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Europe pays ½ ransom, but hostages die

March 21, 2012

A news report indicated that U.K., Italy, or both contributed toward a ransom down payment for the release of a Briton and an Italian from a jihadist group in Nigeria.

After the down payment, British special forces attempted to free the abductees.  Unfortunately, the jihadists murdered the two non-Muslim Europeans during the raid.

Now the hostages are dead, and some of the jihadists who were not detained in the raid may have made off with the down payment money.  If you need another reason why we should not negotiate with terrorists or why ransom demands should not be paid, now you have one.

From the Guardian on Mar. 10:

Nigerian kidnappers ‘received ransom downpayment’

Extremists given part of ransom before failed attempt to rescue British and Italian hostages, agency reports

Ransom money was paid to the Islamic extremists holding British and Italian hostages in Nigeria before British special forces tried to rescue them from their compound, a news agency has claimed.

Part of a €1.2m ransom was paid to release hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, who were killed during the raid on Thursday which sparked a diplomatic row.

The ransom talks, in which both British and Italian officials had participated, began with a request for €5m and the release of prisoners, the Mauritanian agency reported, quoting sources close to the extremists. During the talks, questions were sent to the kidnappers for the hostages to answer about their families to prove they were still alive.

The British took a tougher line in negotiations than the Italians and demands eventually settled on €1.2m and no prisoner release, it is alleged. After a downpayment, British and Nigerian operatives were able to follow the extremists back to their hideout, setting up the raid.

The Italian foreign ministry declined to comment on the report. The Italians protested that London failed to inform them of the raid until it was under way President Giorgio Napolitano calledBritain’s unilateral action “inexplicable”.

Operatives from Britain’s elite Special Boat Service and Nigerian soldiers surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout on Wednesday, a day before the firefight in which McManus and Lamolinara were killed, the Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported on Saturday. Quoting a Nigerian journalist, Ahmad Salkida, the paper said that, once surrounded, the kidnappers asked to be able to flee the hideout but their request was turned down by soldiers, who demanded they surrender. The kidnappers refused and the raid got under way.

The wife of one of the guards holding the hostages said on Saturday the two men were taken into a lavatory and shot dead during the rescue attempt.

The woman, who gave her name only as Hauwa and said she was 31, cried into her hands as she spoke to Reuters. Hauwa said bullets were fired into the room where she and her husband were staying, killing him.

“After that, there were about six men who came out of the house with the two hostages,” she said. “They came into our wing of the compound, pushed the captives into the toilet and just shot them. I screamed.”

Nigerian authorities have detained five Islamist militants suspected of involvement in the kidnapping. Two of the men were arrested before the rescue attempt and three at the compound where the raid took place.

Italian secret service officials were first alerted to the raid by British counterparts at 10.15am on Thursday, Corriere della Sera reported. They, in turn, informed Italian PM Mario Monti 15 minutes later. By 12.30, the UK ambassador to Italy, Christopher Prentice, was holding talks with Italian government officials to update them on the operation.

British government officials have said Italy had been told of the possibility of a raid and Corriere della Sera said Italian defence minister Giampaolo Di Paola had been informed the week before that special forces had been deployed to the area.

But politicians across the political spectrum in Italy have demanded to know why Rome was not warned that the raid was about to take place, calling it a “slap in the face”.

Italy’s predilection for negotiating with kidnappers instead of rescuing hostages through force was shown in Afghanistan in 2007, when it released Taliban prisoners in return for the freeing of an Italian journalist…

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