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Sept. 22, 2014

Nobody is more important than the state

by Jacob Popper, Op/Ed Editor
The terrorist organization ISIS in Iraq and Syria has risen in the blink of an eye and poses a major threat to the West. It has an ultimate goal of recreating the Islamic Caliphate, an empire that some 1300 years ago stretched from the Indus River in the east to Portugal in the west and encompassed most of the Middle East and North Africa. In order to pursue its goals, ISIS has started admittedly brilliant social media campaigns on Twitter and other mediums, even prompting the State Department to release a counter-video to one posted by ISIS. One of ISIS's most horrid social media maneuvers has been two videos since removed from Youtube, which show the beheadings of two American journalists named James Foley and Steven Sotloff. While these deaths are horrible and all lives should be valued, it's vital that we don't pay ISIS in exchange for hostages.

ISIS needs money to operate, and it has found ways to amass funds with stunning efficiency. United States senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) called it "The best funded terrorist group in history." ISIS's three main tools for earning money are illegal oil sales from reserves captured in Iraq and Syria, crimes committed against the people such as extortion and ransom payments for hostages. While the U.S. has little power to stop the oil sales and extortion crimes, we can do something about the ransom payments. Therefore, the U.S. should continue its policy of not paying ISIS to release prisoners.

For those who believe that ransom payments are minute compared to ISIS's other revenue-generating means, the numbers tell a completely different story. In fact, ISIS receives payments from governments and wealthy relatives that often exceed $25 million. Stopping these already huge sums of money flowing into evil hands is essential to keeping ISIS contained and incapable of mounting attacks on the United States and our global allies. For ISIS, greater income means an increase in weapons to take over territory and more public opinion campaigns aimed at garnering Sunni support.

While some of ISIS' sources of income, like the oil reserves that will eventually dry out and the citizens that will have nothing left, will only serve them for a defined time period; potential hostages will be a continuing source of income. As long as ISIS continues to be a threat, which it will be as it continues to amass territory and weapons, it will stay in the news. As long as it's newsworthy, there will be American and other Western journalists present in or close to ISIS-held land. Hostages will become an even more important source of income as time passes.
ISIS is dangerous. The United States must take responsible actions in the Middle East that disrupt ISIS's ability to govern effectively and continue to take territory and lives like a well-oiled machine. A good start is to keep money out of its possession.



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  • Blame the Eurozone on October 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM
    The US's policy is not to pay for the release of hostages. We don't negotiate with terrorists. Other countries in Europe such as Sweeden choose to pay off terrorists rather that actually participate in counter-terrorism operations.
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