Intelligence officials in the U.S. and Britain believe that they are closer to identifying the terrorist who beheaded American journalist James Foley in the grotesque video released by the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS. The U.S. continues to follow a policy against such ransoms, though many have charged that the Obama Administration broke that policy in the controversial trade of five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl in addition to violating federal law. Europe has long rejected the policy and, according to media reports, has sent millions to fill the coffers of ISIS, which then uses the money to fill coffins around the world. France alone paid $13.2 million for four of its citizens and Islamic State is now known to have special kidnapping squads looking for Westerners. While we often discuss the financiers of terror in places like Saudi Arabia, we may have to start to look closer to home in the West.
The man shown in the picture with Foley is believed to be part of the operation to kidnap and ransom Westerners. He is part of a group of at least three British-born ISIS fighters known among former hostages as “The Beatles.” They are believed to include 23-year-old Abdel Majid Abdel Bary(left), who we previously discussed. He is the former rap artist and DJ from London. Bary, who only arrived in Syria last year but has been extolling the murder of nonbelievers since his arrival in what he describes as a type of Islamic paradise. He is the son of Adel Abdul Bary, an Egypt-born terror suspect who is in the U.S. awaiting trial for his alleged role in the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Bary has given up rap in favor of celebratory picture holding the heads of those who do not accept Islam as he and ISIS understand it.
The two other Beatles are Abu Hussain al-Britani, 20, and Abu Abduallah al-Britani, 23, (no known relation). Hostages describe all three as sadists who would torture hostages with tasers and were so cruel that even the homicidally insane ISIS leaders ordered that they could no longer guard the hostages.
While the world has been repulsed by these stories and scenes, some Muslims are clearly attracted to the movement and its blood-soaked history. Thousands of volunteers have flooded into these areas to join the Islamic State. In one surprising story, there are now twice the number of English muslims fighting for the Islamic State than serving in the English military.
It is not only raw recruits that Islamic State is receiving from the West. The New York Times has reported that “Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.”
This creates an obvious market for Westerners who are held and often tortured until Western countries buckle. Thus, France rewarded ISIS with over $13 million for four hostages. It is possible to be religious murderous fanatics and be still rational criminal actors. Obviously, with Westerners bringing in millions, Islamic State will go out and capture more Westerners. Given the past payments, they are likely to be even more vicious if countries do not pay. So we have the bizarre appearance of ISIS militants using captured U.S. weapons and operating off European funds. A true Fellinesque moment in history.
Last week, the CEO of GlobalPost, a media organization where Foley had worked, revealed that ISIS had demanded a ransom of $132 million in exchange for Foley.
Given the ambition of the Islamic State to kill scores of Westerners, the payments by France and other countries is truly breathtaking.