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Michelle Malkin: True scandal in hostage tragedy was terrorist payoff
The Union Leader ^ | 11MAR05 | Michelle Malkin

Posted on 03/11/2005 2:58:22 AM PST by familyop

INTERNATIONAL furor over Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian Communist writer who claims American troops in Iraq may have deliberately shot at her car after she was released by kidnappers, misses the bigger scandal.

The scandal is not that an anti-war propagandist has accused the U.S. of targeting journalists. That’s par for the course. (Yes, hello again, Eason Jordan.)

The scandal is not that mainstream media sympathizers are blaming our military and dredging up every last shooting accident along the treacherous routes to Baghdad Airport. Again, no surprise here.

The scandal is that Italy — our reputed ally in the global War on Terror — negotiated with Sgrena’s Islamist kidnappers and may have forked over a massive ransom to cutthroats for Sgrena’s release.

Where is the uproar over this Islamist insurgency subsidy plan?

Iraqi politician Younadem Kana told Belgian state TV that he had “non-official” information that Italy paid the terrorists $1 million in tribute. The Washington Times, citing the Italian newspaper La Stampa, pinned the ransom figure at $6 million. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the Italian government forked over between $10 million and $13.4 million to free Sgrena.

Whatever the final tally, it’s a whopping bounty that will undoubtedly come in handy for cash-hungry killers in need of spiffy new rocket-propelled grenade launchers, AK-47s, mortars, landmines, components for vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and recruitment fees. (To put this windfall in perspective, bear in mind that the 9/11 plot was a half-million dollar drop in the bucket for Osama bin Laden.)

Or maybe Italian advocates of this terrorist get-rich-quick scheme think the thugs will spend their money on Prada handbags and Versace couture.

Both the Italian government and members of the Iraq Islamic Army who abducted Sgrena vehemently deny that money was exchanged. Yet, even as his government officially rebuffed reports of a ransom arrangement in the Sgrena affair, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was quoted by the newspaper Il Messaggero conceding: “We have to rethink our strategy in dealing with kidnappings.”

A little late for a do-over, don’t you think?

According to the New York Post, Lucia Annunziata, former president of Italian state television RAI, said government sources estimate Italy has paid kidnappers nearly $15 million for hostages in the past year alone. Indeed, last September, Gustavo Selva, chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, confirmed that two Italian aid workers — who praised their kidnappers as “resisters” — were freed after the government paid at least $1 million in cash to their Iraqi captors.

The admission came after heated denials by top government officials. Selva, auditioning Italy for a spot in the Axis of Weasels pantheon, mused at the time: “In principle, we shouldn’t give in to blackmail, but this time we had to, although it’s a dangerous path to take because, obviously, it could encourage others to take hostages, either for political reasons or for criminal reasons.”

How do you say “No duh” in Italian?

To be fair to Italy, which continues to maintain a 3,000-troop presence in Iraq despite enormous anti-war pressure, its reported payoffs to terrorists are dwarfed by the mollycoddlers in Manila and Malaysia, who have fed Abu Sayyaf’s head-chopping kidnappers tens of millions in tribute over the past several years — one that is now reportedly being channeled to worldwide al-Qaida operations.

Still, you would expect a country that once embraced the defiant spirit of Fabrizio Quattrochi — the murdered Italian security guard taken hostage in Iraq last year who stoically told his assassins, “I’m going to show you how an Italian dies” — to resist the Quisling impulse with every fiber of its collective being.

The consequences of capitulation are bloody obvious. When you allow your people to be used as terrorist collection plates, the thugs will keep coming back for more. Might as well hang a sign around the neck of every Italian citizen left in Iraq: Buon appetito.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: berlusconi; giuliana; iraq; italy; malkin; minister; prime; ransom; sgrena; silvio; terrorism; terrorist

1 posted on 03/11/2005 2:58:23 AM PST by familyop
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To: All
The following might lend a speck of insight, although it appears to be a government administered news outlet. It appears that some leaders in Italy are advising a cultural change as a remedy. IMO, a study of cultural and civics attributes might be a good idea for one or two of us who might want to do that. I only learned a little in the past from Italian immigrants and descendents who were the majority in a US community, and there are differing cultural paradigms in such communities--from very calm and analytical to very emotional/sensational, from glamourizations of old cultural problems to oppositions against the same,...

