What did I tell you?
The authorities tracked Sheik al Hilaly’s movement when they used him as the intermediary to negotiate with the insurgents. The aim was to locate and snatch Wood from the insurgents without paying the agreed ramson – in other words the authorities aimed to double cross the insurgents (and probably the Sheik as well, who had been acting in good faith).
While that double crossing act in itself shouldn’t unduly worry us insofar as dealing with the insurgents are concerned, there were certain dangers and disadvantages involved in that hardline policy insistence:
(a) Wood’s and the Sheik’s lives were unnecessarily imperilled,
(b) The Sheik’s honour as a neutral contact-negotiator was shot to shreds (he would be in mortal danger should he ever return to Iraq),
(c) The avenue for possible future negotiations insofar as using the Sheik is forever closed,
and most important of all (and why the Sheik cried on TV),
(d) Since Wood could have been released 10 days earlier, wouldn’t that have also freed the two Iraqi hostages killed just one week before Wood was “discovered accidentally”?
The American policy of 'no negotiation' has been to ensure that no ransom money could be used to fund the insurgents' activities. As I mentioned, to what extent the US had required of the Australians in upholding this hardline policy of 'no negotiation' is something to reflect upon, but the probability is very high. I do not believe for an instant that Australia took all the above risks (lives of Wood and Sheik) and setbacks (cutting off future avenues) just for one lousy hundred thousand dollars.
I am once again reminded of the tragedy surrounding the negotiated release of Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena, where the American soldiers poured fire on her car on its way to Baghdad airport, killing an Italian agent, Nicola Calipari. According to this analysis the aim for the US attack on Sgrena's car was to teach the Italians a lesson.
We should all be thankful Douglas Wood was eventually rescued without being 'sacrificed' away, perhaps for an American policy.
Rescue of Douglas Wood was No Big Sheik
Post-Rescue Gungho Behaviour of Douglas Wood Dangerous to Other Hostages