Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Israel praised by Hamas co-founder’s son

Israel praised by Hamas co-founder’s son

Israel is getting accolades for its war against Hamas from a very unlikely quarter — the son of the terror group’s co-founder.
“Israel in the Middle East is fighting on behalf of the free world,” declared Mosab Hassan Yousef, the outspoken son of Hamas leader Hassan Yousef.
Modal Trigger
Mosab Hassan Yousef in 2010Photo: AP
The younger Yousef long ago abandoned his father’s twisted ideology — and even worked for a decade as a spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet.
Echoing the warnings of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yousef said Hamas can’t be trusted and doesn’t care about how many lives are lost in pursuit of its goal to build a radical Islamic state.
“Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, or the lives of Israelis, or Americans; they don’t care about their own lives,” Yousef told CNN in a recent interview. “They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship.”
He rejected Hamas and converted to Christianity despite being raised to become a violent militant. He wrote a book, “Son of Hamas,” about his unusual experience.
“Their goal is to conquer the globe and build an Islamic state on every inch of the globe,” he told the website The Right Scoop. “[Hamas] is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as it takes.”
In the CNN interview, he blasted the militants battling Israel in Gaza for their stated goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate — a goal shared by the Sunni extremists fighting in Syria and Iraq.
“Hamas is not seeking co-existence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And by the way, the destruction of the State of Israel is not Hamas’s final destination,” he said. “Hamas’s final destination is building the Islamic caliphate, which means an Islamic state under rubble of every other civilization.”
Yousef, who won asylum to live in the US in 2010, said he had been brainwashed as a child to give up everything for the terrorists’ cause.
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Smoke rises in the sky following Israeli strikes on eastern Gaza City on Wednesday.Photo: AP
“In the mosques, Hamas taught us that without shedding innocent blood for the sake of the ideology, we wouldn’t be able to build an Islamic state. They were preparing us from the age as young as 5 years old. This is the ideology that Hamas was feeding us. And honestly, it’s impossible almost for anybody to break through and see the truth and real face of Hamas and be able to leave at some point,” he said.
“As you see in my case, I had to lose everything just to say no to Hamas. And today when I look at the children of Gaza and I know what they’re fed, I know that they have no choice.”

Islamist terrorism in Nigeria

Nigeria Kano blast: Boko Haram blamed for six deaths

Map
At least six people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a college in northern Nigeria's biggest city, Kano, witnesses say.
The female bomber blew herself up as students queued to check their names on a new admission list, they reported.
This is the fifth attack in Kano since Sunday, at least three of which have been carried out by female bombers.
Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been widely blamed for the attacks.
It has waged an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009, and appears to have adopted a new tactic by increasingly using female suicide bombers, correspondents say.
The bomber was hidden in the crowd, a witness, Isyaku Adamu, told the AFP news agency.
"It was a huge crowd and people were jostling to go through the lists," Mr Adamu is quoted as saying.

This occured in the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria so one can assume those killed were mostly Muslim. 

The UN is complicit in empowering Hamas

Gaza Continued: What Do We Do About the UN?

Word came Tuesday that now a third UNRWA school in Gaza was housing rockets for Hamas. (How the missiles were never noticed before was unclear — maybe they were stacked beneath the erasers and paper clips or hidden under student spitballs.) From the Jerusalem Post:
Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, did not name who was responsible for putting weapons in the school, but quickly criticized whoever was at fault.
Gunness added that a UN munitions expert was called in to dispose of the weapons, but could not get to the site due to fighting on the ground.

