US to negotiate with kidnappers of American hostages

Obama changes White House’s hostage policy for kidnapped Americans around world, opening ways to negotiate militant groups

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States has changed its hostage policy and decided to communicate with groups deemed as terrorists holding American, drawing criticism that the call will lead American hunt around the world.

US President Barack Obama announced the new hostage policy on Wednesday, which includes forming of an interagency “fusion cell” to help release of American hostages, mostly kidnapped by militant groups like ISIS.

The crucial part of the call comes with the decision of allowing government officials to negotiate with kidnappers, which critics argue it will encourage outlawed groups to hunt Americans.

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

Stating that families face threats of criminal prosecution if they seek ways to pay ransom to kidnappers, Obama made clear that the US government would no longer prosecute families in such situation.

"No family of an American hostage has ever been prosecuted for paying ransom for their loved one,” said Obama.

“The last thing we should ever do is to add to a family's pain with threats like that."

Obama also said the change in the US’ long-continued policy, which prevents government from negotiating with kidnappers,  will help families to feel not abandoned by the government.

"I acknowledged to them in private what I want to say publicly, that it is true that there have been times where our government, regardless of good intentions, has let them down," said Obama.

"I promised them that we can do better."

However, the Republican Speaker of House John Boehner harshly criticised Obama’s decision, warning of possible troubling consequences that Americans would face traveling around the world.

“We have had a policy in the United States for over 200 years of not paying ransom and not negotiating with terrorists,” Boehner said.

“The concern that I have is that by lifting that long-held principle you could be endangering more Americans here and overseas.”


TRTWorld and agencies