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Silvio Berlusconi Promises Bush No Ransom For Hostages

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Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has now promised President Bush the Italians will no longer pay ransom for hostage. A little late in coming for my tastes. I wonder if this will be tested by the terrorists by taking another hostage.

If they would have stuck to this from the beginning it might have meant more, now it seems to just be a political wedge that could be used by the terrorists to see if he'll stick to his promise or bow to public pressure when faced with another hostage taking. In that situation Berlusconi couldn't win either way. He either pays and pisses off the Bush administration more or doesn't pay and gets lambasted by the Italian public.

I'm one who believes in sticking to your guns from the beginning.

Times Online

THE Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has promised President George W Bush that he will not pay more ransoms to free hostages in Iraq.

The Italian government has denied newspaper reports that $6m (£3.1m) was paid for the release of Giuliana Sgrena, who worked for the Communist daily Il Manifesto. But senior officials and intelligence sources have confirmed that money did change hands.


Last year Italy paid a reported $5m (£2.6m) for the freedom of two aid workers, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta. Hours after Sgrena was seized, Berlusconi announced that “negotiations” had begun.

The reports of ransom payments have infuriated American officials, who say they fund violence and encourage more kidnappings. Mel Sembler, the American ambassador in Rome, told Berlusconi last week that the money bankrolled “the war being waged by Sunnis in Iraq”.

In response, Berlusconi has agreed to a change in policy. When a speaker during a debate in parliament urged an end to ransom payments, he nodded and said: “Certainly, certainly.”

Gustavo Selva, chairman of the standing committee for foreign affairs in the lower house of parliament, said: “From now on there will be no more ransoms, no more concessions. If there are more kidnappings, the Italians will act in full agreement with the Americans. Intelligence services will try to locate the hostage and a military raid will be launched if necessary.”

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters has this to say:

The Italians have insisted on paying ransoms, and as they now see, all that does is create a market for Italian hostages rather than convince serial killers to love Italy.
Well said.

Also of note in the article is this little gem.

Selva claimed that the attack on the Toyota Corolla carrying Sgrena and Nicola Calipari, the intelligence officer, to Baghdad airport had been prompted by a satellite monitoring system. This detected that their vehicle did not have clearance from US military authorities. A signal alerted a mobile checkpoint near the airport and its soldiers opened fire.

“The Italian team should have known what to expect, but it appears they didn’t realise how sophisticated the American military are,” said Selva.

This suggests they were trying to keep the US military from monitoring their ransom paying activities. In doing so they jeopardized the whole operation and the lives of all involved.

For more on Diggers Realm be sure to see the Giuliana Sgrena Archives, Simona Torretta Archives and Simona Pari Archives.

Tipped by: Michelle Malkin

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Posted by Digger on March 13, 2005 12:02 AM (Permalink)

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