Just as we thought, the Sgrena story will not go away. She still contends that she may have been targeted by the US forces intentionally. The MSM and foreign press still trumpet her story to the world. While all this makes for good drama, it ignores the obvious. Taking a hard look at the facts, the Italians must be blamed for Sgrenaâ€™s predicament.
Fact: Paying ransoms only encourages more hostage situations.
Although the US would invert the world to reclaim our hostages, the policy has always been to ignore ransom demands. As an intelligent people, we realize the practice of paying ransom only places more of our countrymen in jeopardy. There has been no American taken hostage in months.
The Italians are a prime example of this policy in action. Although the Italians refuse to confirm, ransom was paid for two female Italian aid workers in September 2004. The Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, killed in the Sgrena incident also facilitated their release. As with Sgrena, rumors flew that $1 million was paid for each of them. It was no surprise that another Italian woman was kidnapped months later. In acknowledgement, the Italians ordered all their reporters out of Iraq after Sgrenaâ€™s abductions saying more abductions were imminent.
Fact: Every foreigner in Iraq knows he or she has placed themselves in danger.
With the publicity concerning hostages and beheading, every foreign-born man and woman in Iraq realizes they are a potential target. If they remain in the country, they either welcome the extra money they are making, are adrenaline junkies or truly have a mission in which they believe the risk is worth the outcome. The Coalition forces cannot protect those that operate outside safe zones.
Fact: The Italians facilitate hostage negotiations independent of the US.
The US condemns the practice of paying ransoms. The Italians, knowing this, do not inform the US when they are knuckling under to terrorists demands. A recent Washington Times article confirmed this disconnect. Our troops had no way of knowing these negotiations were underway. Therefore, they couldnâ€™t possibly have known Sgrena was in the car approaching the checkpoint. She had just been released by her captors and was being taken immediately to the airport.
Ten Italians have been kidnapped by Iraqi terrorists in the past year. This number is disproportionately high compared to that of US or British hostages — both of which refuse to negotiate with kidnappers. Even Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, admits they may have encouraged the kidnappers. Monday, he told the Il Messaggero newspaper: “We have to rethink our strategy in dealing with kidnappings.” According to a recent Reuters report, Italy may have paid $15 million in ransoms to Iraqi terrorists.
Fact: Ransoms fund more terrorist activities.
Not only do these ransoms encourage hostage-taking, these payments fund additional terrorist activities. These funds will be used to obtain weapons and explosives for use against the US & Coalition troops, as well as the Iraqi citizens. The US realizes this; and, it is the secondary reason behind the rejection of ransom demands. As recently as February, our intelligence officials began speculating the Iraqi insurgency was experiencing financial difficulties. An increase in non-terrorist crime seems to signal a need for additional funds by the terrorists.
In the past 7 months, Italy supplied the insurgency with at least $3 million for weaponry to use against our troops. We should be the ones shouting our anger from the rooftops. Our sons, daughter, husbands and wives, potentially face more danger while stationed in Iraq. They face this additional danger because an anti-American Italian journalist was taken hostage. They face well-funded terrorists because Italy â€“ one of our Coalition partners â€“ caved in to terrorist demands.
Yes, one brave Italian intelligence officer lost his life while obtaining Sgrenaâ€™s freedom. But, how many Americans and Iraqis will lose their lives as a result of the $1 million dollar ransom? For that matter, how many souls have already lost their lives due to the $2 million paid for the two Italian aid workers in September? We will never know the answer; and, the media will never be able to report it. No intelligent adult can realistically believe the $1 million for Sgrena (or the total $15 million in Italian ransoms) will go towards blankets and baby formula.