According to ABC News’ report on Sunday, U.S. authorities will no longer be required to prosecute the families of American hostages who choose to communicate with kidnappers, pay ransoms or raise funds in order to be able to do so.
The Obama administration was prompted into making some drastic changes in the light of protests from the families of the hostages. It would mean a radical turnabout in U.S. hostage policy if the recommendations of the National Counterterrorism Center advisory group gathered by the White House will be approved.
Hostages’ families were interviewed, including the family of journalist James Foley, recently killed by fighters from the Islamic State military.
According to Foley’s mother Diane, she and her husband were repeatedly told by officials from President Barack Obama’s administration that they are not allowed to try and raise money to pay the ransom as it was illegal and punishable after facing prosecution. These threats were denied when Obama’s office was confronted.
ABC News’ report said that the new rules will protect any family member of an American individual held hostage overseas, and jail or prosecution will no longer be the norm for attempting to mediate the release of a loved one.
During one of the interviews, the family of U.S. contractor Warren Weinstein, kidnapped in 2011 by Al Qaeda and taken to Pakistan, confirmed they paid a $250,000 ransom in order to make sure he was released.
According to the family’s spokesperson, they did everything in their power to contact those with the authority of finding and rescuing him – and were as confused as any other ordinary American family who has no idea how one should react.
When governmental advice from authorities who deal with this on a regular basis said there’s nothing they are legally allowed to do, the family said they were disappointed about the rules in place which ultimately proved successful. The family did not disclose the sort of advice they received from the U.S. authorities.
After finding out about the possibility of change when it comes to dealing with kidnappings, Diane Foley said she supported it in an official discussion from last week. She said in a statement that “there’s a lot that needs to be fixed,” as no family should feel helpless and hopeless in such unfortunate situations.
However, there are some doubts about the benefits of this new rule; according to Richard A. Clarke, a former U.S. counterterrorism official, removing the ban on ransom payments would only encourage kidnappers to take even more hostages.
Image Source: New York Post