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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Cameron slams close allies over ransoms paid to jihadis

Peter Dominiczak

Published 05/09/2014 | 02:30

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A vigil at the University of Central Florida yesterday to honour Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by Islamic State militants in two weeks

British Prime Minister David Cameron last night rounded on some of his closest NATO colleagues for paying ransoms to Isil terrorists, warning that they were causing more violence and kidnappings.

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He said countries that have paid ransoms were helping jihadis to "wreak havoc" and could threaten British national security. Germany, France, Italy and Spain are all thought to have paid ransoms in exchange for hostages.

Italy and Spain are understood to have paid ransoms directly to Isil. At last year's G8 summit in Britain, nations signed up to a policy of never paying ransoms to terrorists.

Mr Cameron used a dinner last night to sharply criticise NATO leaders for breaking that pledge. Ransoms have allegedly been paid for the release of six hostages in recent months.

Mr Cameron will raise his concerns with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Francois Hollande, the French president, and Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister. He said that although it was "difficult" for the families of British hostages, he was convinced that ransoms should never be paid.

"I know it is difficult to hear, and I've thought about this very carefully, but I'm absolutely convinced that the policy of not paying ransoms to terrorists for kidnaps is right," Mr Cameron said.

"And I'm in no doubt that those countries that have allowed ransoms to be paid, that has ended up with terrorist groups, including this terrorist group [Isil], having tens of millions of dollars that they can spend on kidnapping other hostages, on preparing terrorist plots, including against us here in the United Kingdom, and in buying arms and weapons to wreak havoc."

Mr Cameron said that he would now "try to ensure" that all NATO members abide by the agreed policy.

"We have that policy, we should try to ensure that others should have that policy," he said. "I got world leaders to sign up to that at the G8 summit in the North."

His comments come after a jihadi with a British accent threatened the life of David Haines, a Scottish hostage being held by Isil. Mr Cameron added: "We don't pay ransoms to terrorists when they kidnap our citizens. On other occasions, payments have been made and sometimes I think governments have turned a blind eye and I think that is deeply regrettable.

"From the intelligence and other information I have seen, there is no doubt this money helps to fuel the crisis that we see in Iraq and Syria."

A Government source said that the prime minister would tell NATO leaders they "shouldn't be paying [ransoms]". (© Daily Telegraph)

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