Review policies for kidnappings abroad: Obama

19-11-2014
IANS/EFE

Washington, Nov 19 US President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the policies in place to respond to the kidnapping of US citizens abroad, the White House has confirmed.

Obama Tuesday ordered the appropriate authorities -- including the Defence and State Departments, the FBI and the intelligence community -- to conduct a "comprehensive review of the US government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases, with specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection and diplomatic engagement policies", National Security Council spokesman Alistar Baskey said in a statement.

The president’s order was issued last summer, but it was made public only now in a letter from Under Secretary of Defence Christine Wormuth to Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.

In the letter, as reported by The Daily Beast, Wormuth explains the decision to conduct the review came as a result of the "increased frequency" of kidnappings of US citizens abroad, adding that its aim was to add "innovative and non-traditional solutions" to hostage-recovery efforts.

The government’s current protocols for responding to such kidnappings reject the idea of negotiating with terrorists, paying ransom or exchanging prisoners.

The news of the policy review coincided with the report of the murder of Peter Kassig, the third American to be beheaded by the Islamic State Sunni radical group.

Kassig, who served a year in the US Army in Iraq in 2007, was taken hostage in 2013 in Syria, when he was preparing to distribute a cargo of medical supplies and humanitarian aid.

 

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