No criminal charges for Americans paying ransom to terrorists

President Obama updates "Hostage" policy

Robert Nitsch Eberhard
Robert Nitsch Eberhard, a German citizen abducted and held hostage by suspected Boko Haram militants, is seen as he arrives at the Yaounde Nsimalen International airport after his release in Yaounde, Cameroon, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Germany's Foreign Ministry says a German man believed to have been kidnapped in Cameroon by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has been freed. (AP Photo/Moki Edwin Kindzeka)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) –  If someone you loved were kidnapped by a terror group overseas, would you pay ransom to get them back? Most people say they would.  However, until today, if you did pay, you’d be committing a federal crime.

“Our government, regardless of good intentions, has let them down,” said President Obama today during a hearing on a new hostage policy.

With terror groups like ISIS gaining momentum, we’ve seen more high-profile kidnappings overseas. Wednesday, President Obama announced new policies that would allow families to pay ransom to terrorists, without facing criminal charges.

“These families have already suffered enough and they should never feel ignored or victimized by their own government,” the President said.

Obama reiterated though that the government will never pay terrorists ransom, but families desperately trying to get their loved ones back, should be able to do so without fearing prosecution. His administration also said it would help open and oversee the lines of communication between captors, and families of the hostage.

Although, there is fear the new policy would encourage more kidnappings, and provide more funding for global terrorism.

“Roughly 80 hostages have been taken since 9/11, so it’s one of those things where the government doesn’t want to invite hostage taking or subsequent acts of terrorism,” said George Michael, a criminal justice professor at Westfield State University.

President Obama said  the government has an obligation to its people to at least help negotiations.

Comments are closed.