weinstein-abducted-crop_296It’s long been the policy of the United States to flatly refuse to make or facilitate ransom payments to terrorist organizations, as it both encourages hostage taking and finances terrorism.

But now Barack Obama is blurring that line.  And the reason could be even more shocking than the media believes.

The Wall Street Journal reported April 28 that in June 2012, the Obama administration provided an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check on a Pakistani money man to help the family of Warren Weinstein make a $250,000 ransom payment to the terrorist group al Qaeda.

The cash was supposed to secure the release of Weinstein, a 72-year-old American kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaida in 2011.  The cash was handed over to Al Qaeda in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, but the terrorists did not release Weinstein.  He was killed this January in a U.S. drone strike.

The Obama administration encouraged the family to make the payment to al Qaeda. “U.S. officials said the family was particularly encouraged by the ransom option when the FBI said it was probably the best chance to win Mr. Weinstein’s release,” the Journal reported.

As recently as last week, the Obama White House flatly maintained their policy was to refuse making any ransom payments or assisting with such payments.

“This a policy that’s in place because…paying ransom or offering a concession to a terrorist organization may result in the saving of one innocent life, but could put countless other innocent lives at greater risk,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

But confronted with the story, the Obama White House scrambled to play word games about assisting with financial support of al Qaeda.

“Speaking generally, helping with a ransom payment, to use your word, is not tantamount to paying a ransom,” said Earnest in an April 29,2015 press briefing.

“Families that are in this terrible situation are relying heavily on these government experts,” Earnest said. “What’s also true is that we’ve been definitive about our no ransom, no concessions policy. It’s one that’s not subject to this ongoing policy review. That’s because that policy is clearly in our national security interest, that we know extremist organizations only use ransoms to fund their terror activities.”

The Obama administration was assisting with the payment to al Qaeda even as they threatened the families of other U.S. hostages for trying to do the same.

Debra Tice, whose son Austin was taken captive in Syria in August 2012, was warned last year by the FBI that “anyone who donated money knowingly to funding a ransom payment could likewise face prosecution.”

The White House response would make it seem that this is an isolated incident, but it raises lurking questions about the prisoner exchange in which Obama swapped five terrorist leaders for suspected U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

In June 2014, U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking if the Obama administration knew of any deal in which the Haqqani Network terrorist group would be paid in exchange for U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.

The Haqqani Network, which held Bergdahl for five years, funds its terrorist activities in part by ransoming prisoners. They knew the ransom for a uniformed American service member would be immense, and greatly benefit the group’s terrorist activities.

“The Haqqani Network generally does not release Westerners unless they receive a large payment. It would be hard to believe they would release Bergdahl in an exchange that does not directly benefit them,” said Stockman.

“Americans deserve to know if the President paid off a terrorist group,” said Stockman.

Four of the five terrorist leaders Obama exchanged for Bergdahl are Afghan Taliban, not Haqqani, according to Brad Thor. The deal did not include the release of a Haqqani commander in U.S. custody.

The Haqqani Network demanded ransoms for other high-profile captives, such as $5 million for Afghan diplomat Haji Khaliq Farahi and $15 million for New York Times journalist David Rohde. Farahi was freed for his ransom, while Rohde escaped before his ransom could be collected.

Their decision to hold Bergdahl themselves suggested to terrorism experts that the group was seeking a large payment for the American service member.

“The fact that Bergdahl remains in his (Haqqani commander Mullah Sangeen Zadran’s) custody and not in Miran Shah under Badruddin’s watch, suggests that Sangeen maintains considerable autonomy within the network and perhaps imagines he will directly earn a ransom payment in exchange for the American serviceman,” writes Gretchen Peters of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry.”

This has led to concerns that the U.S. government, either directly or through a third party, agreed to a deal in which the Taliban would make cash payments to the Haqqani Network to secure Bergdahl’s release, and the U.S. would in return release Taliban terrorists.  The Haqqanis could then use the cash to carry out more terrorist attacks.

The Defense Department responded to Stockman a week later, but dodged the question.

In a statement to the media, not Stockman, National Security Staff spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden stated, “The United States did not provide money in return for Sgt. Bergdahl.”

But that was not the question asked. The White House was asked if they authorized or knew of any deal in which a third party made the payment.

Limiting their response to only that money from the US was used is only a partial answer. The idea the US government would implicate itself by directly issuing a payment to a terrorist group is highly unlikely, which is why the letter directly referenced third parties.

The Obama administration still has not responded as to whether they knowingly approved a deal in which the Taliban paid cash that was then paid to terrorists in exchange for Bergdahl. This would follow the administration’s now-revealed actions in the Weinstein case.

The Wall Street Journal’s revelations, and the White House’s admissions, raise a troubling possibility.

Did the Obama administration knowingly violate U.S. policy and aid terrorism by approving a deal in which five terrorist leaders were released, and a huge cash payment was made to a terrorist group in exchange for a U.S. Army deserter?