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Americans at Risk By US Allies’ Ransoms to Terrorists: Report

American hostages are at greater risk of being murdered or tortured because some European nations pay multimillion-dollar ransoms to terrorist groups, a think tank warned

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    Americans at Risk By US Allies’ Ransoms to Terrorists: Report
    Nicole Tung/AP Images
    Journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, in 2012.

    American hostages are more likely to be killed or tortured because some European nations pay multimillion-dollar ransoms to terrorist groups, a think tank has warned.

    The U.S. does not pay ransoms to banned militant organizations, a principle it has stuck to despite several high-profile beheadings of Americans by ISIS.

    Between 200 and 300 Americans are kidnapped by criminals and terrorist groups each year. Many international laws and agreements ban paying ransoms to terrorist groups, but several European nations have reportedly paid millions of dollars to get their citizens home safely.

    This may save lives in the short term but could fund future terrorist acts and spur more kidnappings, the report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute says.

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    To prevent this, RUSI recommended governments either enforce a ban on all ransom payments, allow the private sector to negotiate and pay ransoms, or allow private payments under monitoring by governments and international institutions.