Al Qaeda makes millions of dollars off of kidnapping people


A car lies upside-down, vandalized on June 17 by Christian mobs in reprisal for a suicide bomb attack. Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on three churches that sparked reprisals by Christian mobs who rampaged and burned mosques, killing least 52 people.


Victor Ulasi

Al Qaeda might be known for its extreme views and senseless violence, but when it comes to kidnapping people, Al Qaeda has a disturbingly sensible take on the matter. Islamist militants are funding themselves by kidnapping people and demanding millions of dollars in ransoms, Reuters reported. Al Qaeda made about $120 million on ransoms this past decade. 

"It is what has become perhaps the most challenging and fastest growing technique that terrorist organizations, in particular the affiliates of Al Qaeda in North Africa and in Yemen, have been using to fund themselves over the last couple of years," David Cohen, the United States undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told Agence France-Presse.

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The White House is especially concerned about North Africa. US officials have been holding secret meetings in recent months to examine Al Qaeda's role in North Africa, the Washington Post reported

“Right now, we’re not in position to do much about it,” said a senior US counterterrorism official told the Post. 

Last month a new video of four French men kept as hostages by Al Qaeda in Niger was released. The men, who were kidnapped two years ago, were shown asking French officials to negotiate their release. The kidnappers have demanded 90 million euros.