MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

1 July A hostage being held with 31 abducted Turkish truck drivers working for the Turkish transport company, Mehmet Izil and being held by the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS), said during a telephone call that ISIL/ISIS are demanding USD50,000 in ransom for the release of each truck. The caller also said that ISIL/ISIS also demanded USD10 million from Mehmet Izil as soon as they kidnapped the drivers but officials denied any ransom had been demanded. On 3 July, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told a news conference the 32 hostages had been released and handed over to Turkish diplomats. A senior Turkish diplomat stated that the truck drivers were being held by members of a local tribe that obeys the Islamic State but not the Islamist group itself.

4 July A spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said during a daily briefing on the security situation in Iraq that 46 Indian nurses had been taken hostage by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This brings to 85 the number of Indian hostages being held by ISIS. The nurses have been moved to Mosul where 39 Indian construction workers are being held hostage. On 6 July it was reported that the nurses had been released and were travelling by Air India back home. However, there was no news of the fate of the construction workers.

12 July During an interview, Hussain Al Shahrastani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, revealed that Indian hostages detained in Mosul are being moved from place to place by the militants and it is difficult for the Iraqi security forces to confirm were they are being held. He added that it was not only Indians who had been kidnapped but also Chinese nationals who were working at a power plant near Baiji. In the latter case, the security forces managed to react quickly and rescue them. Replying to a question about the nature of the ISIS mini army that captured Mosul, Shahrastani said the force was “a few hundred mostly Chechens, Afghans, Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and some Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, Yemenis and Pakistanis. The commanders are Chechens, Saudi Arabians, Tunisians, Syrians and Iraqis”.

15 July Two Chaldean nuns, Sisters Miskintah and Utoor Joseph, and three Assyrians, Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba and Aram Sabah, were released without the payment of a ransom after being kidnapped by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) three weeks earlier in Mosul. They had returned to Mosul on 28 June to check on an abandoned all-girl orphanage near Miskintah Church, Khazrah, that they managed.

31 July The brother of one of the kidnapped Turkish diplomats complained that government officials are not answering the questions from the families of the hostages. The al Qaeda affiliated militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), kidnapped all the Turkish diplomatic staff in the consulate general in Mosul including the Consul-General, special forces personnel and children, on 11 June. The Turkish government imposed a gagging order on reports of the hostage crisis immediately after the hostage taking.

Israel

1 July Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) explosives experts supported by engineering units, demolished the home of Marwan Qawasmeh (29), one of the suspects in the abduction and murder of Eyal Yifrah (19), Gil-Ad Shaer (16) and Naftali Frankel (16). A similar operation was planned for the home of Amer Abu Aisheh (33), the other main suspect. The IDF believe Qawasmeh and Aisheh are still in Judea and Samaria.

2 July The body of a Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khudair (16), was found by police in the Jerusalem forest. Palestinian residents in Shuafat, an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, said they had seen a teenager being forced into a vehicle outside a supermarket the previous night. The discovery of the body raised suspicions that the youth had been kidnapped and killed by Israelis in revenge for the death of the three Israeli youths, Gil-Ad Shaer (16), Eyal Yifrah (19) and Naftali Frankel (16) who were abducted and killed by Palestinians in June.

Lebanon

6 July Qassem Husseini from Shmustar village near Baalbek, was arrested along with his brother and close aide, Zein al Abidine al Husseini. Qassem is accused of being the leader of a major kidnapping ring operating in the northern Bekaa Valley town of Brital. His gang had at least 50 members and is responsible for carrying out major kidnapping for ransom operations in recent years.

17 July Mohammed al Qadi, an engineer, was kidnapped by gunmen on the outskirts of Arsal in the Bekaa Valley. Two days earlier, a Palestinian, Mohammed Jaber, was kidnapped by an unidentified group of men in the Khraibeh plains near Baalbek.

27 July Abdul Karim Ali was released by his kidnappers after five days in captivity according to the state run National News Agency. He had been kidnapped along with his two brothers in al Hillaniyeh town on the Baalbek road in the Bekaa region. The victim’s two brothers were released after the payment of USD20,000. It was reported that the kidnappers had demanded USD500,000 for Abdul but he was released without the payment of a ransom.

Syria

2 July According to a Human Rights Watch report, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) kidnapped 153 children between the ages of 13 and 14 years from the mostly Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab on 29 May. The children were returning home from taking year-end exams in Aleppo when they were kidnapped. Although they have been missing for over one month, their kidnapping has gone largely unnoticed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that ISIS released 15 of the children on 28 June in exchange for the release of ISIS militants held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the official armed wing of the Kurdish Supreme Committee.

Turkey

4 July Militants from the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) kidnapped three villagers from Semdini town in the southeast of the country.

16 July Rebels from the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) kidnapped two girls aged 14 and 16 years in Yuksekova town, Hakkari province.

Yemen

26 July British citizen, Mike Harvey, a teacher, was released by his kidnappers after being kidnapped on 12 February in Sana’a. A British Foreign Office spokesman said that the victim had been released thanks to efforts by the Yemeni government and tribal intermediaries. A Yemeni security official and a tribal leader said that Harvey was freed after a ransom was paid. Other tribal leaders said he had been held by militants linked to al Qaeda.

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