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Terrorism Expert Says Negotiating Release Of Indianapolis Man Being Held By ISIS Would Be Tricky

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We may never know whether anyone is negotiating with ISIS for the release of a hostage from Indianapolis, but one terrorism expert says talks are more than likely to be futile.   

"This is a situation where ISIS, or ISIL by whichever name you prefer, has an agenda very different from our own," said Peter Beering, former terrorism preparedness director for Indianapolis who is now a consultant. "Their agenda is one colored by their own interests, where as we are a nation-state, and we have certain interests which we are entitled to defend."

While the official position of the United States is to not negotiate with terrorists or terrorist groups, Beering says it is possible that an effort is taking place behind the scenes to free Abdul Rahman Kassig. On whether that effort will work Beering says, "negotiating with people who are not playing within the normal conventions of society is, at best, a risky proposition."   

Kassig was named the next target of ISIS in a video last week that showed the beheading of British hostage Alan Henning. The former Hanover College and Butler University student was taken hostage October 1, 2013 while working in Syria for a humanitarian group he had founded. While some believe the U.S. should meet whatever demands ISIS has made for Kassig‘s release, Beering says it isn‘t that easy.

"We find ourselves in a difficult position in a difficult part of the world with a lot of factors that lend itself to an unstable environment," he says.

ISIS has demanded an end to U.S. airstrikes aimed at its operations in Syria and Iraq, a position that puts the U.S. on the same side of the conflict as the Syrian government, with which the U.S. has been at odds over its killing of thousands of Syrians who oppose the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad.   Beering doesn‘t blame Kassig‘s parents for doing what they can to appeal for their son‘s release, both directly to ISIS and to the federal government. But he says the government is not to blame for the deaths of any hostages.

"It‘s tempting to come up with facile answers to this complicated problem," says Beering, "but it is quite an intricate collection of issues."

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