Italy On Line
Special service by AGI on behalf of the Italian Prime Minister's office


SGRENA: GASPARRI ON RANSOM, I AM FOR RESOLUTENESS BUT… (AGI) - Florence, March 9th. - "I do not know if a ransom was paid, it is at least what has been said. Personally I would basically be for a stance of resoluteness, but…", declared the communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, conversing with the chroniclers in Florence and referring to the possibility of a payment of a ransom for the liberation of Giuliana Sgrena. "If I imagine - explained Gasparri - what would have been verified in Italy in the case of a dramatic epilogue… I realise that it is our country that must deal with this kind of emotionalism and sensations".
2 posted on 03/11/2005 3:25:59 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: All

By the way, the Communications Ministry in Italy does monitor online (Web) news and opinions about Italy while conducting public relations work. Some other countries do the same, some to the extent of having Internet writers on payrolls (e.g., Russia).


3 posted on 03/11/2005 3:30:35 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop
an Italian Communist writer who claims American troops in Iraq may have deliberately shot at her car

Didn't catch this angle on this story. Hell, if I knew she was a Communist, I would shoot at her car. Repeatedly.

4 posted on 03/11/2005 3:39:14 AM PST by Hardastarboard
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To: familyop; All
What about the Rule?


5 posted on 03/11/2005 3:52:51 AM PST by bill1952 ("All that we do is done with an eye towards something else.")
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To: Former Dodger; swordfish71

Bump for later!


6 posted on 03/11/2005 3:58:05 AM PST by Former Dodger ("The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think." --Aristotle)
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To: bill1952
What about the Rule?

Indeed.

And because of the breech of etiquette, we demand NEW pics.
7 posted on 03/11/2005 4:02:31 AM PST by WhiteGuy ("a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all" - GW BUSH </sarcasm>)
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To: bill1952; WhiteGuy


;-)
8 posted on 03/11/2005 4:36:00 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop
By paying the kidnapper's, they have financed more terror and death, and most probably more kidnapping.

What part of this equation do they not understand?

How many more have to be killed before they catch on?

9 posted on 03/11/2005 4:45:39 AM PST by BB2
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To: bill1952; WhiteGuy

10 posted on 03/11/2005 4:45:57 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop

Now THAT'S more like it!!

Thanks!


11 posted on 03/11/2005 4:54:37 AM PST by WhiteGuy ("a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all" - GW BUSH </sarcasm>)
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To: familyop
She is close, but no cigar.

The question for investigation is concerned with whether there was an actual abduction and ransom or whether there was payment to the insurgent kitty laundered as a ransom and paid by Italian dupes lacking information to tell the difference.
12 posted on 03/11/2005 5:04:43 AM PST by bert (Peace is only halftime !)
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To: Alia
One ping-y wing-y. Two ping-y wing-y... [snort, snort, guffaw]
13 posted on 03/11/2005 5:10:57 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop
"In principle, we shouldn&#8217;t give in to blackmail, but this time we had to" That is what they said the last time. I remember the Italians kept stallign until the fundamentalists killed one of the four bodyguards. Then Italy stepped in and paid reportedly millions to release the other 3.
14 posted on 03/11/2005 5:15:53 AM PST by ran15
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To: Alia
Here's some assorted background info I grabbed up real quick. And Alia, look into the minds of the speakers quoted. Look for paradoxes/contradictions. We do like to know about our ancestors' roots, but then our ancestors came here for real reasons. Also, things are kinda more rotten in cycles in our various, respective "old countries."

The Australian
"Italy denies paying ransom"
Natasha Bita, Florence
March 11, 2005

"Calipari had obtained security passes to travel in Baghdad and even phoned from his car to alert American military authorities of his 'immediate re-entry in the airport zone', Mr Berlusconi said.

