- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2000

Terrorists around the world are likely taking notice that the French, German and Finnish governments have arranged an exchange of cash for hostages. Although the governments are denying they made such an arrangement with the terrorists who held their citizens in the Philippines, their statements are transparently false. Even worse, the Europeans hatched this scheme with none other than Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Last weekend, the Filipino separatist group Abu Sayyaf released the last four of the 10 European tourists seized at a Malaysian diving resort on April 20 and then brought to the terrorists' stronghold on the tiny island of Jolo. Meanwhile, American Jeffrey Schilling continues to languish in captivity in Jolo, under Abu Sayyaf's armed control as does a Malaysian worker and two French journalists who were captured while attempting to report on the hostage crisis.

The released Europeans made a stop in Tripoli, Libya before heading back home. Mr. Gadhafi has said that he didn't pay the terrorists for the hostages' release, but large amounts of cash are known to have been transferred to the Abu Sayyaf gang, which wants a separate Muslim state inside the Philippines. Also, two members of the gang were arrested recently after they tried to convert $240,000 into Philippine pesos at a local bank.

Clearly, money was exchanged for hostages and the European governments involved are trying to take political cover behind Mr. Gadhafi who scarcely lends credibility to the arrangement. Although it is understandable that the governments would want to get the hostages out alive, this pay-off, and all its accompanying lies, is a disgrace. Mr. Gadhafi will want something in return for this "aid" to terrorists international recognition, perhaps, which he craves more than anything else.

Unfortunately for other French, German and Finnish citizens, they will also pay a price. Their governments have demonstrated that they will reward hostage-taking handsomely.

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