The terror group al Qaeda has found a cash cow in ransom payoffs from European nations, netting a minimum of $125 million over the past six years from the kidnapping trade, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. Treasury Department, meanwhile, put the figure even higher — at $165 million.
Yet nobody wants to admit paying off the terrorist group and its terror allies, it seems. The governments of France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland all denied participating in ransom payoffs, Fox News said.
Still, al Qaeda touts the trade as lucrative.
"Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil, which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure," one al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula recently wrote, The New York Times reported.
One example reported by The New York Times: A 61-year-old British man, Edwin Dyer, was recently kidnapped and executed by an affiliate of al Qaeda in North Africa. Shortly after, Swiss and German governments paid a ransom for two of their citizens who were being held with Mr. Dyer, Fox News reported.
"It's a completely two-faced policy," Vicki Huddleston, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, told The New York Times. "They pay ransoms and then deny any was paid. The danger of this is not just that it grows the terrorist movement, but it makes all of our citizens vulnerable."
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