South Korean Ransom Money is Killing Americans

The reported $10 million in ransom paid to the Taliban kidnappers to secure the release of 21 South Korean Christian missionaries held hostage last summer is being used to buy weapons that are killing Americans in Afghanistan.

South Korea has repeatedly denied claims by Afghan officials that it paid cash to secure the release in August of 21 Christian volunteers who were held for nearly six weeks.

But in a recent meeting, three Taliban fighters involved in the conflict with the British in Helmand province said that $10 million cash handed over in two instalments had been used to boost operations in Afghanistan and abroad.

"It was a God-sent opportunity," said Mullah Hezbollah, 30. "It has helped us to multiply our stockpile of weapons and explosives to wage battle for at least a year or so."

He said the money had been paid in August, shortly before the Taliban's fugitive spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, ordered Operation Nusrat (victory), an offensive against coalition troops which ran throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which finished last week. During the operation, four British soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan, including Major Roberts.

"We were really concerned when we received orders to launch Operation Nusrat, because we had hardly any funds to buy weapons to carry out such a major offence," said Mullah Hezbollah. Thanks to the ransom payments, however, the operation proceeded with "full vigour".
In addition to being able to purchase weapons, the Taliban is using the cash to train terrorists who will operate in Great Britain and the United States, according to the Telegraph article.
 
It's not the first time ransom has been paid for hostages in Afghanistan. The French reportedly paid the Taliban an unknown amount for the release of two of their aid workers last year. But the size of the ransom paid by the South Korean government has obviously been a financial shot in the arm to the Taliban and their efforts to over throw the government.

We can sympathize with the impossible position of the South Korean government whose support for the war in Afghanistan is very unpopular and who found themselves in the midst of a political crisis as a result of the hostage taking. The Taliban turned the screws on the South Koreans by murdering two of the hostages while threatening to kill all of them for the crime of trying to spread Christianity in Afghanistan.

The fact that we sympathize with them does not mean we should agree with their decision nor does it mean we shouldn't protest strenously when any nation pays terrorists for the privilege of kidnapping one of their nationals.

In a democracy, it is very hard to look a family in the eye and tell them that their loved one is being abandoned "for the greater good" of not encouraging future kidnappings or paying ransom that will only kill other citizen's loved ones. Especially when a free press makes it impossible to make that argument without having the government sound like a bunch of heartless monsters.

But ultimately, that is the solution. Refusing to make the terrorist's kidnappings pay dividends is the only chance they will stop.  Whether any nation is really strong enough to stick to that policy in the face of frantic relatives and a media feeding frenzy is another story.

The reported $10 million in ransom paid to the Taliban kidnappers to secure the release of 21 South Korean Christian missionaries held hostage last summer is being used to buy weapons that are killing Americans in Afghanistan.

South Korea has repeatedly denied claims by Afghan officials that it paid cash to secure the release in August of 21 Christian volunteers who were held for nearly six weeks.

But in a recent meeting, three Taliban fighters involved in the conflict with the British in Helmand province said that $10 million cash handed over in two instalments had been used to boost operations in Afghanistan and abroad.

"It was a God-sent opportunity," said Mullah Hezbollah, 30. "It has helped us to multiply our stockpile of weapons and explosives to wage battle for at least a year or so."

He said the money had been paid in August, shortly before the Taliban's fugitive spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, ordered Operation Nusrat (victory), an offensive against coalition troops which ran throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which finished last week. During the operation, four British soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan, including Major Roberts.

"We were really concerned when we received orders to launch Operation Nusrat, because we had hardly any funds to buy weapons to carry out such a major offence," said Mullah Hezbollah. Thanks to the ransom payments, however, the operation proceeded with "full vigour".
In addition to being able to purchase weapons, the Taliban is using the cash to train terrorists who will operate in Great Britain and the United States, according to the Telegraph article.
 
It's not the first time ransom has been paid for hostages in Afghanistan. The French reportedly paid the Taliban an unknown amount for the release of two of their aid workers last year. But the size of the ransom paid by the South Korean government has obviously been a financial shot in the arm to the Taliban and their efforts to over throw the government.

We can sympathize with the impossible position of the South Korean government whose support for the war in Afghanistan is very unpopular and who found themselves in the midst of a political crisis as a result of the hostage taking. The Taliban turned the screws on the South Koreans by murdering two of the hostages while threatening to kill all of them for the crime of trying to spread Christianity in Afghanistan.

The fact that we sympathize with them does not mean we should agree with their decision nor does it mean we shouldn't protest strenously when any nation pays terrorists for the privilege of kidnapping one of their nationals.

In a democracy, it is very hard to look a family in the eye and tell them that their loved one is being abandoned "for the greater good" of not encouraging future kidnappings or paying ransom that will only kill other citizen's loved ones. Especially when a free press makes it impossible to make that argument without having the government sound like a bunch of heartless monsters.

But ultimately, that is the solution. Refusing to make the terrorist's kidnappings pay dividends is the only chance they will stop.  Whether any nation is really strong enough to stick to that policy in the face of frantic relatives and a media feeding frenzy is another story.