Mr Fini later admitted to RAI television that Calipari had not told American authorities he was in Iraq to rescue a hostage.

'He did not advise what he had come to do in Iraq because we are a sovereign country,' Mr Fini said. 'We have a rapport of absolute loyalty with the US, but not one of subordination.'

Italy had a moral duty to bring home hostages kidnapped on foreign soil, he said.

Mr Fini insisted that Italian hostages had won their freedom through the force of public opinion, and Italy's negotiating skills. "We were capable of activating the political, intelligence and diplomatic channels to convince the kidnappers of the futility of continuing,' he said.
"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reuters, UK
Phil Stewart
Mon Mar 7, 2005 4:47 PM GMT
"Is Italy paying the price for Iraq ransoms?"

"Berlusconi has always denied authorising the payment of ransoms in past kidnappings, saying only that his government had had to make 'difficult choices'. But speaking off the record, officials say large sums of money have changed hands.

Lucia Annunziata, former president of state television RAI, said on Monday that according to calculations made privately by government sources, Italy had paid Sunni guerrillas in Iraq nearly $15 million (7.8 million pounds) for hostages in the past year.

'The frequency of our kidnappings has transformed that which was an extraordinary, emergency option into plain and simple policy,' said Annunziata, who worked in Iraq earlier this year as reporter for La Stampa newspaper.
"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Rome denies it paid ransom"
BY DANIEL WILLIAMS / The Associated Press
Excerpt:
"Foreign Minister Franco Frattini attributed the release of Simona Pari and Simona Torretta to "all the good things Italy has done" in Iraq. But hours earlier, the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee and a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party said flatly that money "was paid."

"It was right because the life of the two girls was more important than money," lawmaker Gustavo Selva told reporters. "In principle, we shouldn't give into blackmail, but this time we had to, although it's a dangerous path. I think it was paid by the intelligence services.
"

As corroborated: "Italian Officials Dispute Reports of Ransom Government Says It Didn't Pay to Free Aid Workers"

By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, September 30, 2004; Page A18
15 posted on 03/11/2005 5:30:03 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop
And I got some for you too! :)

Italy: Who is Manuevering Ransom for Hostages?

16 posted on 03/11/2005 8:56:47 AM PST by Alia
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To: bert
Is there a third option?

Could the Italian "dupes have been in on it?

Could the Italian dupes have gotten a cut?

17 posted on 03/11/2005 9:02:02 AM PST by concrete is my business (keep your friends close and your enemies even closer)
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To: concrete is my business
Actually.... there is a large organization which runs throughout Italy: It's a nationalist Socialist movement. Some of its reps are in government. And Italy's Anarchist Movement links to the worldwide Anarchist movement. When you read their materials, you see, how much they are into all kinds of "resistance". Against their own countries, and especially against all countries involved with the WOT.

Now then. The big question to my line of thinking is:

WHERE DID CERTAIN PLAYERS IN ITALY GET THE MONEY TO PAY CURRENT AND PAST -- HOSTAGE RANSOM. Where did that money come from.

To me, that's the gazillion dollar question.

18 posted on 03/11/2005 9:48:51 AM PST by Alia
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To: TexKat; Seadog Bytes; Berosus; blam; Do not dub me shapka broham; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...
Ping!
19 posted on 03/11/2005 11:15:08 AM PST by SunkenCiv (last updated my FreeRepublic profile on Sunday, February 20, 2005.)
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To: concrete is my business

.....Could the Italian "dupes have been in on it?....

Yes, definitely.

....Could the Italian dupes have gotten a cut?....

Well yes but..... if the funds were raised to idealogically support the insurgents, it would seem that all the money would be passed on.

and of course, the strength of the concrete is inversely proportional to the water cement ratio.


20 posted on 03/11/2005 11:18:00 AM PST by bert (Peace is only halftime !)
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To: bert
That is a big if on the "idealogy of the insurgents".

There may be no honor among these thieves.

I like your tag line.:0)

Mind if I use it over Easter dinner with the left wing of the family?

