Â Andrew BoltÂ
AUSTRALIA will be a key Âmember of an expanded US-led coalition of countries to engage in air strikes and other possible military activity in Iraq against the “significant’’ threat of the Islamic State.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last night revealed that Australia would provide military assistance for the air strikes as soon as a formal request was made, but emphasised there would be no troops on the ground…
“Of course the bigger risk could well be doing nothing and enabling ISIL to spread its poison, its ideology way beyond Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and that’s the concern that Australia faces,” Ms Bishop said. “We are taking it very seriously.”
Note that we are fighting terrorists who have been supplied with cash by weaker Western countries:
British Prime Minister David Cameron …Â used the NATO dinner to urge allies not to pay ransoms for captives held by terrorist groups, amidÂ reports hostages from France and Italy had been released following large payments. He said such payments were “deeply regrettable” and “utterly self-defeating” and warned that the money was used for weapons and training.
Four French journalists were released in April after also being kidnapped in Syria, including Didier FranÃ§ois and Nicolas HÃ©nin, who at one point were held with [beheaded US hostage James] Foley. President FranÃ§ois Hollande, who welcomed them home, has insisted France does not pay ransoms.
But the New York Times suggested that France had in fact paid a total of â‚¬43m (Â£34m) in ransoms since 2008 through French companies and other firms. The German magazine Focus claimed the French government paid $18m (Â£10.8m) for the release of four journalists abducted in Syria. Focus cited Nato sources to report that the French defence minister had sent the money to Turkey, where it had been handed over to the kidnappers by Turkish secret service agents.
British aid worker … David Haines [who the Islamic State says will be the next hostage it beheads] was regularly beaten by his captors, who may have singled him out for ill-treatment because of his nationality… He was working for the French aid organisation Acted (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) at the Atmeh refugee camp in northern Syria when he was abducted on March 12, 2013…
Federico Motka, an Italian-Swiss aid worker who was kidnapped with him, was freed in May this year after the Italian government reportedly paid a ransom of almost Â£5 million.
Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.
While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found 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.
These huge amounts do not include the millions now paid to the Islamic State. The figures reveal that France is the biggest Western paymaster of al Qaeda.