“It’s the scale here that we’re talking about that’s astounding. Taking a group like this all at once… It’s really… It’s a nightmarish scenario, to be honest,” Kohlmann said.

He said he suspected bel Mokhtar was trying “to ingratiate himself to some of these other new jihadi movements in West Africa.”

“And what greater way than to do something like this where not only does he get a lot of media attention, but potentially he makes millions of dollars on ransom payments? And that’s what these guys are really motivated by — money,” Kohlman said.