Should America Pay Ransom For Its Citizens Held As Hostages By Terrorists

Should America Pay Ransom For Its Citizens Held As Hostages By Terrorists


Terrorism has become the most terrifying human act, in particular by the fact that it is universal. Terrorism is associated with a group that uses violence to intimidate the government or the society to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. Terrorism has gained substantial ground to cause fear to the society, more so, restricting their freedom of movement. The most troubling issues on the government concerning terrorism are the issue of the hostage. Paying ransom seems to be the most efficient way to rescue the hostages. Hostages held by terror groups put the government in a dilemma on whether to stick to the set policies or act in accordance to terrorist demands. Therefore, the issue of giving ransom to save the hostages has always been controversial. This is because the government might resist negotiating, but the family of the victims might come out to save their loved through negotiations. This paper, therefore, will focus on factors limiting the government use from paying ransom for its citizens. Also, it is equally important to consider the importance of paying ransom to save the hostage. 

The U.S government should not pay ransom for its citizen held hostage. This is because the ransom paid does not in any way guarantee the safety of the remaining citizens in the country. As a result, the government that pays ransom to terrorist puts their citizens and other people at a greater risk. Refusing to pay the ransom, therefore, should be considered the most ethical practice by the incumbent government. In that respect, the United Nation Security Council in its capacity to mitigate payment of ransom made a declaration in the 2013 G-8 summit opposing the payment of ransom. As such, the most important factor to consider this issue of ransom payment is the sole purpose of the funds. There are no relevant terms that can justify the proper use of the fund rather than facilitate and initiate terror attacks.

Paying incentives and ransom to the terror groups encourages and accumulates terror activities rather than mitigates them. That is why paying ransom is more of condemning the American citizens to future captivities since terror groups have realized kidnapping as a source of funding their activities. Whether the business is done by the state or the individual in pursuit of saving the hostages, the results are more terrorism. In this argument, the U.S government’s position is that it does not negotiate with the terrorist groups. The U.S government has adopted no payment of ransom policy that has resulted in some hostages being killed by the terrorists. This, in turn, leads to massive criticism of the administration, but then, this is the policy the U.S government does not seem to have a retreat. For instance, after the death of James Foley, a journalist killed by the Islamic State, the family of the victim felt that the Obama administration did not do enough to save Foley since it refused the negotiation process. 

The money paid as ransom will see the terror groups become more superior in the future since these funds end up strengthening their accounts. According to New York Times, the revenue collected by Al Qaeda and its affiliates since 2008 is approximate $125 million. Therefore the significant use of these funds is to support the militia groups and most importantly to increase their overall strength. The countries and family members giving ransom as the way to rescue the victim could be one of the leading causes of unending terrorism. Releasing jailed terrorist as part of negotiation deal is another form of negotiation which does not involve money, but it is another significant threat to the national security. 

However, some analysts argue that the U.S should reconsider and restructure the terrorism policies to allow negotiation for the sake of the victim’s family. This is because the move to deny kidnappers ransom does not deter them from kidnapping. Also, the U.S government might be in this war alone as some countries hold talks and negotiation in pursuit of releasing the hostages. Also if the U.S government bails out some banks, it does not seem right to bail its citizen from terror groups. For instance, France has paid $58 million since 2008 for the release of French citizens. This is the most exorbitant ransom paid by one nation since 2008. 


Every government should adhere to no payment of ransom policy to mitigate the increased terror superiority. No payment of ransom by the government should, therefore, be considered as the most ethical principle to be followed. This policy should not be underscored in whatever cost as it minimizes the strength of terror groups by denying their funding. Despite some failure to rescue the hostages, I think the government should stick to the raids rather than negotiating with the terrorist. Other countries should also adhere to this policy so that the U.S victims do not feel disadvantaged compared to those in European countries.