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Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Paying the kidnappers

I had a disagreement last week with my future sister-in-law (FSIL) about paying kidnappers to release hostages. We had been talking about the release of the Italian journalist from capture and subsequent near death experience at the hands of US soldiers. I mentioned that her captors had actually told her that she needed to watch out for the Americans because they didn't want her released.

Why didn't the Americans want her released?

Because in order to get her released the Italian government supposedly paid $10 million. I don't know whether that is true or not, but I believe it. This journalist is not the first kidnap victim to be released after a ransom is paid and she won't be the last.

I mentioned that I thought paying the ransom was wrong. My FSIL disagreed vehemently. She felt very strongly that you should pay a ransom, do whatever was necessary to get your loved one released. I don't think people should pay kidnappers. Ever.
  • Paying a kidnapper rewards them for very bad behavior.
  • It shows them that there is a benefit to kidnapping and provides incentive to kidnap more people in the future.
  • It also provides funds to pursue additional kidnapping or other criminal(terrorist?) activities.
For those reasons alone I wouldn't want to pay off kidnappers. If I were kidnapped I would rather die than see them win the lottery for kidnapping me. It makes me sick to think that my being released might provide the funds for criminals to hold another 100 people hostage. Ten million dollars could certainly fund a brand new 9/11 style attack if the right group received the funds. I wouldn't want that on my head. I would rather die. Having said that, if, hypothetically, my pregnant wife were taken hostage I would have a very hard time sticking to my principles. I don't pretend to know how I would react if I were actually presented with that situation, but I truly believe it is wrong to pay off kidnappers. Needless to say my FSIL and I never came to agreement on the issue.


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