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A Price To Pay For Negotiating With Terrorists?

(AP Photo)
According to Aaron Klein at the conservative-leaning Web site WorldNetDaily, "Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a U.S. source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped [in Jerusalem] last summer." Klein sources the claim to "a senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions," who reportedly said the money was used to buy weapons "to hit the Zionists," and also said he expects that the payments will encourage further kidnappings.

Fox News has not confirmed the report, and at this point it should probably be taken as less than ironclad. It's a little unclear who was behind the alleged payoff, and whether or not Fox News itself was involved – in August, ABC News' Blotter suggested the US government played a role in Centanni and Wiig's release.

We may not ever find out the whole story here, but the report does present an opportunity to revisit a touchy subject. Some argue that paying ransoms for hostages puts potential hostages – in this case, journalists – in greater danger in the future. And there are obvious concerns about paying a ransom that could effectively fund terrorist activities. But it's worth remembering that it's hard to think in general terms when attempting to recover real people, especially friends and colleagues, and that there are moral grey areas not sufficiently covered by phrases like "we do not negotiate with terrorists." Hopefully we'll get more details sometime soon and be able to better understand how all this played out.

Update: From John Moody, Fox News Channel's senior vice president for news editorial:

Joseph Farah's statement makes a bad situation worse. Roger Ailes was correct in saying, with 100% certainty, that no News Corp entity, including Fox News, nor the families of the kidnapped journalists, paid any money for their release.

Both the original WorldNet story, and Mr. Farah's later statement, endanger every journalist reporting from a hostile environment by suggesting that kidnappings will be rewarded with ransom. Roger Ailes determined early on that we would not pay for the release of Centanni and Wiig, and we did not.

The WorldNet story appears to be based on information from terrorist sources. If so, WorldNet should reveal the source, so its reliability can be evaluated.

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