Washington (CNN)The family of Warren Weinstein, an American who was held hostage by al Qaeda for four years before he was killed in a U.S. drone strike, received assistance from the FBI when they paid a ransom to individuals claiming to be his captors in 2012, sources told CNN.
“Over the three and a half year period of Warren’s captivity, the family made every effort to engage with those holding him or those with the power to find and rescue him,” a spokesman for the family said in a statement on Wednesday.
The news of the ransom was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“This is an ordinary American family and they are not familiar with how one manages a kidnapping,” the statement continued. “As such, they took the advice of those in government who deal with such issues on a regular basis and were disappointed that their efforts were not ultimately successful.”
A U.S. official told CNN the decision to pay ransom is a personal one by a hostage’s family, but once that decision is made the FBI isn’t going to abandon the family and will take appropriate steps to make sure they make a fully informed decision as they go through the process.
America’s policy is to NOT pay ransoms to hostage takers. The reason is that we don’t want to encourage people and groups to take American hostages as a means of obtaining revenue to further their activities. If we pay a ransom, it might – might – free one hostage, but it makes it more likely that more people will be taken hostage.
In this case, the family can do whatever they want, but our government should not have helped them. Their help is a tacit endorsement of the policy of paying ransoms by the United States government and directly contradicts long-held policy.