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President Barack Obama: Ransom for American hostages makes others targets

PHOENIX — President Barack Obama told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that meeting the Islamic State’s ransom demands would likely make Americans riper targets for kidnappings.

In an interview, Obama was asked about Prescott, Arizona native Kayla Mueller, who was killed after being kidnapped by ISIS. He said telling her family the United States would not pay a rumored $6 million-plus ransom was not easy.

“It’s as tough as anything I do,” he said. “Having a conversation with parents who understandably want, by any means necessary, for their children to be safe.”

Obama said not paying ransoms has less to do with the nation’s policy of negotiating with terrorists and more about creating less targets for hostile organizations.

“Just as a general rule, what we don’t want to do is make other American citizens riper targets for the actions of organizations like this,” he said.

Some have criticized the Obama administration for not taking ISIS threats seriously, but Obama said he ordered a failed raid sought to rescue Mueller and others.

“I deployed an entire operation at significant risk to rescue, not only her, but the other individuals who had been held, and probably missed them by a day or two,” he said.

Obama called Mueller’s death “heartbreaking.”

“She was an outstanding young woman and a great spirit,” he said.