I missed this a few days back, but it’s worth reading given the frequent conversations we’ve had here about the pros and cons of paying ransoms to AQIM:
Paying ransom for hostages held by al Qaeda in Africa just encourages more kidnappings and hands the militant network a global propaganda boost, a U.S. military official said on Tuesday.
The same goes for the practice of releasing jailed militants to win freedom for hostages held by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), added the official in a briefing about U.S. military support for governments in Africa’s Sahel region.
The official said the tactics also stirred disputes between regional countries, potentially damaging fledgling cooperation on counter-terrorism, because some governments opposed paying ransoms while others appeared to tolerate the practice.
“The countries are at each other’s throats over payments. It hurts us regionally,” the official said, adding that kidnapping also deterred tourism, an important revenue source.
“It ends up that these countries will not cooperate on various issues because a country has decided to pay…(Al Qaeda) makes hay with this. They get a lot of bang for their buck.”
The official wanted to remain anonymous, Reuters says, so we can’t contact him for a follow-up, but at any rate this article offers food for thought.