House intel chairman: Raid should ‘reengage’ ransom debate

Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersDOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Mich.) said the failed raid to free an American hostage in Yemen should “reengage” the debate over paying ransom for hostages.

But Rogers, the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also made it clear that he agrees with current policies against paying ransom to groups such as al Qaeda, which was holding American photojournalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korki before killing both in Saturday morning’s raid.

“What we know is they are still trying to ransom,” Rogers said of al Qaeda’s Yemen operation.


“I think this should reengage the debate about ransom. When you pay ransoms, you get more kidnapping,” he said. “It’s certainly what we saw across Africa, we’re certainly seeing it in Yemen as well.”

Rogers, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, said countries that pay ransom for their hostages end up funding al Qaeda’s terrorist operations. Al Qaeda’s northern Africa branch was, until about 2012, the largest money contributor to the organization, thanks to its success in getting ransom.

“That’s a pretty bad plan to start with,” he said.

Rogers said he agreed with President Obama’s decision not to pay ransom, and instead to send a special forces team in to rescue him.

“I don’t think this was an easy decision. I do think it was the right decision, to actually engage and try to go in for a rescue attempt,” Rogers said.

“I commend the president for acting, because the intelligence showed an urgency to get in, where they were going to kill this American hostage anyway.”