james wright foley

James Wright Foley

According to a new Reuters-IPSOS Poll, 62 percent of Americans agree with the government’s policy of refusing to pay ransom for Americans kidnapped by militant organizations. Only 21 percent disagree with the policy and would be open to paying ransoms.

Many European countries have taken a different approach and do pay ransom in exchange for the safe return of their citizens. This has potentially saved several individuals but at the cost of greatly enriched rebel groups and terrorist organizations. It also potentially makes citizens of these countries bigger targets for future kidnapping attempts.

According to the New York Times, Al Qaeda and its affiliates have made at least $125 million from ransoms since 2008. It is now a major funding source for many of these groups.