Thursday, July 22, 2004

Blood Money

The Belmont Club wrote that Filipino hostage negotiators had a bad habit of skimming stuff off the top when handling ransom money. Maybe it was no different in the case of Angelo de la Cruz. A story from the AP says (hat tip reader JM):

The Malaysians contacted Islamic clerics to "reach out to the hostage-takers" on behalf of dela Cruz and the Philippine government, Bunye said. Bunye also denied that a ransom was paid for dela Cruz. Diplomatic sources, however, said that the government offered up to $1 million to the kidnappers but only about a quarter of the amount was eventually turned over to the abductors. "This release of Angelo is based on negotiations and on meeting the conditions" of the Iraqi insurgents, Bunye said.

Where did the three quarters of a million go? In the Six Million Dollar Man, written before the Filipino hostage was released noted that there were reports six million dollars in ransom was offered: 1 million from the Philippines and 5 million from Malaysia:

Michelle Malkin links to an article in the Philippines Daily Tribune which reports that the Philippines has paid an Iraqi terrorist gang US$6 million dollars for the release of hostage Angelo de la Cruz.

A ransom of $6 million was offered and paid out to the Iraqi rebels holding Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz hostage, to ensure his release before President Arroyo's scheduled State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 26, a high level Philippine intelligence officer told the Tribune yesterday. This offer was alleged to have been approved by the President herself, who then tapped Malaysian emissaries for the job, the intelligence officer, who asked for anonymity, said. Of the $6-million payoff, $5 million was shouldered by Malaysia and $1 million by the Landbank of the Philippines, the officer added.

... Filipino hostage release negotiations have traditionally been scuppered by the disconcerting tendency of negotiators to pocket part of the ransom money for themselves. Terrorist leader Galib Andang, aka "Commander Robot" bitterly accused Philippine Government officials of cutting themselves too large a slice of the cake.

The two vital points confirmed by the AP report were that the Malaysians were involved and that a ransom was offered. That quarter of a million dollars, paid to the Khalid Ibn al-Walid brigade (who held the Filipino hostage) is coincidentally almost exactly the amount being offered by Zarqawi for the head of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. According to Reuters:

A group led by suspected al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi offered a reward of $282,000 on Sunday for the killing of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, according to a statement posted on an Islamist Web site. "We in Khalid bin al-Walid Brigade announce to the Iraqi people a reward of 200,000 Jordanian dinars ($282,000) to whoever gets us Allawi's head," said a group statement posted on the site.

How about that?