Obama's success in "skyrocketing" your electricity bill

Average Price of Electricity Climbs to All-Time Record


CNSNews.com) - For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year.
The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record.
Average Price for a KWH of Electricity
Typically, the cost of electricity peaks in summer, declines in fall, and hits its lowest point of the year during winter. In each of the first six months of this year, the average price for a KWH hour of electricity has hit a record for that month. In June, it hit the all-time record.
Although the price for an average KWH hit its all-time record in June, the seasonally adjusted electricity price index--which measures changes in the price of electricity relative to a value of 100 and adjusts for seasonal fluctuations in price--hit its all-time high of 209.341 in March of this year, according to BLS. In June, it was slightly below that level, at 209.144.
Back in June 1984, the seasonally adjusted price index for electricity was 103.9—less than half what it was in June 2014.
Electricity prices have not always risen in the United States. The BLS has published an annual electricity price index dating back to 1913. It shows that from that year through 1947, the price of electricity in the United States generally trended down, with the index dropping from 45.5 in 1913 to 26.6 in 1947.
Electricity Price Index 1913-2013
In the two decades after that, electricity prices were relatively stable, with the index still only at 29.9 in 1967—an increase of 12.4 percent over two decades.
However, from 2003 to 2013, the annual electricity price index increased from 139.5 to 200.750, a climb of almost 44 percent.
So far, overall annual electricity production peaked in the United States in 2007. Per capita electricity production also peaked in 2007based on calculations made using data published by the Energy Information Administration and the Census Bureau.
However, in the first four months of this year (January through April)--according to the July edition of the Monthly Energy Review released yesterday by the Energy Information Administration--overall electricity production was up, with the nation having generated a total of 1,329,042 million KWH. That is more than the 1,281,300 million KWH produced in the first four months of 2013---and it is also more than the 1,298,675 million KWH generated in the first four months of the peak production year of 2007.
According to the Census Bureau, however, the resident population of the United States increased from 300,888,674 in April 2007 to 317,787,997 in April 2014. So, per capita electricity production in the first four months of 2014 (0.004182 million KWH per person) was less than the per capita electricity production in the first four months of 2007 (0.004316 million KWH per person).
Electricity Production Per Capita
The composition of U.S. electricity production in January-April 2014 was also somewhat different from the composition of production in January-April 2007. In both years, coal was the top source of electricity. But in the first four months of 2007, coal generated 644,052 million KWH, while in the first four months of 2014 it generated only 548,297 million KWH. That is a drop of 95,755 million KWH or about 14.9 percent.
Electricity production from nuclear power declined from 260,838 million KWH in January-April 2007 to 254,485 in January-April 2014. Electricity production from conventional hydroelectric power declined from 92,873 million KWH to 88,364. And production from petroleum declined from 24,974 million KWH to 14,931.
The largest increase in electricity production came from natural gas—which climbed from generating 234,331 million KWH in the first four months of 2007 to generating 318,958 million KWH in the first four months of 2014.
The 84,627 in additional million KWH of electricity that natural gas generated in the first four months of this year compared to the first four months of 2007 is more than all of the 68,516 million KWH of electricity generated by wind power in the first four months of this year.
The 68,516 million KWH of electricity generated by wind in January through April equaled 5.2 percent of the nation’s electricity supply during that period.
The 4,594 million KWH of electricity generated by solar power equaled 0.35 percent of the nation’s electricity supply in the first four months of the year.

The anti gun Bloomberg encourages victimhood



Bloomberg anti-gun ad drawing attention

 
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -A new public service announcement released by an anti-gun group created by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has gone viral. Part of the attention drawn to the video is the mixed message, some say, it is drumming up.
The video by Everytown for Gun Safety is intended to show the dangers of guns in the hands of domestic abusers, but the victim, a woman, is seen helpless because she has no gun to protect herself.
The woman is home alone with her child and calls 911 after her ex-husband breaks into the house.
“Please! My son is here. You need to come now," says the woman. The man then picks up the child, says he’s taking him and then points a gun at the woman as he opens fire.
Bloomberg has been a heavy critic of lax gun laws across the country. Everytown for Gun Safety wants to encourage people to contact their legislators about the need for tougher gun laws.

Follow link in headline to see video.

The politicalization of the bureaucracy bodes ill for all of us.

New Emails: Lois Lerner Referred to Conservatives As '***holes' and 'TeRrorists


CNSNews.com) - A newly discovered email exchange from Lois Lerner's official IRS email account "directly demonstrates Ms. Lerner's deep animus towards conservatives, which she refers to as '---holes,'" House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday.

In that Nov. 9, 2012 email, Lerner further suggests that conservatives will ruin the country: "So we don't  need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic). It's our own crazies that will take us down," she wrote.

Camp (R-Mich.) told Holder the email "shows that Ms. Lerner's mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives."

Camp said he also has discovered that Lerner used her personal email to conduct official business,including confidential tax return information, and he once again urged the Justice Department to ramp up its investigation:

"While the committee has not seen any evidence of a serious investigation by  your department, it is my sincere hope that in light of this new, strong evidence that you immediately begin aggressively investigating this matter or appoint a special counsel."

Camp warned that failure to do so "will only further erode public trust" in the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department.
Ways and Means is one of three congressional committees investigating the way the IRS, during Lerner's tenure, handled groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS admits that conservative groups were singled out for inappropriate scrutiny and delay before the 2012 election.

The IRS knows to whom you as an individual contribute. Which political party you support. Lois Lerner here shows that she and her associates will treat people differently based on their political affiliation. A chilling effect to be sure. Kafka wrote about these bureaucrats and we are now living the nightmare.

Mika's freudian slip...just like her father the anti Semite

Mika Brzezinski: ‘Keep it Right Here on Morning Jew’

  
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski is having a tough Wednesday.
After interviewing Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Brzezinski said “keep it right here on Morning Jew.”

Hamas kills protesters in Gaza...they'll just blame Israel

Report: Hamas executes alleged spies, shoots protesters in Gaza
By Ariel Ben Solomon29/07/2014
Palestinian media reports Hamas has executed more than 30 civilians accused of collaborating with Israel.
 
