On Tuesday, ISIS terrorists beheaded American journalist James Foley. President Obama responded by bombing the fourth green during his long vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. He also lectured ISIS on the true meaning of Islam: “ISIL speaks for no religion…ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings….One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.”
The faculty-lounge insult approach has proved ineffective.
ISIS is now threatening to kill journalist Steven Sotloff. They reportedly hold two other Americans as well. And they will undoubtedly seek to kidnap more Americans in an attempt to leverage President Obama should the Obama administration fail to act with overwhelming force against ISIS.
There are now reports that ISIS offered to release Foley in exchange for $100 million. According to The New York Times:
The group pressed the United States to provide a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release, according to a representative of his family and a former hostage held alongside him. The United States — unlike several European countries that have funneled millions to the terror group to spare the lives of their citizens — refused to pay.
That position would have been more credible – ISIS would likely think less of its strategy of kidnapping US citizens for ransom, either political or monetary – if the Obama administration had not traded five Taliban commanders for alleged deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl just three months ago. At the time, commentators worried that such deals provided impetus to terrorist groups to kidnap Americans. Obviously, Foley was kidnapped long before Bergdahl’s release – but the Obama administration was reportedly negotiating with the Taliban over Bergdahl long before Foley was kidnapped in 2012.
The five Taliban commanders released in exchange for Bergdahl are precisely the type of terrorists committed to acts like those of ISIS. According to the Washington Post, Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, the former Taliban interior minister, helped create the Taliban; Mullah Mohammad Fazl, former senior commander in the Taliban, allegedly “supervised the killing of thousands of Shiite Muslims between 1998 and 2001”; Mullah Norullah Noori was reportedly “involved in the Shiite massacre”; Abdul Haq Wasiq was a sort of central hub for terror as deputy chief of intelligence for the Taliban; Mohammed Nabi Omari worked with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
With ISIS and al Qaeda now having unified in their quest to kill Americans, there is little doubt that kidnapping more Americans will be at the top of the priority list.
Incompetence with regard to trading with terrorists for hostages has been a hallmark not just of the Obama administration, but of many Western countries over the past few years. Israel recently released 1,000 Palestinian terror prisoners in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, prompting Hamas to seek the kidnapping of as many Israelis as possible. As Joshua Keating of Slate points out, European countries routinely deal with terrorists. Add America to that group – except, oddly, in the case of Foley.
The Obama administration revealed yesterday that it launched a rescue attempt by Special Forces, but that the operation failed. Such operations are commendable. In retrospect, it would have been just as commendable not to turn over the world’s worst terrorists in exchange for a hostage, given the fact that such terrorists happily slit the throats of kidnapped Americans once released.