ISIS has released demands that America pay a $US6.6 million ransom and the release of a suspected terrorist in exchange for the release of a captured 26-year-old American woman, ABC News reports.
The American woman was captured over a year ago while participating in humanitarian relief work in Syria. The woman has remained unidentified, pursuant with the wishes of the family and the U.S. government.
ISIS is demanding that the U.S. both pay a $US6.6 million ransom and also release Aafia Siddiqui.
Siddiqui is an MIT graduate in neuroscience who was convicted in 2010 by the U.S. of trying to kill two American officials in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has a strict policy of not paying ransoms for hostages held by terrorist organisations, for fear that it may encourage further kidnappings of U.S. nationals. This policy has come under scrutiny in the past week after American photojournalist James Foley was executed by ISIS in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes.
Before Foley’s execution, ISIS had demanded a $US132 million ransom for his release.
Although the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists, American ally Qatar is reportedly carrying out efforts to help free the four Americans currently being held by ISIS.
Qatar has connections on the ground in Syria, and has won the release of multiple hostages throughout the Syrian civil war. Qatar has negotiated the release of hostages held by the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra Front, although the group denies having any ties to al-Qaeda or ISIS.
The Gulf State is attempting this latest round of hostage negotiations just a day after it won the release of American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who had been held in Syria since 2012. Qatari involvement in the negotiations opened avenues of communication that led to Curtis’ release into the custody of UN peacekeepers. Qatar insists that no ransom was paid.
Despite ISIS’ threats that it would execute other Americans if the U.S. continued airstrikes, American planes have continued bombing ISIS targets in northern Iraq. In a further escalation of the conflict, the U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over ISIS-held territory in Syria, in a possible precursor to airstrikes within Syria.
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