Hamas shot some 20 Palestinians on Monday night for protesting against Hamas for the massive destruction inflicted on their neighborhood in Shejaia by the IDF in the past weeks, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday.
Over the past few days, Hamas has executed more than 30 civilians from various parts of the Gaza Strip which it suspected of collaborating with Israel, unidentified Palestinian security sources told the Palestine Press News Agency.
Hamas claimed it had detected alleged “spies” in the area of Shejaia and said that they were executed after an investigation into some of them. Such investigations reportedly revealed weapons and communication devices in the possession of the "spies."
In the past Palestinian sources have quoted Hamas’ armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam as saying that it has used agents in civilian clothes to monitor the movement of suspected informants.

In case there were any doubts about the Palestinians goal...

Hamas Sermon from the Gaza Strip: Our Doctrine Entails Exterminating the Jews

Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza) - July 25, 2014 - 00:54

Selective references to G-d by Democrats when it suits them. Otherwise, meh

California’s Jerry Brown cites God, ‘religious call’ to embrace illegals


California Gov. Jerry Brown told a crowd of climate change watchers at an event in Mexico that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s push for National Guard troops on the border was flat-out wrong — that God demands a friendlier reception for illegals.
Mr. Brown outright called on Mr. Perry, along with other politicians in the United States, to abide the “religious call … to welcome the stranger,” in reference to illegal immigrants, Breitbart reported.
“I hesitate to comment on the thinking that goes into the support of the Texas National Guard on the border,” Mr. Brown said, Breitbart reported. “I would suspect that it will be of a relatively short duration, and wiser minds will prevail over the next several months.”
Mr. Brown didn’t discuss the influence of drug cartels on the border, or the numbers of of gang members who have entered the United States in recent weeks, Bretibart reported. But he did speak of spiritual principles that pressed him to embrace the illegal crowd.
“This is a human problem,” he said, Breitbart reported, “and it has been the religious call of all religions to welcome the stranger, and it’s in that spirit that I believe the clergy can call the United States, Mexico and all the players to perhaps a higher response than might otherwise happen.”
He also furthered the much-contested notion that the majority of recent illegal border crossers were small, young children, innocent and simply seeking to reunite with family members in the United States. Many reports in recent weeks have instead shown that a large percentage of the illegal minor-aged immigrants who are crossing are actually older teens, nearly adults, and affiliated with gangs or drug cartels.
“These are children,” he said, Breitbart reported. “Many of them have relatives that are in California and other parts of the United States who are working, contributing to the well-being of people in the United States. So given the principle of family values and family reconciliation, I want to give utmost consideration to what is in the best interest of those children, not what is in the best interest of politicians who might want to exploit this particular topic.”


The Extended Obama Family

Makes you wistful for the days of Billy Carter and Roger Clinton:



Obama's Brother Joins Hamas?

July 28, 2014
In case you’ve wondered why Barack Obama has abandoned Israel and seems to be siding with Hamas in the current conflict, wonder no more.
A year ago I wrote about Obama’s older half-brother Malik Obama:
“In addition to illegally operating the non-profit organization, Barack H. Obama Foundation, Malik Obama currently works as the Executive Secretary of the Islamic Da’wa Organization (IDO). The US State Department considers the government of Sudan to be a terrorist organization and it just so happens that the IDO was created by that same Sudanese government.”
“In 2010, the IDO held a conference in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The conference was led by Omar Al-Bashir, the President of Sudan. He is wanted on seven counts of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. The US State Department has also listed Bashir as the head of the state sponsored terrorism of Sudan.”…
“Malik Obama not only attended the IDO conference, but he spoke at it as well. There are photos of Malik and his boss, Suar Al Dahab, Chairman of the IDO. Dahab has a close relationship with Bashir and has been seen with Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who says Hitler did not finish the job in exterminating the Jews, and Ismail Haniyeh, the Prime Minister of Hamas (a terrorist organization). On a recent trip to Gaza, the three men appeared together and it was obvious that Dahab demonstrated full support to the two leaders.”
“With Malik’s obvious ties to Islamic terrorism, I can’t help but wonder just how close the two half-brothers are. According to reports, they each stood as best man at the other’s wedding, although I’m not sure which wedding of Malik’s it’s referring to since he supposedly has 13 wives. Malik has also visited the White House on a number of occasions.”
At that time, I questioned the loyalty of Barack Obama to America and our ally Israel.
Now, former Muslim extremist Walid Shoebat and his colleague Ben Barrack report that Malik Obama also attended the 2010 Orphans Development Fund (ODF) Conference in which he wore a Hamas scarf that bore the Palestinian inscriptions:
“Jerusalem is ours – WE ARE COMING”
The scarf also contained a map of Palestine with the inscription:
“From the River to the Sea!”
This is a common Palestinian statement meaning that there is no Israel and Malik has worn it at more than one public event so it isn’t just a one-time fluke. Shoebat says there can be no doubt that Malik Obama has definitely sided with Hamas and shares their vow to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Malik is not just a distant half-brother of Barack Obama. He was the best man at Barack and Michelle’s wedding and has been a frequent visitor to the White House. When asked about being Barack’s half-brother in an interview for GQ Magazine, Malik took offense:
“‘Everyone’s referring to us as half, quarter,…step, things like that,’ he says, displeased even by the taste of those words. ‘I think that’s like weights and measures. This didn’t even occur to us until he became president, until he gained prominence. And now we’re sort of like celebrities.’”
“‘But this is a streak of ignorance,’ he adds. ‘Here in Africa we don’t think of each other as ‘half’ this or that. In an extended family, someone is your brother even if he is just in your clan. So I…am Obama.’”
This should lay to rest why Barack Obama has spent 5 ½ years destroying America’s relationship with Israel and at the same time has been courting all of the Islamic nations that have vowed to destroy Israel.
Hamas clearly started the current conflict by kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenage boys. After Israel retaliated, Hamas began rocketing Israel which is what prompted Israel to start rocketing Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and the Palestinian extremists clearly started the conflict yet Barack Obama has joined the anti-Israeli liberal media in condemning Israel for what’s happening.
With a brother who’s working with, for and supporting anti-Semitic and anti-American terrorists, it explains why Obama has been so dead set on destroying Israel and the United States.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Funding the war on ourselves

Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror


BAMAKO, Mali — The cash filled three suitcases: 5 million euros.
The German official charged with delivering this cargo arrived here aboard a nearly empty military plane and was whisked away to a secret meeting with the president of Mali, who had offered Europe a face-saving solution to a vexing problem.
Officially, Germany had budgeted the money as humanitarian aid for the poor, landlocked nation of Mali.
In truth, all sides understood that the cash was bound for an obscure group of Islamic extremists who were holding 32 European hostages, according to six senior diplomats directly involved in the exchange.
The suitcases were loaded onto pickup trucks and driven hundreds of miles north into the Sahara, where the bearded fighters, who would soon become an official arm of Al Qaeda, counted the money on a blanket thrown on the sand. The 2003 episode was a learning experience for both sides. Eleven years later, the handoff in Bamako has become a well-rehearsed ritual, one of dozens of such transactions repeated all over the world.
Photo
Harald Ickler in June near his home in Miesbach, Bavaria. As a captive in the desert, he thought often of his lush, green Germany. CreditGordon Welters for The New York Times
Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.
While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.
In various news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.
These payments were made almost exclusively by European governments, who funnel the money through a network of proxies, sometimes masking it as development aid, according to interviews conducted for this article with former hostages, negotiators, diplomats and government officials in 10 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The inner workings of the kidnapping business were also revealed in thousands of pages of internal Qaeda documents found by this reporter while on assignment for The Associated Press in northern Mali last year.
In its early years Al Qaeda received most of its money from deep-pocketed donors, but counterterrorism officials now believe the group finances the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms paid to free Europeans.
Put more bluntly, Europe has become an inadvertent underwriter of Al Qaeda.
The foreign ministries of France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany denied in emails or telephone interviews that they had paid the terrorists. “The French authorities have repeatedly stated that France does not pay ransoms,” said Vincent Floreani, deputy director of communication for France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Several senior diplomats involved in past negotiations have described the decision to ransom their citizens as an agonizing calculation: accede to the terrorists’ demand, or allow innocent people to be killed, often in a gruesome, public way?
Yet the fact that Europe and its intermediaries continue to pay has set off a vicious cycle.
“Kidnapping for ransom has become today’s most significant source of terrorist financing,” said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a 2012 speech. “Each transaction encourages another transaction.”
And business is booming: While in 2003 the kidnappers received around $200,000 per hostage, now they are netting up to $10 million, money that the second in command of Al Qaeda’s central leadership recently described as accounting for as much as half of his operating revenue.
“Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil,” wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure.”
Continue reading the main story
The stream of income generated is so significant that internal documents show that as long as five years ago, Al Qaeda’s central command in Pakistan was overseeing negotiations for hostages grabbed as far afield as Africa. Moreover, the accounts of survivors held thousands of miles apart show that the three main affiliates of the terrorist group — Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in northern Africa; Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen; and the Shabab, in Somalia — are coordinating their efforts, and abiding by a common kidnapping protocol.
To minimize the risk to their fighters, the terror affiliates have outsourced the seizing of hostages to criminal groups who work on commission. Negotiators take a reported 10 percent of the ransom, creating an incentive on both sides of the Mediterranean to increase the overall payout, according to former hostages and senior counterterrorism officials.
Their business plan includes a step-by-step process for negotiating, starting with long periods of silence aimed at creating panic back home. Hostages are then shown on videos begging their government to negotiate.
Although the kidnappers threaten to kill their victims, a review of the known cases revealed that only a small percentage of hostages held by Qaeda’s affiliates have been executed in the past five years, a marked turnaround from a decade ago, when videos showing beheadings of foreigners held by the group’s franchise in Iraq would regularly turn up online. Now the group has realized it can advance the cause of jihad by keeping hostages alive and trading them for prisoners and suitcases of cash.
Only a handful of countries have resisted paying, led by the United States and Britain. Although both these countries have negotiated with extremist groups — evidenced most recently by the United States’ trade of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — they have drawn the line when it comes to ransoms.
It is a decision that has had dire consequences. While dozens of Europeans have been released unharmed, few American or British nationals have gotten out alive. A lucky few ran away, or were rescued by special forces. The rest were executed or are being held indefinitely.
“The Europeans have a lot to answer for,” said Vicki Huddleston, the former United States deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, who was the ambassador to Mali in 2003 when Germany paid the first ransom. “It’s a completely two-faced policy. They pay ransoms, and then deny any was paid,” she said. “The danger of this is not just that it grows the terrorist movement, but it makes all of our citizens vulnerable.”
A Letter Under a Rock
On Feb. 23, 2003, a group of four Swiss tourists, including two 19-year-old women, woke up in their sleeping bags in southern Algeria to the shouts of armed men. The men told the young women to cover their hair with towels, then commandeered their camper van and took off with them.
Over the coming weeks, another seven tour groups traveling in the same corner of the desert vanished. European governments scrambled to find their missing citizens.
Weeks passed before a German reconnaissance plane sent to scan the desert floor returned with images of their abandoned vehicles. More weeks passed before a scout sent on foot spotted something white through his binoculars.
It was a letter left under a rock.
Continue reading the main story

