expensive until the Empire collapses. The leaders know exactly what they are doing - the US has essentially been at war now for near on 15 years at a horrendous cost.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Zamfir » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:15 pm UTC


On the other hand, the culture of ISIS is not homogenous. In fact... no culture is monolithic, but the effect is amplified even more when you have a poor command structure. IIRC, some of the bombing runs are explicitly designed to destroy central command structures and fragment ISIS further. If these guys were a bunch of hackers, they are closer to the structure of "Anonymous".

True, that could be a factor. Though there are limits, they seem to be more than entirely separate groups that only share a name.

Those videos were high profile, they have been going on for some time. And highups inside ISIS presumably know (or have a good guess) who of them makes the videos. If most of them were opposed to taunting the US, they could shut it down.

So I'd say that there is at least some faction, the ones making the videos, who welcome American bombs. Perhaps because they are extremely brave, or overconfident, or they they think the support it generates outweighs the risk. The might be right or wrong about that. Other factions might not positively want the same, but they are not deeply opposed, or they are less conversed in western news, or they would look cowardly if they do not go along, so they let it happen.. The same logic works for democrats and republicans in the US, and elsewhere.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby elasto » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:56 pm UTC

Two other possible factors I'm not sure have been mentioned.

First, a lot of things that politicians/leaders do everywhere is really aimed at home-consumption - even their foreign policy stuff. These beheadings might not intimidate Western governments but they might sure as hell intimidate local populations such as newly occupied cities.

Second, I think I read reports of deals between ISIS and foreign governments such as Turkey. Countries like the UK and US will never negotiate in such a way but these public beheadings could tip the balance for some of the regional governments caving like Turkey - who I read handed over captured ISIS fighters in return for hostages.

(Finally it could just be down to a simple base instinct like a desire for personal fame and glory.)

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby addams » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:07 pm UTC

elasto wrote:(Finally it could just be down to a simple base instinct like a desire for personal fame and glory.)

jeeze.
Who's fame and glory?
Who's famous This Week?
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Soteria » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
They had, and to some extent still have, a reputation built on success in open battle. Inevitably that's going to disappear if all of Europe and the US decides to send in ground troops. I think probably they just don't understand us (we certainly don't understand them), and either think we won't really send troops or that they can actually stand up and fight.


They likely believe that they will win against US ground troops in a "fair fight" on the ground. Of course, US Commanders aren't that stupid. Even if Air Force were ruled out, a squadron of Tanks and APCs will meet the enemy, and the technological advantage will remain supreme. My friends who have actually been deployed in Iraq note that the terrorist culture there was "Spray and Pray", because they honestly believed that Allah would guide their bullets into the hearts of their enemies. So note that there are significant cultural differences that divide us.


They tried that in Fallujah, twice--didn't work. Maybe they saw that the Taliban had greater success in Afghanistan, and don't understand the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan? They certainly wouldn't be the only ones. You're certainly right about the "spray and pray" thing. It's not just the fighters. In some cases people who get labeled insurgents are nothing more than teens who think it's cool to empty a magazine in the general direction US troops, then run like the dickens.* Tragically, sometimes they manage to hit someone, and the return fire tends to be more accurate.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Zcorp » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:57 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:How will it help their cause? Their goal is an Sunni Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

They want a state free of western influence. Which the west won't allow, in fact most of this is about economic control over the area, it has been for - again - 60 years.

How does a war with the US (and the rest of the western world) help them.

Because the west continually displays incompetence, both in means and in execution. Every time we intervene our own country suffers and their cause grows.

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:11 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
How does a war with the US (and the rest of the western world) help them.

Because the west continually displays incompetence, both in means and in execution. Every time we intervene our own country suffers and their cause grows.


So, you're saying the west has an execution gap?

*insert terrible jokes here*

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby addams » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:39 am UTC

Yes. Terrible.
But, darkly humorous.

Contemplation of such horror brings out the GoofBall in even the most serious poster.

Besides.
There is a twisted logic to it.

Who is closing the Gap?
The US or them?
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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:10 pm UTC

This article has persuaded me that the simplest explanation is the most likely one: It's purely a cash grab.

BBC wrote:The killings of US journalists and British aid workers in Syria, and a French hiker in Algeria have highlighted the dilemma for governments over whether to pay ransoms. Should payouts be made to save lives, or do they encourage more kidnappings and fund conflict?

In May 2009, at a makeshift camp deep in the Sahara desert, a group of Islamist militants were preparing to kill a British hostage. Their prisoner, Edwin Dyer, had been abducted four months earlier with three other European tourists after they left the Festival in the Desert, the annual concert of Tuareg folk music on the Mali-Niger border.

