According to the New York Post, Lucia Annunziata, former president of Italian state television RAI, said government sources estimate Italy has paid kidnappers nearly $15 million for hostages in the past year alone. Indeed, last September, Gustavo Selva, chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee, confirmed that two Italian aid workers -- who praised their kidnappers as "resisters" -- were freed after the government paid at least $1 million in cash to their Iraqi captors.
The admission came after heated denials by top government officials. Selva, auditioning Italy for a spot in the Axis of Weasels pantheon, mused at the time: "In principle, we shouldn't give in to blackmail, but this time we had to, although it's a dangerous path to take because, obviously, it could encourage others to take hostages, either for political reasons or for criminal reasons."
How do you say "No duh" in Italian?
To be fair to Italy, which continues to maintain a 3,000-troop presence in Iraq despite enormous anti-war pressure, its reported payoffs to terrorists are dwarfed by the mollycoddlers in Manila and Malaysia, who have fed Abu Sayyaf's head-chopping kidnappers tens of millions in tribute over the past several years -- money that is now reportedly being channeled to worldwide al Qaeda operations.
Still, you would expect a country that once embraced the defiant spirit of Fabrizio Quattrochi -- the murdered Italian security guard taken hostage in Iraq last year who stoically told his assassins, "I'm going to show you how an Italian dies" -- to resist the Quisling impulse with every fiber of its collective being.
The consequences of capitulation are bloody obvious. When you allow your people to be used as terrorist collection plates, the thugs will keep coming back for more. Might as well hang a sign around the neck of every Italian citizen left in Iraq: Buon appetito.
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