The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly helped facilitate a ransom payment to al-Qaeda in 2012 by the family of dead American hostage Warren Weinstein in an unsuccessful attempt to free him.
The FBI examined a Pakistani middleman used by the Weinstein family to transport $250,000 and provided other intelligence to enable the financial exchange with al-Qaeda terrorists, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing senior American officials.
The FBI told the family the Pakistani intermediary appeared to be legitimate and not part of a scam to steal the family’s money, these officials said.
The FBI actions encouraged the family to go ahead with the transaction, some senior US officials said. At the same time, the family was told that al-Qaeda might not release Weinstein even if it received the money.
The FBI’s previously undisclosed role reveals a contradiction in long-established US policy that forbids making concessions to terrorists and prohibits paying ransoms for releasing hostages.
White House officials say paying ransoms would encourage terrorist organizations to take more hostages.