Counter-Terrorism: Italian Rules


April 17, 2007: Italy is taking a lot of heat for the way they pressured the Afghan government to release five captured Taliban, in order to get an Italian journalist released from Taliban captivity last month. In response, the Italians are calling for international guidelines, supervised by the UN, on how to deal with these hostage situations. This is seen as another cynical move by the Italians, who have long been willing to make deals with terrorists, as long as it was in Italys interest.

The recent Italian effort in this area has resulted in two French citizens and at least twelve Afghans being kidnapped. The Afghan government has already said it will not repeat the mistake it made in dealing with the Italians. So the new bunch of captives are in danger of being killed, since the Taliban generally don't release captives when the ransom demanded is not forthcoming. The Taliban also have their standards.

The recriminations and finger-pointing in Italy has revealed that the government paid a $2 million ransom for another Italian reported kidnapped in Afghanistan last year. That buys a lot of hired guns, and gets a lot of Afghan and NATO troops killed. But the Italians don't care. The Italians know full well that the best policy is no ransom, no negotiation, and go after the kidnappers. But this is politically unacceptable in Italy, where many leftists are sympathetic to the Taliban, and don't support using force against them. As the old saying goes, all politics is local.


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