21 posted on 03/11/2005 12:02:35 PM PST by concrete is my business (keep your friends close and your enemies even closer)
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To: Alia
Wow! Thank you for "Italy: Who is Manuevering Ransom for Hostages?" What we didn't know about this...! I recommend that everyone have a look at that very important background information (with links to evidence).

But on Berlusconi, there is one thing we need to follow-up. We'll find out whether it's a dead end or takes us further.

See the following comment by elli1.

"According the John Gibson (FoxNews): '...The Washington Times is reporting Monday that the $6 million ransom was not Italian government money, but personal funds of the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi — who just happens to be the prime minister.'"
22 posted on 03/11/2005 1:43:20 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: Alia
Alright, here's the result of the first step in the search on whether or not Berlusconi (rich media mogul) pooled the money. ..."pooled," because IMO, if (if) he really did, he did so by collaborating with all parties that he has been able to get his fingers into. Oh, there's so much more I could tell you, and some that I have, in the past... Here's John Gibson's Fox News story.

Here's one Washington Times piece about that, but it refers to the "two simonas" thing and says that Berlusconi paid that ransom. ...might be another Wash. Times piece and maybe more. We'll see.

A thought or two from experience but aside from the facts (and lack of) so far:

Let me tell you, the Mob does get itself popular through media, and it does give a lot to community charities, raising its hands to the applause. You might even remember something about a saddening revelation on the left coast not so long ago--a teeny, weeny look at the dark side of all that. But I contend that that was nada. It gets a lot worse than that.

And a large portion (not all, as some are very anti-) in the cultures of Italy and Greece are the Mob and where one particular operations style of legitimizing crime into government came from.
23 posted on 03/11/2005 2:30:47 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: Alia
"Yet, even as his government officially rebuffed reports of a ransom arrangement in the Sgrena affair, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was quoted by the newspaper Il Messaggero conceding: 'We have to rethink our strategy in dealing with kidnappings.'"

Ah, and see that above.

And while we're at it, let's take a look at a teeny bit of Calipari's history. Yes...more of my guesses from observations in Spooky DeVille. Calipari "fought organized crime." So do the bosses (city councilmen, commissioners, chairmen of the boards, businessmen--even mayors) of many who fight organized crime. After their families get into "legit" business, they don't stop competing with competing gangs. They keep one or two illegit accomplices in the shadows at time, for dirty work. They have all others arrested then hold their hands in the air for the community applause, just like they do in the neighborhoods in the USA. They give to the poor and go to parties.
24 posted on 03/11/2005 2:50:31 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: Alia
Berlusconi's Casa delle Libertà (House of Freedoms) includes Forza Italia ("Go On Italy" or "Come On Italy") and the Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance). Only the Lega Nord (Northern League) broke off from the Casa delle Libertà.

I'll get you some references in a little while. ...need to do a couple of other things first.
25 posted on 03/11/2005 5:11:03 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: familyop

Good work! Keep going.


26 posted on 03/11/2005 5:14:43 PM PST by monkeywrench
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To: monkeywrench; Alia

Pay particular attention to the last sentence and where the broadcast came from. ...same characteristic ambiguity--same kind of denial and admission.

http://www.agi.it/english/news.pl?doc=200503081218-1055-RT1-CRO-0-NF11&page=0&id=agionline-eng.oggitalia
Today in Italy
Special service by AGI on behalf of the Italian Prime Minister's office

SGRENA: BIANCO, WAITING FOR ANSWERS ON POSSIBLE RANSOM
(AGI) - Rome, March 8 - The parliamentary committee controlling secret services and security services "has not yet received answers" by the government on the possible payment of a ransom for the liberation of Giuliana Sgrena, stated Enzo Bianco, committee president, at the microphones of "Radio anch'io". "The fact that Italy could have paid a ransom is a very delicate topic, talked and written about by media, but we are not sure that this really happened. Certainly in Italy the choice not to pay ransoms was a winning choice against the phenomenon of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion, particularly serious during the 70ies, but Baghdad is a completely different reality, Italy is united in undertaking any possible step to free possible hostages".


27 posted on 03/12/2005 1:47:39 AM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

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