Two German hostages in the Philippines are safe from beheading thanks to a German government envoy handing over a large ransom to an al-Qaeda affiliate. As Deutsche Welle reports:
Al Kataib, a man who described himself as an associate of militant spokesman, Abu Rami, said in a telephone call to reporters in Zamboanga City that the group got a portion of the 250 million Philippine pesos ($5.56 million) they had demanded by Friday and “would not touch” the German they had threatened to behead[….]German government sources told Reuters that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had sent a special envoy to the Philippines to negotiate the deal. Envoy Ruediger Koenig had arrived in Manilla on Thursday evening, according to the sources.According to a local radio station, DXRZ, the hostages – a 72-year-old German man along with his female 55-year-old partner – had been freed, German news agency dpa reported, adding that this had not been verified.
While the sources so far have not disclosed exact figures this is just the latest example of a worrying trend. As the New York Times reported in July, European governments have paid tens of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda affiliates in the past year alone, and kidnapping European tourists for ransom is a large, and increasing, source of funding for terrorist groups. While the adage of “not negotiating with terrorists” is not an absolute one– witness the Bowe Bergdahl trade– it’s difficult to see the wisdom in acceding to the demands of terrorists on such a routine basis.Part of this, of course, is that Europeans travel overseas more often than Americans, and are therefore more likely to be kidnapped in the first place. But as we’ve noted before, the perverse result of these payments is that Europeans are now being specifically targeted. In America, the standard assumption is that hostages should be rescued by the military. And although France and Germany have successfully carried out hostage rescue missions in the past, it’s troubling that the European motto seems to be “millions for tribute, not one cent for defense.”