On the morning of his death, Dyer was brought out of his tent and a militant announced that he would be killed: "Islam tells us to have no connection with the ungodly… Since this is so, the hostage will be executed in the name of God," he declared, according to an account by French journalist Serge Daniel.

A witness said Dyer was "very scared… he surely knew what to expect".

Dyer had been seized with Gabriella Barco Greiner and Werner Greiner from Switzerland, and 76-year-old Marianne Petzold, a retired teacher from Germany. But although they were kidnapped together, their fates were very different.

Petzold remembers how it began - she heard gunshots and saw two pickup trucks approaching their convoy. Tuareg tribesmen got out and shouted at her to get down in French: "I got out slowly because I didn't want to give in too easily," she says.

She lay down in the sand until the tribesmen ordered her to climb on to a truck littered with bullet shells and Kalashnikovs. As she struggled to obey, one of the men pushed her and she fell and broke her arm.

They drove all day into the desert. Petzold had already lost her glasses and now the hostages were stripped of their jewellery, watches and jackets, and told to put on the blue robes worn by Tuareg tribesmen. They were soon handed over to a different group. "Now you are prisoners of al-Qaeda," they were told. They had been sold to Islamist militants.

Their new captors knew exactly who each hostage was. "They must have had our passports before we arrived," says Petzold.

The group kept moving and, for a couple of days, stopped at a little valley at the edge of a mountainous plateau. The hostages lay on a blanket in the shade of two trees. There, they met a short, bearded man in his 40s called Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, who was described to them as one of the top commanders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Photographs were taken of the prisoners and each hostage was recorded saying: "We ask our government to free us immediately." The kidnappers' translator told Petzold not to worry and that she would soon be released.

In the days after she was taken, Petzold's family were told by the German authorities that channels of communication had been opened with the kidnappers. They verified Petzold's identity by sending questions about a dog and her family.

What happened after that is unclear. Security experts believe a payment was probably made for Petzold, though German officials have never commented on the case. But after three months in captivity, Marianne Petzold and Gabriella Greiner were released. (Greiner's husband Werner was held for another two months and released in July.) With Petzold in agony from a scorpion sting, the women began a long car ride.

Eventually Petzold saw lights in the far distance. "I then had hope," she recalls. The next thing she remembers is the spectacular sunrise the following morning. They were released the next day.

While there is no proof that Germany paid a ransom, in the case of the Swiss government which acted on behalf of the Greiners, there are official documents referring to the movement of money.

In 2009, the Swiss government denied paying any ransom for the hostages' release. "Swiss officials credited Mali President Amadou Toumani Toure with securing Werner Greiner's release and insisted Switzerland had neither negotiated nor paid a ransom for him," Agence France Presse reported at the time. But minutes of a special government meeting in Switzerland a few months later show that ministers agreed to make a payment to reimburse the costs of freeing the two Swiss citizens.

A statement from the Swiss parliamentary financial committee indicates that "the Federal Finance Delegation had approved funds of three million [Swiss] francs [$3.2m, £1.9m] that the Federal Council had previously requested in connection with the case of Swiss hostages held in Mali".

This is the first and only known official acknowledgement of any government authorising such an action, says Wolfram Lacher, a researcher on northern Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Governments usually hide "behind the secrecy that surrounds the deals", he says.

The ministers also agreed to define the payment as "diplomatic and consular protection", according to the meeting minutes.

Exactly who the money was given to is not clear, but the only condition attached was that a report be produced documenting how it was used and assessing whether anything could have been done to prevent the hostage crisis in the first place. To this day, that report has been deemed confidential and left sealed.

Ransom payments to al-Qaeda and its affiliates are a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1904 which says states should "freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities." The resolution specifies that this "shall also apply to the payment of ransoms".

And some governments, including the US and UK, adhere rigidly to a no-concession, no-payment policy.

Last month, UK Prime Minister David Cameron underlined this position when speaking about a Briton being held hostage by IS in Syria. "We won't pay ransoms to terrorists who kidnap our citizens," he said. "I know that this is difficult for families when they are the victims of these terrorists - but I'm absolutely convinced from what I've seen that this terrorist organisation, and indeed others around the world, have made tens of millions of dollars from these ransoms - and they spend that money on arming themselves, on kidnapping more people and on plotting terrorist outrages, including in our own country."

The British policy helped determine the fate of Edwin Dyer. Initially, his kidnappers demanded the UK government pay $10m (£6m) for his release, according to Serge Daniel, who interviewed local tribesmen who were present at negotiations for his book AQIM: The Kidnapping Industry.

