As I said here when such a deal was just a rumor, “this will only encourage more hostage-taking, as jihadis will see the chance to free their imprisoned comrades in exchange for Western hostages.”
But the fact that a policy is foolish, wrongheaded and counterproductive has never stopped non-Muslim governments from pursuing it in the past.
“Mali freed four militants in exchange for French hostage: Minister,” PTI, December 13, 2014 (thanks to Lookmann):
Dakar: Mali freed four Islamist militants with ties to al Qaeda in north Africa in exchange for the release of Serge Lazarevic, a French national who was being held by the group, Mali`s justice minister said on Friday.
“Mali cannot deny that it freed them because it is a fact. Everyone knows, it serves no purpose to hide it, but Mali did it under a precise framework,” Mohamed Ali Bathily, told French television channel France24.
The minister did not say what, if anything, Mali itself had gained from the deal that led to the release of Lazarevic, 51, on Tuesday.
“While we could do something to save Lazarevic, Mali had to play its own role,” Bathily said in the interview.
He said the west African nation had done the same kind of deal to free about 30 of its nationals who were captured in the northern city of Kidal, a stronghold of Tuareg separatists….