U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters August 20, 2014. REUTERS/The Daily Caller/Handout via Reuters
The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), demanded a $100 million ransom payment from the US government in exchange for the release of American photojournalist James Foley, the New York Times reports. However, because of a US government policy not to pay ransom to terrorist groups, the jihadists went ahead and beheaded Foley who had been missing since mid-2013.
The same fate could befall on Steven Sotloff, another American journalist and freelancer for TIME magazine allegedly in the hands of jihadists who also demanded a similar $100 million ransom to spare Sotloff's life, although previously they sought a stop on US attacks on the extremist militants.
The family of Foley and another hostage held alongside the 40-year-old photojournalist confirmed the $100 million demand. Besides Foley, the ISIL holds at least three more Americans whom they are threatening with death, unless ransom is paid, the New York Times reported, based on interviews with the families of the kidnapped victims.
Foley's decapitation brings to fore once more the dilemma over the American policy of not paying ransom to terrorists, which some European nations had done. However, in so doing, it has provided terror organisations like the al Qaeda and its affiliates with funds to further finance its jihad.
The Christian Science Monitor estimates that paying militants in exchange for the lives of hostages have netted the terror groups about $125 million in the past five years. Nasser al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, wrote, quoted by the Monitor, "Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil, which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure."
The US policy spells doom for most of the hostages, although a few managed to escape and some were rescued by special operations.
In the case of Sotloff, the threat to be the next headless victim was very graphically done in the YouTube video that ISIL uploaded on Tuesday showing the screen going dark after Foley was beheaded, with the next image showing the same black-hooded man with a British accent holding Sotloff, who was garbed in an orange shirt, with the verbal threat "The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision."