A new report has reveal that the United States of America’s government did not feel that British intelligence on the location of ISIS prisoners was good enough and held up a rescue mission for over a month. By the time that the Obama administration gave the go ahead on the mission to retrieve the hostages they had already been moved.
British officials, as well as private contractors, have been quoted as saying they were frustrated by Washington’s refusal to act on the information that they had been given. The mission was eventually carried out on July 4, 2014, by which time the hostages had been moved. In July ISIS began beheading its American and British prisoners in a series of videos.
The report indicated that towards the end of May of last year, British intelligence had located “two or three locations” in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, where the militants had moved hostages during the previous months. The issue with this information, and the reason for Washington’s trepidation, was that the intelligence agencies involved were not absolutely sure in which location the Westerners were held in May. The captives included American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well aid worker Kayla Mueller.
Then, in early June, British secret services had a “positive identification and that information was shared with Washington,” said a British source. The month long delay before the rescue bid was mounted remains a source of “bewilderment” for British officials.
A U.S. official said that inside the White House, Obama’s senior national-security advisers were not willing to base a raid on intelligence developed by a foreign agency. “The issue was that they didn’t trust it, and they wanted to develop and mature the intelligence, because it wasn’t our own,” said the U.S. official, who will remain anonymous when discussing sensitive hostage-rescue efforts. He would however continue to say, “They got the information. They just didn’t trust it. And they did sit on it, there’s no doubt about that.”
Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokesperson stated, “U.S. forces conducted this rescue operation as soon as the president and his national-security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations.”
Diane Foley, the mother of James Foley, the first American to be shown murdered on camera, has also raised questions about the timing of the rescue effort. Mrs Foley has stated in interviews that French officials had developed information about the hostages’ location as early as March, but that the U.S. government again did not act upon it. “That was part of our frustration,” she said, “The State Department said they were connecting with the French and everybody at the highest levels.” How then was the U.S. government unable to respond? Mrs Foley continued to say, “Very specific information was available as early as mid-March. And that’s what’s been so tough for us as families, because apparently they were held in the same place all those months,”
Rescue missions are by their nature dangerous, and some of the recent attempts have ended in the death of hostages. The parents and brothers and sisters of the Americans held by ISIS, including the parents of Foley and Sotloff, have a right to feel aggrieved though. More should have been done, more was not done and the families now say that the U.S. government did not do enough to rescue their loved ones.
I sincerely hope that this story isn’t as cut and dry as American’s wouldn’t put a rescue mission into effect simply because the information wasn’t their own. We here in England are the arguably the closest ally of America and yet our information does not warrant an effective response? How about the French? Yet another major European power with strong ties to America who had information about the victims which was ignored.
With this latest report coming to light maybe American foreign relations in regards to shared information given by allies will be given more weight in the White House. Or maybe more hostages will be forced to die before America recognises that their allies are there to help get our countrymen home and away from the terrorists who wish to harm us through them.