Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn, RZAMr. Phillips is president of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia Chapter; Mr. Korn, the former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, is chairman of the RZA-Philadelphia.
When Islamist terrorists kidnapped three American citizens in the Philippines, the U.S. government offered a multimillion dollar reward for information leading to the capture of the abductors.
Yet no reward is being offered for the capture in Israel of the Islamist terrorists who kidnapped an American citizen, and two other boys, earlier this month -- even though the kidnappers' names are now publicly known.
Why the double standard?
The U.S. government's "Rewards for Justice" program was created years ago, based on the demonstrated fact that monetary rewards often persuade eyewitnesses and other individuals with information about terrorists to come forward.
The program is described in detail at a U.S. government website, www.rewardsforjustice.net, where an informant can submit a tip by email, or by a toll-free number. Information about the rewards is also printed on posters, leaflets, and even matchbooks that are distributed in the kinds of places where a potential informant might see them.
In fact, that's how the U.S. captured one of the world's most notorious terrorists, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, mastermind of the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, in New York City, in which six people were killed and more than one thousand injured. "In February 1995," the rewards web site reports, "an informant, seeing a Rewards for Justice matchbook and motivated by the reward, went to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan and provided information leading to Yousef's capture by the authorities." As a result, Yousef is currently serving multiple sentences of life imprisonment in a federal prison in Colorado.
The Yousef case is one of nine examples described on the Rewards for Justice website under "Success Stories." Of the other eight captured suspects who are listed there, half were involved in a kidnapping case which was similar in some respects to the current kidnapping in Israel.
In both cases, the abductors were Islamist terrorists, and in both cases there were three victims. In Israel, three boys are being held hostage by the Islamist terror group Hamas. One of the three is a 16 year-old American citizen, Naftali Frankel. The other case involved in the Islamist terror group "Abu Sayyaf," which is based in the Philippines. In May 2001, they kidnapped three Americans there.
The rewards offered, and then paid, by the Rewards for Justice program led the authorities to the four Abu Sayyaf kidnappers: Hamsirali Sali and Toting Hanno were arrested and convicted; Khadaffy Jarjalani and Abu Solaiman were tracked down by the Filipino armed forces and then killed after they opened fire on the troops.
It's bad enough that the Obama administration failed to offer a reward for the Hamas kidnappers during the first two weeks following the abduction. But now that the Israeli government has publicly identified the kidnappers by name, how can the administration justify refuse to offer a reward?
The promise of a hefty payment just might coax someone to come forward with information that could help.
On June 26 the Israeli authorities announced that fugitive Hamas terrorists Marwan Quasma, 29, and Amar Abu Eisha, 32, both residents of Hebron, are the lead suspects in the kidnapping of American citizen Naftali Frankel and the two other teenagers.
The promise of a hefty payment just might coax someone to come forward with information that could help the Israeli authorities capture Quasma and Eisha, and rescue the abducted boys. The Obama administration claims that most Palestinian Arabs are peace-loving and opposed to terrorism. So why is it so far-fetched to think that there is one Palestinian Arab out there who might help turn in the terrorists?
Or maybe the informant would be someone with a personal grudge or a family feud against Quasma and Eisha, who would turn them in out of spite. Maybe it would be someone who was cheated by one of them in a business deal. Or perhaps someone they bulled in high school. Who cares what the motive might be? Why not offer the reward, and see what happens?
Reporters at the daily White House and State Department press briefings should be asking why no reward has been posted atwww.rewardsforjustice.net. American friends of Israel should be calling the White House to demand that rewards be offered. Anyone who cares about justice should be contacting their Members of Congress to ask the same thing.
President Obama and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, this week expressed their "concern" about the fate of the three boys kidnapped in Israel. It's time for them to translate that concern into concrete action.
[The authors are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America.]