South Korea paid $20 million ransom to Taliban

Sunday Scotsman:

SOUTH Korea paid Afghanistan's Taliban more than $20m (£10m) to release 19 missionaries they were holding hostage, a senior insurgent leader said yesterday, vowing to use the funds to buy arms and mount suicide attacks.

The freed hostages flew out of Afghanistan on Friday to Dubai en route to South Korea.

Seoul denies paying a ransom, but critics say negotiating with the Taliban sets a dangerous precedent that could spur more kidnappings - which the Taliban have vowed to carry out.

"We deny any payment for the release of South Korean hostages," an official at South Korea's presidential Blue House said in response to the Taliban claim.

But the Taliban disagreed. "We got more than $20m from them [the Seoul government]," a commander, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.

"With it we will purchase arms, get our communication network renewed and buy vehicles for carrying out more suicide attacks.

"The money will also address to some extent the financial difficulties we have had."

The commander is on the 10-man leadership council of the Islamist Taliban movement, which is led by the elusive Mullah Mohammed Omar.

He rejected an Afghan government claim that a senior Taliban leader, Mullah Brother, was killed in a US-led operation on Thursday in the southern province of Helmand.

...

If the Taliban claim is true, then the Afghans and our allies will pay a high price for the arrogance and folly of the missionaries and the willingness of South Korea to give money to our enemies. I do think the Taliban spokesman is lying about the death of Mullah Brother. He is described as Mullah Berader in this story detailing how the British forces encountered his units and called in the Apache helicopters to take him out.

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