Can we increase the cost of acquiring hostages?

is there a realistic way for the West to increase the cost of Middle Eastern terrorists acquiring hostages?

My fantasy scenario involves the travel bans to all Middle Eastern countries for the purposes of journalism or humanitarian aid.

But that doesn’t exclude travel for other purposes (such as business).

Is there anything else that can be done to raise the cost of capturing Western hostages? Or is this a hopeless cause?

I couldn’t think of a better or faster way to increase the popularity of terrorist organizations.

We can find and kill the captors, and their families and friends, and bomb the country they operate out of back to the stone age. Unfortunately even more reasonable measures can increase the cost to us. So far, escalation hasn’t worked out well.

Another possibly radical idea: taking the fangs out of the beheading videos by not reporting them. No media attention at all.

It’s unlikely the media will agree to do this internally, so can the government put pressure on them not to report such events?

Or is that such gross violation of freedom of the press that it can’t be done, not even as a potentially powerful anti-terrorism tool?

To add to my comment above, I remember being quite shocked when the first guy was beheaded. With this third guy, it was still gut wrenching but much less shocking, I suppose some callousness has been developed. Perhaps ISIS’s beheading campaign will lose effectiveness on its own.

That is a cure far worse than the disease. You should already know what such a power would be used for: to cover up the wrongdoing of the government itself.

Withholding food and medicine from the poor and censoring the news.
Whose side are you on, again?

The United States has a population of about 320 million people. Every year very bad things happen to millions or tens of millions of them; so why should we be particularly concerned about the stupid idiots who visit places the government has warned them from going to?

I must say I’m impressed by the answers, not necessarily for contributing to the discussion as it relates to making hostage acquisition, or the associated payoff more difficult.

But instead, in your ability to reframe my posts and perhaps my intentions as nefarious in some way.

Guys, you may disagree with my ideas, but I ask you show some basic respect in your responses. Many of you are much wiser than me when it comes to geopolitical strategy, and I consider my questions to be more for probing purposes for my own benefit, than any kind of argument for/against.

Most of the people captured seem to be aid workers or journalists. That doesn’t seem that idiotic.

I’m a bit puzzled by the OP, which seems to be skirting around the issue. What, exactly, has so far been the cost of acquiring hostages? What does that mean?

On the other hand, so far, all the ISIL has done is to behead a few people, quickly and relatively painlessly. What happens when we start getting videos of people actually being tortured in the classical sense of the word, like having all their skin peeled off slowly. You see, they can also increase the cost of America’s refusal to pay ransom.

Is it this kind of escalation you are talking about? Watch and see that they can do to captured US forces.

I recall this as vividly as if it were yesterday. Right after the shock and awe invasion of Iraq, I was watching Brian Lamb take calls on CSpan. One very intelligent sounding man called, and in very clear measured tones, he simply said “There will be Hell to pay for this”. We are holding Hell, of our own making, by the tail.

If ISIL disappeared tomorrow morning, the reason for its existence would still be there, and that vacuum would be filled…

They may not have have been idiots, but they should have been aware as the dangers as well as anyone, being on the ground and all. They were gambling with their lives and they lost. Dying is one of the risks of going into a war zone, and they assumed that risk.

Come on, Bozuit. Everybody knows it’s stupid to pay attention to things that happen in other countries. America, fuck yeah!

From what I’ve seen, they were aware. Journalists and aid workers don’t go to regions like this because they’re unaware of the risks. They know the risks and believe they are worth taking to help people and tell the world the truth about what’s happening.

The best policy would be:

  1. No ransom, no giving in to demands. Make hostage-for-ransom futile.
  2. Hunt the terrorists down, 1972 Munich Olympics Operation Wrath of God style.

The easiest way to make it cost more is to make it pay less. Right now, several European nations are complicit in paying out for hostages. If it costs 10 dudes a month to track down, abduct, torture and interogate a foreigner, that’s pretty reasonable if it pays $10m for your efforts. If it pays nothing, that’s a lot of cost.

The US probably has enough financial might that we could fine those nations for anyone who was kidnapped and released - on the supposition that those released were paid for. That will mean that everyone captured will be killed, but it also means that fewer will be kidnapped, terrorists will receive less money, and over time fewer people are killed.

That would be cool, but where will we find a Liam Neeson who can pass as an Arabic person?

Yes, like the USA isn’t seen as enough of an imperialistic bully worldwide.

This is the knee jerk response to any suggestion that would make terrorists mad/sad. Kinda like “Don’t look the jock in the eye or he’ll beat you up”.

The only way to appease folks with this mindset is to “Not do anything to make them more upset. Condemn them on TV and work with other Arab nations to denounce terrorist activities.”

I don’t think that’s any different from the existing policy. The U.S. tried to rescue Foley, for example, but it’s not that easy to do it.

My choice
Con: Seen as an imperialist
Plus: Saves lives

Your choice
Plus: Popular with others
Con: People are murdered

Do you want to run your choice by me again?