Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ransoming corpses makes less sense than ransoming hostages

One of the reasons that ISIS executed James Foley was because the U.S. does not pay ransoms for its citizens who are held hostage. In fact, the U.S. even threatens family members with prosecution if they try to pay ransoms on their own as the ransom payments may constitute illegal funding of terrorist organizations under U.S. law.

So why would ISIS ever think it had the chance to sell Foley's body? All the reasons for the American policy to not pay ransoms for live hostages would apply just as much to paying ransoms for the corpses of hostages, if not moreso. The U.S. doesn't pay for hostages because it does not want encourage more hostage taking. Why would it pay if that would encourage not just hostage taking but hostage execution? And the threat of prosecution for funding terrorist organizations would apply just as much whether the family wanted to pay a ransom for a kidnapped relative or the corpse of an executed relative. If you are committed to a policy to not pay ransom, you should never pay to buy back the corpse after execution.

(via Memeorandum)