At least $125 million in ransom money has been paid to Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates since 2008 for kidnappings that have been reported.

$91.5 million has been paid to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.


Year
Amount in
2014 Dollars

Paid By

Hostages
2010-13$40.4 millionA state-controlled French company4 French nationals
2010-11$17.7 millionA state-controlled French company1 French national, 1 from Togo and 1 from Madagascar
2009$12.4 millionSwitzerland2 Swiss nationals and 1 German
2011-12$10.8 millionCould not be determined1 Italian and 2 Spaniards
2009-10$5.9 millionSpain3 Spaniards
2008$3.2 millionAustria2 Austrians
2008-9$1.1 millionCould not be determined2 Canadians

$5.1 million has been paid to the Shabab.

2011-13$5.1 millionSpain2 Spaniards

$29.9 million has been paid to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

2012-13$20.4 millionQatar and Oman2 Finnish nationals, 1 Austrian and 1 Swiss national
2011$9.5 millionCould not be determined3 French nationals
Note: Ransom amounts have been converted into U.S. dollars using the currency exchange rate from the year of the payment in cases where the payment was made in euros. The ransom amounts were then adjusted for inflation so that they are in 2014 dollars.
In messy handwriting, it laid out the demands of a little-known jihadist group calling itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.
Armed with a few hunting rifles and old AK-47s, the kidnappers succeeded in sweeping up dozens of tourists over several consecutive weeks, mostly from Germany, but also from Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands. Though they planned the first few ambushes, they appear to have grabbed others by chance, like a pair of hapless 26-year-olds from Innsbruck, Austria, who were spotted because of the campfire they had lit to cook spaghetti.
Beyond the initial grab, the kidnappers did not seem to have a plan. The only food they had was the canned goods the tourists had brought with them. The only fuel was what was in each gas tank. They abandoned the cars one by one as they ran out of fuel, forcing their hostages to continue on foot.
A 47-year-old Swedish hostage, Harald Ickler, remembers being so hungry that when he found a few leftover Danish butter cookie crumbs, he carefully scooped them into the palm of his hand, and then let them melt in his mouth.
“Once they had us, they didn’t seem to know what to do with us,” said Reto Walther of Untersiggenthal, Switzerland, who was in one of the first groups to be grabbed. “They were improvising.”
Despite the amateur nature of the operation, the jihadists had hit a soft spot. Almost none of their hostages had resisted, simply putting up their hands when they saw the gunmen. And although the Europeans outnumbered their captors, the hostages never tried to run away during what turned into a six-month captivity for some of them, and described the foreboding desert surrounding them as an “open-air prison.”
Crucially, although the European nations had firepower superior to that of the scrappy mujahedeen, they deemed a rescue mission too dangerous.
The jihadists asked for weapons. Then for impossible-to-meet political demands, like the removal of the Algerian government. When a 45-year-old German woman died of dehydration, panicked European officials began considering a ransom concealed as an aid payment as the least-bad option.
“The Americans told us over and over not to pay a ransom. And we said to them, ‘We don’t want to pay. But we can’t lose our people,’” said a European ambassador posted in Algeria at the time, who was one of six senior Western officials with direct knowledge of the 2003 kidnapping who confirmed details for this article. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information remains classified.
“It was a very difficult situation,” he said, “but in the end we are talking about human life.”
‘Not Just Normal Criminals’
The exploits of the band of fighters in the Sahara did not go unnoticed.
Continue reading the main storySlide Show
SLIDE SHOW|12 Photos

