As a follow-up to my posting yesterday (March 11) commenting on the execution of the two European hostages kidnapped in May 2011, a person purporting to speak for the Nigeria terror group, Boko Haram, told the Mauritanian news agency, ANI, that a ransom deal had already been agreed to between the kidnappers and the families of Italian Franco Lamolinara, 48, and Briton Chris McManus, 28.
COMMENT: Keeping in mind that terror groups in particular are well known for manipulating the media for their own interests, a comment from the British government suggest that they knew of no such plan.
Nevertheless, Boko Haram reportedly told ANI that the two parties [the kidnappers and the families] had agreed to a ransom payment of 1.2 million euros and that a good faith portion of the payment had already been received by the kidnappers. It should also be noted that ANI is hardly a credible news source.
ANI's news account also indicated that the group holding the hostages was led by Khaled Al-Barnaoui of Niger, one of the first from his country to join the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) which became AQIM after aligning with al-Qaeda in 2007.
On March 8, a combined Nigerian-British rescue unit carried out an operation in the northwestern town of Sokoto in an effort to free McManus and Lamolinara, which resulted in the kidnappers' shooting and killing them before they could be successfully rescued.
Although the majority of developed nations have policies against the payment of ransom, release of prisoners or the making of concessions to terror groups and kidnappers, that usually does not inhibit families or third parties from paying ransom when government efforts fail.
Based upon public information available, the British government position is no doubt accurate and the Boko Haram version dubious and simply a part of its ongoing disinformation campaign.
If the Nigerian and the British had corroborated that the death of the hostages was imminent, that is one factor. Yet, if they had no such corroboration, then they should have waited on the rescue effort and continued to verify that the hostages were still alive.
Unfortunately, in conducting the rescue operation, Messrs. McManus and Lamolinara were still killed by their captors in response to the operation. Hence, there may have been prudence in continuing to wait.