Al Qaeda has received $125 million in ransoms

I understood them to be kidnappers, but I had no idea that they were taking in this much money. Since 2008, what the NYT calls “Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates” have taken in at least $125MM and possibly as much as $165MM, receiving $66MM in the last year alone. Apparently wealthy donors are now just a sideline, and kidnapping now finances most recruitment, training and arms purchases.

Most of this money comes from certain European governments, sometimes couched as development aid; the US and Britain thus far have refused to ransom their citizens. This has meant that American and British captives have been killed, while citizens of countries that ransom have been returned alive. On the other hand, American and British travelers are now much less likely to be taken hostage, since they are less valuable.

The article leans critical of the ransom payments, but what an impossible choice to have to make. I can understand the downside of paying a ransom, but certainly, if it were my loved one being held, I’d be on Kickstarter immediately.

Does that include the pallet of Benjamins that disappeared from the US landing strip in Baghdad? Or is it ISIS who wound up looting all that?