For Hostages of Al Qaeda, Objects From Their Captivity Still Carry Meaning

For Hostages of Al Qaeda, Objects From Their Captivity Still Carry Meaning

CreditGlenna Gordon for The New York Times
A year later, in 2004, a Qaeda operative, Abdelaziz al-Muqrin, published a how-to guide to kidnapping, in which he highlighted the successful ransom negotiation of “our brothers in Algeria.” Yet at the same time, he also praised the execution of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was grabbed in Pakistan in 2002 and beheaded nine days later by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a senior Qaeda member believed to be one of the architects of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Within a few years, there was a split within Al Qaeda, with the group’s affiliate in Iraq grabbing foreigners specifically to kill them.
In Algeria, the kidnappers of the European tourists followed a different path.
They used the €5 million as the seed money for their movement, recruiting and training fighters who staged a series of devastating attacks. They grew into a regional force and were accepted as an official branch of the Qaeda network, which baptized them Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As kidnapping revenue became their main lifeline, they honed and perfected the process.
By Feb. 2, 2011, when their lookouts in southern Algeria spotted a 53-year-old Italian tourist, Mariasandra Mariani, admiring the rolling dunes through a pair of binoculars, they were running a sleek operation.
Her tour guide was the first to spot them, and screamed at her to run. As their cars sped toward her, she sprinted to her nearby desert bungalow and locked herself inside. She could do nothing but sit frozen on the mattress as they broke down the door. They threw her in a waiting car, handcuffing her to the dashboard. Before they sped off, they made sure to place a rolled-up blanket next to her, so that the jihadist sitting next to her would not accidentally make contact with a woman.
“Who are you?” she asked them.
“We are Al Qaeda,” they replied.
If previous kidnapping missions did not seem to have a thought-out plan, the gunmen who seized Ms. Mariani drove for days on what appeared to be a clearly delineated route. Whenever they were low on fuel, they would make their way to a spot that to her looked no different in the otherwise identical lunar landscape.
Under a thorn bush, they would find a drum full of gasoline. Or a stack of tires to replace a punctured one. They never ran out of food.
Ms. Mariani would later learn they had an infrastructure of supplies buried in the sand and marked with GPS coordinates.
One afternoon they stopped just above the lip of a dune. The fighters got down and unfastened a shovel. Then she heard the sound of a car engine. Suddenly a pickup truck roared out. They had buried an entire vehicle in the mountain of sand.
Photo
Mariasandra Mariani, an Italian tourist who was kidnapped in Algeria in 2011 and held for 14 months, is surrounded by photos from earlier trips to the Sahara at her family home in San Casciano in Val di Pesa. CreditGianni Cipriano for The New York Times
“It was then that I realized, these aren’t just normal criminals,” said Ms. Mariani.
The Sounds of Silence
Weeks passed before Ms. Mariani’s captors announced that they were going to allow her to make a phone call. They drove for hours until they reached a plateau, a flat white pan of dirt.
Years earlier, their strategy for broadcasting their demands had been to leave a letter under a rock. Now they had satellite phones and a list of numbers. They handed her a script and dialed the number for Al Jazeera.
“My name is Mariasandra Mariani. I am the Italian who was kidnapped,” she said. “I am still being detained by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”
The Italian government scrambled to create a crisis unit, including a 24-hour hotline for the kidnappers.
During her 14-month captivity, whenever the kidnappers felt that attention had flagged, they erected a tent in the desert and forced Ms. Mariani to record a video message, showing her surrounded by her armed captors.
A total of 11 former hostages grabbed by Qaeda units in Algeria, Mali, Niger, Yemen and Syria who agreed to be interviewed for this article reported a similar set of steps in the negotiations, beginning with an imposed period of silence. Video messages and telephone calls were infrequent, often months apart. The silence appeared purposeful, intended to terrorize the families of the captives, who in turn pressured their respective governments.
In the Italian village of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Ms. Mariani’s 80-year-old mother stopped sleeping in her bedroom, moving permanently to the couch in front of the TV. Her aging father would burst into tears for no reason. In France, the frantic brother of a hostage held for a year in Syria developed an ulcer.
All over Europe, families rallied, pressuring governments to pay. Ms. Mariani was ultimately released, along with two Spanish hostages, for a ransom that a negotiator involved in her case said was close to €8 million.
Qaeda Supervision
The bulk of the kidnappings-for-ransom carried out in Al Qaeda’s name have occurred in Africa, and more recently in Yemen and Syria. These regions are thousands of miles from the terror network’s central command in Pakistan. Yet audio messages released by the group, as well as confidential letters between commanders, indicate the organization’s senior leaders are directly involved in the negotiations.
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How Much Countries Have Paid

Total amount paid to Al Qaeda and its affiliates in ransom money since 2008 for kidnappings that have been reported. In 2014 dollars.

