The UN forbids the transfer of money to designated terrorist groups. Private persons and entities cannot legally make concessions to proscribed groups, and if they do, their insurers cannot legally reimburse them, though ransom-payers are rarely if ever prosecuted. But it’s not always clear which category kidnappers fit into. Some terrorists pretend to be part of criminal organizations so that they can legally collect ransoms. Shortland reports that when a Somali told British negotiators that he represented the ‘commercial arm’ of al-Shabaab, the jihadist fundamentalist group, ’they had to explain that this was not sufficiently removed from the parent organization to have a payment authorized.’
I need Squirrel Hill to return to its right size. It feels weirdly out of scale at the moment, like an enormous parade balloon version of itself. Every cable news crawl has the words ‘Squirrel Hill’ in it. I am trying to shrink the neighbourhood back down, in my mind, to the place where I have picked my son up from preschool, from circus camp, from swimming lessons, leading him out of the tiled Jewish Community Center hallway to the tiny parking garage where I always narrowly miss denting another exhausted parent’s car.