ROME — Italy’s Red Cross treated four Iraq insurgents — with the knowledge of the Italian government — last year and hid them from U.S. forces in exchange for the freedom of two kidnapped aid workers, a top Italian Red Cross official said in an interview published Thursday.
Maurizio Scelli, chief of the Italian Red Cross, told the Turin newspaper La Stampa that he had kept the deal secret from U.S. officials, complying with “a nonnegotiable condition” imposed by Iraqi mediators who helped him secure the release of Simona Pari and Simona Torretta. The women were abducted in Baghdad on Sept. 7 and freed Sept. 28.
“The mediators asked us to save the lives of four alleged terrorists wanted by the Americans who were wounded in combat,” Scelli was quoted as saying. “We hid them and brought them to Red Cross doctors, who operated on them.”
The Red Cross workers took the wounded insurgents to a Baghdad hospital in a jeep and an ambulance, smuggling them through two U.S. checkpoints under blankets and boxes of medicine, Scelli said.
Also as part of the deal, four Iraqi children with leukemia were brought to Italy for treatment, he said.
Scelli said he had informed Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government of the deal, and the decision to hide it from the U.S., through Gianni Letta, an undersecretary in charge of Italy’s hostage crises in Iraq.
In a statement Thursday, the Italian government stopped short of denying that it knew about the deal. It said Scelli had acted independently and that the government “never conditioned or oriented his action, which … was developed in complete autonomy.”
Why don’t these people understand? We do not negotiate, we do not make deals, with terrorists. Period. We all want the safe return of hostages taken by these monsters, but if said monsters get the idea that they can leverage favors with hostages (an idea they certainly already have thanks to the Italian government’s official dealings with them, which is also probably why Italians keep getting kidnapped) then they’re just going to keep doing it.
Appeasement is not a solution, which is one of the basic tenets of the war on terrorism. We don’t negotiate with terrorists for hostages because doing what they want us to do will only lead to more kidnappings. We also don’t back down when the terrorists hit us with roadside bombs and subway explosions, because doing what they want us to do will only lead to more attacks.
I wish more people got this.
By Rob Port of Say Anything.