France
$58.1 million
Qatar and Oman
$20.4 million
Switzerland
$12.4 million
Spain
$11.0 million
Austria
$3.2 million
Source could not be determined
$21.4 million
As early as 2008, a commander holding two Canadian diplomats angered his leaders by negotiating a ransom on his own. In a letter discovered by this reporter in buildings abandoned by the jihadists in Mali last year, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb blamed the commander, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, for securing only the “meager sum” of €700,000 — around $1 million — saying the low amount was a result of his unwillingness to follow the instructions of their leadership in Pakistan.
In his last broadcast before his death in 2011, Osama bin Laden spoke at length about the case of four French citizens held by Al Qaeda in Mali, making clear that he was keeping close tabs on individual kidnappings.
Hostages held as recently as last year in Yemen say it was clear the negotiations were being handled by a distant leadership.
Atte and Leila Kaleva, a Finnish couple held for five months by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2013, deduced this from the voluminous correspondence they saw being delivered to their captors.
“There were lots of letters back and forth,” said Mr. Kaleva. “It was clear that they had a hierarchy, and they were consulting their leaders about what to do with us.”
A Valuable Commodity
In the dozens of kidnappings that Al Qaeda has carried out, the threat of execution has hung over each hostage, reinforced in videos showing the victim next to armed and menacing jihadist guards. In fact, only a minority of hostages — just 15 percent, according to an analysis by The Times — have been executed or have died since 2008, several of them in botched rescue operations.
The potential income hostages represent has made them too valuable to the movement. In a 2012 letter to his fellow jihadists in Africa, the man who was once Bin Laden’s personal secretary and who is now the second in command of Al Qaeda, wrote that at least half of his budget in Yemen was funded by ransoms.
“Thanks to Allah, most of the battle costs, if not all, were paid from through the spoils,” wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “Almost half the spoils came from hostages.”
Mr. Kaleva realized his captors did not intend to kill him when he became ill with what he feared was a giardia infection, and his worried kidnappers immediately brought him medicine.
When Ms. Mariani fell ill from violent dysentery in the burning sands of the Malian desert, a jihadist doctor hooked her up to an IV, nursing her back to health.
Elsewhere in the Sahara, the jihadists trucked in specialized medication for a 62-year-old Frenchwoman who had breast cancer.
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PLAY VIDEO|0:48

