In a move reminiscent of JPMorgan's acquisition of Bear Stearns, the Department of Defense has taken over the contract on Abu Ayyub al-Masri for the fire clearance price of just two cents on the dollar.
As recently as last September, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq had a market valuation of five million dollars in reward money, but has seen his worth drop steadily after underperforming in a rapidly changing Iraqi marketplace. The State Department has seen his value dip by 80%, closing at only one million this April.
"We're quite pleased that DOD has expressed an interest in acquiring al-Masri," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "Quite frankly, when an asset drops as rapidly as this one did, the only option is to either sell or liquidate."
U.S. CENTCOM spokesman Captain Jamie Graybeal feels that the al-Masri contract is in line with DOD's current policy of making small acquisitions.
"The value of this guy is not what it was, say, at this time last year," said Graybeal. "Our assessment has led us to believe he's not as effective a leader on the battlefield ... and because of that he's just not as valuable to us. But I feel we can turn this thing around. The truth is that the average Iraqi has no concept of how much five million dollars is. It's an abstract number, almost impossible for them to comprehend. A hundred thousand, on the other hand, is manageable. It's like having a thousand dollars one hundred times. I imagine that someone will turn him in within the next week or two."
al-Masri released a statement through an al-Qaeda web site calling the current reward 'insulting', and threatening to stay in hiding until his value returned 'to at least seven figures'.
"This guy is obviously a financial moron," said Graybeal. "Yeah, just stay off the market for a few more months and see how quickly we write you off as a total loss."
©2008, Mark Hoback