The New America Foundation hosted a discussion on U.S. hostage policy. Panelists included former FBI negotiator Gary Noesner…View the Discussion
“FBI Takedowns” – Kill Shots – Link no longer available
Aired: March 23, 2015
“FBI Takedowns” a segment called “Kill Shot” aired at 10p on the American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel). You can view the episode on YouTube by clicking the link above. This episode will be rebroadcast at different times so check the AHC schedule. The program covers the 1988 Sperryville, Va incident featured in the first chapter of my book. I and other agents were interviewed for this program, which includes an re-enactment of the incident.
My 30 minute on camera interview got boiled down to a few quick sound bites. Viewing the two brief sound bites one may conclude that I am criticizing governments who have paid large ransom payments to terrorists, while also saying the U.S. Governments approach to these matters should be more flexible than it now is. That is indeed what I meant and that is not as inconsistent as it may seem. To clarify, I don’t believe any government should ever pay money to a terrorist group, but we should always try to negotiate (having a dialogue is not capitulating). Negotiation is a strategic tool, not a sign of weakness.
Only a very small fraction of kidnappings are perpetuated by terrorist groups, as in the Foley case. Well over 90% of kidnappings are undertaken by criminal gangs. Families or employers may have little choice but to pay a ransom or never see the hostage alive again. If negotiated smartly, a reasonable ransom payment may be the only viable option for a safe release, and in my opinion the government should not attempt to stop families or employees from taking such life saving action. As we always said in the FBI, save the victim first, and if we can’t get the bad guys now, we will get them later. I always ask officials what they would do if it was their child being held hostage and threatened. Gary Noesner.