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Foley captors' ransom demand revives debate over US no-pay policy

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

The militant Islamist group that murdered freelance journalist James Foley had demanded a ransom from the US government before his beheading.

But the US has a strict policy of not paying ransoms to terrorist groups, putting it at odds with several European countries who have paid in the past to free hostages. Mr. Foley's death has revived the debate over the policy. The New York Times reported recently that ransoms have bankrolled Al Qaeda operations worldwide.

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US Acknowledges Unsuccessful Syria Rescue Attempt

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

The United States acknowledged Wednesday it launched an unsuccessful military rescue operation earlier this year to free American hostages held by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria. The announcement came the same day President Barack Obama condemned the execution of an American journalist and called for regional action to extract the IS extremist "cancer" before it spreads.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the United States attempted to rescue a number of American hostages held by “a particular captor network” within IS in Syria. He said the air and ground operation was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location. 

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Ukraine Border Guards Begin Approving Russian Aid Convoy

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

Ukrainian border guards began on Thursday to inspect a Russian truck convoy carrying aid earmarked for humanitarian relief in eastern Ukraine that has been stranded at the border between the two former Soviet republics for nearly a week.

Ukraine's border guard service said that its troops had begun checking the first vehicles in the more than 200-truck convoy as they finally begin the process of entering Ukraine.

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Militants’ Beheading Video Suggests New Anti-West Strategy

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

The Islamic State group's beheading of a U.S. journalist and its threat to “destroy the American cross” suggests it has gained enough confidence seizing large areas of Iraq and Syria to take aim at American targets despite the risks.

On Tuesday night, Islamic State released a video showing a militant executing American freelance journalist James Foley. He was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago.

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Nigerian Soldiers Defy Orders to Deploy Against Boko Haram

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

Nigerian soldiers say they defied orders to launch an operation against Boko Haram militants because the soldiers were not adequately armed.

The soldiers say the incident happened Saturday, when soldiers with Nigeria's 21st Armored Brigade were told to advance toward Gwoza and Daiwa, two parts of Borno state where the militants are active.

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Gaza Fighting Intensifies After Senior Hamas Leaders Killed

Published by: American Security Council Foundation ASCF

Air bombardments and rocket fire between Israel and Gaza intensified Thursday after Israeli air strikes killed three senior Hamas commanders overnight.

The Israeli military said its forces pounded rocket installations in the Gaza Strip as dozens of rockets landed in southern Israel.

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U.S. still has time to stake out a position of strength on Ukraine

Published by: John Bolton

American and European stock markets have been jumpy for weeks as they contemplate possible armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Inside Ukraine, certainly, Kiev's forces have been pushing back separatists supported by Moscow , and they've been surprisingly successful in the eyes of many, perhaps including Moscow, and have thus increased fears of a more direct Russian intervention. But while rumors of clashes last week contributed to the latest burst of market volatility, evidence of actual hostilities between national armies is scarce.

Ironically, while Western capital markets remain attentive to Ukraine's future, President Obama seems detached and uninterested. Indeed, the president appears removed not only from Ukraine, but from the chaos across the Middle East. But lazy summer days on Martha's Vineyard cannot obscure the reality of Russia's continuing efforts to dominate the independent countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.

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