Al Qaeda’s Reluctant Financiers

Al Qaeda’s Reluctant Financiers

The New York Times obtained this exclusive video of a 2003 kidnapping in North Africa. Read about how Al Qaeda uses abductions to finance its operations, later this week in The Times.
 Video CreditBy Poh Si Teng on Publish DateJuly 29, 2014. Image CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images
“It was clear to us,” said Mr. Kaleva, “that we are more valuable to them alive than dead.”
But hostages from countries that do not pay ransoms face a harsh fate.
In 2009, four tourists were returning to Niger from a music festival in Mali when kidnappers overtook their cars, shooting out their tires. The hostages included a German woman, a Swiss couple and a British man, Edwin Dyer, 61.
From the start of the negotiations, the British government made clear it would not pay for Mr. Dyer’s release. Al Qaeda’s North African branch issued a deadline, then a 15-day extension.
“The British wanted me to send a message saying one last time that they wouldn’t pay,” said a negotiator in Burkina Faso, who acted as the go-between. “I warned them, ‘Don’t do this.’ They sent the message anyway.”
Sometime after, the public information office of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb published a communiqué: “On Sunday, May 31, 2009, at half past seven p.m. local time, the British captive, Edwin Dyer, was killed,” it said. “It seems Britain gives little importance to its citizens.”
The Swiss and German nationals held alongside Mr. Dyer were released after a reported ransom of €8 million was paid, according to one of the Swiss negotiators who helped win their release. The same year, lawmakers in Bern voted on a national budget that “suddenly had an extra line for humanitarian aid for Mali,” said the official.
Mr. Dyer was a British citizen, but he had spent the last four decades of his life in Austria, a country that pays ransoms. In his early 20s, he settled in the mountain village of Attnang-Puchheim, a one-hour drive from the home of an Austrian couple who were released in Mali a few months before Mr. Dyer was killed. Austria paid €2 million to the couple’s Qaeda captors, according to Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, a Malian parliamentarian who negotiated their release.
In England, Mr. Dyer’s grieving brother, Hans, said his brother’s citizenship cost him his life.
“A U.K. passport is essentially a death certificate,” he said.
Europe’s Outsize Role
Negotiators believe that the Qaeda branches have now determined which governments pay.
Photo
Edwin Dyer, a 61-year-old Briton, was among four tourists abducted after a music festival in Mali in 2009. The British government refused to pay a ransom, and Mr. Dyer's captors later announced they had killed him. CreditIntelCenter, via Associated Press
Of the 53 hostages known to have been taken by Qaeda’s official branches in the past five years, a third were French. And small nations like Austria, Switzerland and Spain, which do not have large expatriate communities in the countries where the kidnappings occur, account for over 20 percent of the victims.
By contrast, only three Americans are known to have been kidnapped by Al Qaeda or its direct affiliates, representing just 5 percent of the total.
“For me, it’s obvious that Al Qaeda is targeting them by nationality,” said Jean-Paul Rouiller, the director of the Geneva Center for Training and Analysis of Terrorism, who helped set up Switzerland’s counterterrorism program. “Hostages are an investment, and you are not going to invest unless you are pretty sure of a payout.”
Mr. Cohen, the United States under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said information gathered by the Department of Treasury suggested that Al Qaeda may no longer want to kidnap Americans, a tectonic shift from a decade ago.
“We know that hostage takers looking for ransoms distinguish between those governments that pay ransoms and those that do not — and make a point of not taking hostages from those countries that do not pay,” he said in a 2012 speech to the Chatham House think tank in London. “And recent kidnapping-for-ransom trends appear to indicate that hostage takers prefer not to take U.S. or U.K. hostages, almost certainly because they understand that they will not receive ransoms.”
Western countries have signed numerous agreements calling for an end to ransom paying, including as recently as last year at a G8 summit, where some of the biggest ransom payers in Europe signed a declaration agreeing to stamp out the practice. Yet according to hostages released this year and veteran negotiators, governments in Europe — especially France, Spain and Switzerland — continue to be responsible for some of the largest payments, including a ransom of €30 million — about $40 million — paid last fall to free four Frenchmen held in Mali.
A presidential adviser in Burkina Faso who has helped secure the release of several of the Westerners held in the Sahara said he routinely deals with aggressive Western diplomats who demand the release of Qaeda fighters held in local prisons in an effort to win the release of their hostages, often one of the additional demands kidnappers make.
“You would not believe the pressure that the West brings to bear on African countries,” he said. “It’s you — the West — who is their lifeblood,” he said. “It’s you who finances them.”
The suitcases of cash are now no longer dropped off in the capital of the respective country, he said.
The official, who would speak only on the condition that his name be withheld for security reasons, went on to describe how the money is transferred. He said European governments send an escort, who travels with the money several hundred miles into the desert until the last safe outpost, usually leaving from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, or Niamey in Niger. The official says the negotiator and his driver then continue driving all day, and sometimes all night, traversing a roller coaster of undulating dunes.
Once the negotiator arrives at the meeting point, he waits until his satellite phone beeps with a text message. In the message is a pair of GPS coordinates.
He drives another five to six hours until he reaches the new address in the sand, and waits for the next text, containing another set of coordinates. The process is repeated a minimum of three times, until the jihadists finally show themselves.
The money is counted on a blanket on which the fighters sit cross-legged, their guns at their sides, the official said. The millions are then divided into stashes, wrapped in plastic and buried in holes hundreds of miles apart, a detail he was able to glean following repeated meetings with the terrorist cell. They mark the location on their GPS, keeping track of it just as they track their buried cars and fuel drums.
The money is written off by European governments as an aid payment, or else delivered through intermediaries, like French nuclear giant Areva, a state-controlled company that a senior negotiator said paid €12.5 million in 2011 and €30 million in 2013 to free five French citizens. (A spokesman for Areva denied in an email that a ransom had been paid.)
In Yemen, the intermediaries are Qatar and Oman, who pay the ransoms on behalf of European governments, including more than $20 million for two groups of hostages released in the past year, according to European and Yemeni officials.
Almost a year into her captivity in 2012, Mariasandra Mariani thought she could not take it anymore. Her captors were holding her in a landscape of black granite in northern Mali, which amplified the suffocating heat. When the wind blew, it felt as if someone were holding a blow dryer inches from her skin. She spent all day next to a bucket of water, sponging herself to try to keep cool.
She told her guard that her modest family, which grows olives in the hills above Florence, did not have the money, and that her government refused to pay ransoms. Her captor reassured her.
“Your governments always say they don’t pay,” he told Ms. Mariani. “When you go back, I want you to tell your people that your government does pay. They always pay.”