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January 1, 2006
Open Season On Hostage Appeasers In Yemen

A pattern appears to have developed among hostage-takers in the Middle East -- a growth in market-based decisions, if you will. Yemeni tribesman have discovered that it pays to kidnap people whose governments cut deals with terrorists in order to free hostages. The latest example comes just hours after the Germans negotiated the release of a former diplomat and his family. Now tribesman have kidnapped a group of five Italians and expect the Yemeni government to negotiate their release:

Tribesmen kidnapped five Italians in northern Yemen on Sunday, a day after the government negotiated the release of five Germans held hostage, security officials said.

The Italians were kidnapped just hours after Yemen's president pledged to hunt down the "outlaws" taking hostages.

The Italians were seized in the northern province of Ma`rib, security officials said. The kidnappers belonged to the al-Zaydi tribe and wanted the government to release eight tribal members detained in connection with disputes with another tribe, police and tribal officials said.

Italy's Foreign Ministry said it had activated "all useful channels" to verify the kidnappings. Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini was monitoring the developments.

The abductions came a day after the release of a former top German diplomat and his family, who were held along with three Yemeni assistants for three days in eastern Shabwa province. The kidnappers had demanded that the government release five members of their al-Abdullah bin Dahha tribe who are standing trial for allegedly killing two members of the rival tribe in October.

Let's recall the history of both nations when it comes to dealing with kidnappers and terrorists. Germany just negotiated with Iraqi terrorists to win the release of Susanne Osthoff. It turned out that Osthoff didn't exactly pine for the safer havens of Germany, and opted instead to stay in Iraq. Meanwhile, they gave Hezbollah terrorist and murderer of American naval diver Michael Stethem, Mohammed Ali Hamadi, a free flight to Beirut instead of the US. What did Germany get for its trouble? It won a reputation for being a soft touch and saw more of its citizens get targeted as a result.

As for the Italians, while they have been resolute in keeping their commitment with troops in Iraq, they have proven much less resolute about eschewing negotiations with terrorist kidnappers. The Italians paid off the Iraqi terrorists with a reputed multi-million-dollar ransom to free leftist reporter Giuliana Sgrena, who then got shot when the Italians failed to coordinate her extraction with the Americans or even with each other.

Now both nations have to deal with the inevitable lesson that they taught the terrorists -- that when it comes to attacking German and Italian civilians abroad, crime pays, and so do they.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 1, 2006 9:24 AM

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