MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

31 October Islamic State militants kidnapped 12 journalists in Mosul, Nineveh province, and are holding them inside secret prisons in the town. It is the second time IS has kidnapped journalists in Mosul. The previous week seven journalists were kidnapped and their whereabouts is still not known.

Syria

3 October Islamic Sate militants posted a video showing the beheading of British aid worker, Alan Henning. The footage on YouTube showed the hostage reading from a script condemning the British parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic State. A hooded man known as “Jihadi John”, speaking in a British accent claims: “The blood of David Haines (the first British hostage murdered) was on your hands Cameron. Alan Henning will also be slaughtered, but his blood is on the hands of the British parliament”. Near the end of the 1 minute 11 second video, a man in black introduces another hostage identified as American Peter Edward Kassig (26) who was kidnapped while doing humanitarian work on 1 October 2013 in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor.

4 October The parent’s of Peter Kassig, the American aid worker held hostage by Islamic State militants, appeared in a video pleading for their son’s release. The hostage is a former US Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2007, is a Muslim convert because of the US bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria and has changed his name to Abdul Rahman Kassig. He founded SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance) a non-governmental organisation to provide aid to Syrians fleeing the civil war. The victim’s parents also released a letter from their son in which he says he is afraid to die but is praying every day.

6 October According to a media report, Islamic militants could have at least 12 hostages who have yet to appear in propaganda videos. ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might be the only person who knows the exact number. Humanitarian organisations and governments fear giving information as it could put hostages at greater risk. The US State Department said the militants have a “small number of Americans” but would not say how many for safety reasons. According to Reporters without Borders, there are five foreign journalists still missing in Syria including an American, a Lebanese, a Mauritanian, a Jordanian and British journalist John Cantlie. Four western journalists, two Italians, a Dane and a Japanese, were kidnapped in Idlib, northern Syria, on 20 August. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that three of its employees are missing in Syria. ISIS has also demanded a ransom for an unnamed female American aid worker aged 26 years.

7 October Terrorism expert, Mia Bloom, said that ISIS wants to swop Aafia Siddiqui aka “Lady al Qaeda”, who studied neuroscience at university in the USA and is a mother of three children, for western hostages the group are holding in Syria. She is serving a 86 year prison sentence for attempting to murder Americans. ISIS tried to exchange her for James Foley and then Steven Sotloff before murdering both of them when the US refused to release her.

10 October Militants from the al Qaeda linked Jabhat al Nusra kidnapped Franciscan Father Hanna Jallouf (62), pastor of Knayeh village, located in the Orontes Valley near the Turkish border, along with 20 Christians.

10 October A report on an Israeli TV station claimed that the United Nations secured the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers kidnapped by the Nusra Front through the payment of a USD25 million ransom by Qatar. The peacekeepers were captured on 28 August along the Demilitarised Zone separating Israel and Syria and were released on 11 September. The TV station broadcast footage taken by one of its camera crews from the Israeli side of the border that it claimed showed a meeting between Nusra Front members and UN officials on 11 September as funds were being transferred to a Nusra Front bank account.

29 October According to reports, kidnappings are on the rise as criminal groups take advantage of the chaos caused by the civil war by kidnapping foreigners and local citizens in exchange for high ransoms. It is not only Syrian policemen and state officials who are being kidnapped but also women and children.

31 October A report claimed that video analysts used by the British police had examined footage of John Cantlie’s video and are able to pinpoint the location in northern Syria where he is being held. The latest video called “Lend Me Your Ears” appeared online on 27 October

Turkey

19 October Abu Issa, the leader of Thuwar Raqqa, a Syrian rebel group who has been fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Kobane, Syria, was ambushed by ISIL extremists in Urfa, Turkey. He was wounded in an apparent kidnapping attempt. At about 6:30pm the rebel commander and his son, Ammar (20), were returning from a meeting with Turkish officials when ISIL vehicles blocked the road and four armed men grabbed them. They were transferred to another car which sped towards the Syrian border but were thwarted by the Turkish military.

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