“Please remember that any payment to a terrorist or a terrorist regime gives money so that they can seize more of our people. We cannot accept that risk,” Pompeo said. “You wouldn’t ask that of us.”
Unlike some other nations, the United States has a longstanding policy of not making concessions or paying ransoms in return for Americans held abroad.
The U.S. government has estimated terrorist groups collected $120 million in ransoms between 2005 and 2012 — with the Islamic State group collecting $20 million in 2014 alone.
“Many of you shared experiences today where you were frustrated that not enough is being done. I can understand how it might seem that way,” Pompeo added during a speech after the private meeting. “I implore you don’t give up, don’t despair, we will not.”