14 October Farhad Hamo, a distinguished Iraqi-Kurdish journalist, was released in Irbil after being held by Islamic State jihadists since he was kidnapped on 15 December 2014. Azad al Sheij, chief of the Kurdish Journalists Union, said that the victim had been released as a result of a ransom being paid but would not reveal the amount. The victim had been kidnapped along with his cameraman near Kuyer, Syria, close to the Iraq border. The cameraman was released on 21 September.
22 October US defence officials said that American Special Forces had supported Kurdish Iraqi forces in a raid to free dozens of hostages held in an Islamic State prison near Hawija, Kirkuk province in Northern Iraq. The raid was mounted as a result of intelligence that indicated the hostages faced imminent mass execution. One member of the US Special Forces, later named as Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, died during the operation. More than 20 Islamic State militants were killed and a further six captured. Sixty nine hostages, including 20 members of the Iraqi security forces, were rescued. A Pentagon spokesman said the rescue mission was a “unique circumstance” and not a change of policy in the fight against Islamic State.
27 October Shakhawan Abdullah, a member of the Iraqi Parliamentary Committee for Security and Defence Affairs, said that an inquiry has been launched into the cases of several Kurdish civilians who have been kidnapped by the Shi’ite militia group Hashd al Shaabi. He revealed that in the most recent case the group kidnapped a Kurdish resident of Erbil and demanded a ransom of USD100,000. His family paid the ransom but the victim has yet to be released. He added that more than 80 people have so far been kidnapped by the Shi’ite militias, some of whom have been released after the payment of huge ransoms but the fate of others remains unknown. Another case is of four Kurdish members of the Iraqi presidential guard who were kidnapped near Khurmatu earlier in May and a ransom of USD280,000 has been asked for their release which the families can not afford.
27 October According to reports, aid workers at a refugee camp in the country managed by the United Nations have uncovered a plot by Islamic State (IS) to infiltrate refugee camps in order to kidnap or kill Christians. The plot was revealed when one of the trained IS assassins who had managed to enter the camp in Jordan, renounced jihad after he saw the situation inside the camp. He was touched by the way Christian workers in the camp treated his fellow Syrians with kindness.
10 October Father Jacques Mourad, prior of the monastery of Mar Elian Al Qariatayn, southwest of Homs, was released by his kidnappers. He had been kidnapped in May 2015 from near the monastery. For security reasons, no further information was given.
12 October According to the director of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, Osama Edward, Islamic State have threatened to execute 180 Assyrian Christians the jihadist group are holding hostage if a multi-million dollar ransom is not paid. He added that negotiations led by the head of the Church of the East in Syria “have been suspended due to the unbearable demands of the group”. The Assyrians were among 200 kidnapped by militants from 35 villages along the Khabur River in northern Syria in late February. The exact number of hostages still being held is difficult to calculate as at least 41 have been released including 22 elderly men and women in August. Initially, Islamic State demanded a ransom of around USD100,000 per hostage, totalling USD23 million, but when it became clear the Assyrian community could not afford such a large amount, the ransom was reduced and is now between USD12-14 million. Last week Islamic State released a video showing three hostages wearing orange jump suits being shot after identifying themselves. As each hostage is executed, a militant demands money in return for the release of the remaining hostages.
20 October The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that Italian priest, Paolo Dali’Oglio, who was kidnapped on 29 July 2013 at Al Raqa, had been seen in a prison run by the Islamic State (IS). The NGO was quoting a deserter from IS who claimed to have personally seen the kidnapped priest in a prison run by the “Uzbeca Brigade” at Al Tabqa, west of Al Raqa before he deserted in September for ideological and religious reasons.
27 October The Islamic State released a video in which a captured 19 year old Syrian army soldier dressed in an orange jump suit is seen confessing he drove a tank over the bodies of dead Islamic State fighters. After his confession, an IS militant announced that the soldier’s punishment for disrespecting the bodies of dead militants was to be executed by being run over by a tank. He is handcuffed before being placed on the ground in front of a tank that then proceeds to run him over.