The release of 63-year-old British teacher David Bolam was announced at the weekend - he had been held by militants in Libya since May. It is thought that money was handed over but it is not clear how much was paid or who paid it. The UK government was not involved in negotiations.

Forty-six Turks and three Iraqis who had been kidnapped in Syria were released in September. At the time Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed no ransom had been paid but it was later reported that the hostages were freed by Islamic State (IS) as part of a prisoner swap.

When they said no, AQIM lowered the amount to $6m (£3.6m) but the UK didn't budge.

The group also demanded the release of Abu Qatada, the al-Qaeda-linked radical Muslim cleric who was at the time imprisoned in Britain, saying Dyer would be executed if the demand was not met. Again, the UK refused.

A month after the release of Petzold and Gabriella Greiner, the militants killed their British hostage. Dyer's hands were tied together. He shouted. Two shots rang out. It's unclear if the shots killed Dyer. Then he was beheaded.

"Edwin didn't deserve to be killed. He was simply the wrong nationality. Had he been German, French, anything else, he would have lived," says his younger brother, Hans Dyer, a 53-year-old British schoolteacher who acted as the Dyer family's representative with hostage negotiators. "And it all came down to money in the end."

Petzold and the Greiners are by no means the only hostages who are thought to have been freed thanks to the payment of a hefty ransom. Since 2003, at least 68 Westerners have been kidnapped in the vast Sahara.

More than half of these kidnappings occurred between 2008 and 2012, according to security consultants, foreign governments and human rights groups that monitor attacks on aid workers, tourists and journalists. The data they have collected suggests ransoms totalling at least $30m (£18.3m) have been paid since 2008 in connection with these kidnappings and that the going rate for a single Western hostage in the region is now about $2m (£1.2m).

Most of these hostages were citizens of countries that are believed to have paid ransoms. Over the past six years, at least a dozen French nationals have been kidnapped in North Africa and the Sahel region, the highest number of any nationality. The majority have been freed, although two were killed, another died in captivity and one is still being held.

In that same period, at least five Spanish, four Italian, two Canadian, two Austrian, two Swiss and two German hostages have been taken. Of this group of 17, one died of natural causes in captivity and the rest were released unharmed. Nearly all of them were aid workers or tourists.

Many European governments say they don't pay ransoms, but they still find a way to make a payment without handing cash directly to kidnappers, says Vicki Huddleston, a former US ambassador to Mali: "So they paid the money. Then the governments say, 'Well, we didn't pay the money.' So did the family pay the money? Did friends pay the money? Was money taken out of aid accounts in Mali so that Mali could pay the ransom and then be reimbursed?" she asks. "It's very hidden the way it happened but nobody is released unless the ransom is paid or unless the kidnappers receive some benefit."

In 2003, the German government sent a special envoy from the Foreign Office to work with the Malian government in negotiating the release of hostages, say Huddleston. She never saw money change hands but heard that the people acting as go-betweens were taken care of: "Let's put it this way… suddenly, it was rumoured that some of the intermediaries had new Land Rovers. The cars would be a payoff," she says.

In the Middle East, ransom rates appear to be higher than in Africa. Islamic State (IS) militants initially asked for $100m (£61m) for US journalist James Foley. But people close to him believed IS would have accepted far less, possibly even $5m (£3m).

"We didn't believe the $100m demand was the final offer and we didn't think they would harm Jim because of the significant value for him. Sadly, that wasn't the case," says Philip Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, the Boston-based news organisation Foley often reported for.

When payouts are made, they undermine other hostage negotiations, says J Peter Pham, the director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center who advises US, European and African governments: "It's irresponsible on the parts of these governments. It has clearly created this moral hazard and increased the desirability to terrorists of your own citizens.

A cable from the US embassy in the Malian capital Bamako, released by Wikileaks in 2010, referred to a hostage broker, Abdousalam Ag Assalat. He apparently told the embassy that AQIM had issued a directive in late 2008 in which it offered to pay up to three million Algerian dinars ($36,000, £22,000) per head for Western hostages.

But there was an important detail - according to the cable the directive "specified that the group was not interested in American hostages, presumably because USG [US government] does not make ransom payments."

Hans Dyer has said he agrees with the policy not to pay ransoms, even though he now feels his brother was murdered, then forgotten.

Petzold says it was never confirmed that her kidnappers were paid for her release.

The AQIM commander and leader of the gang who held Petzold and Dyer hostage, Abou Zeid, was killed in Mali in 2013 during fighting with Chadian and French forces

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Re: Today's Independent on Sunday

Postby addams » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:26 am UTC

Well....
Have you given it much thought?

How do you stand on Randoms?
Do you have a Random to stand on?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.


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