ISIS threatens another American hostage, and this time it’s a woman
The terrorists of ISIS don’t seem cowed by anything that’s been thrown at them to date, because they grabbed another American hostage, and this time it’s a woman. ABC News reports:
A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified.
She is the third of at least four Americans who were known to be held by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. American journalist James Foley was executed by the group in a video that appeared online last week. Another writer, Steven Sotloff, was seen alive but under duress in the same footage.
In addition to the multi-million dollar ransom, the terror group has also demanded that the U.S. release Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who was convicted by the U.S. in 2010 of trying to kill U.S. officials two years before, according to a supporter of Siddiqui who has been in contact with the hostage’s family.
Siddiqui’s family says it wants nothing to do with ISIS or the taking of hostage to secure her release, and is “traumatized by the thoughts that someone else could be harmed in the name of Aafia” according to a spokeman, Mauri Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation… who proceeded to draw an equivalence between Siddiqui’s imprisonment and hostage-taking:
“They’re opposed to it. In their letter to ISIS they made it very clear, this is not the way, these are not the conditions under which we want our loved ones released,” Saalakhan said. “Nor did they want harm to come to anyone else’s loved one in the name of Aafia… They conveyed that message loud and clear.
“The most important message that I could convey to ISIS or whoever it is that’s holding these innocent people captive abroad is that at the end of the day, this type of approach in response to an injustice that you feel, is not only not the inappropriate way to go, but, properly understood, it is a violation of the tenets of the faith that we claim to believe in,” he said. “We just have to do the right thing because it is the right thing, without any strings attached.. And the right thing would be to let this young woman go back to her family, go back to her life. And the right thing for America to do, for our government… would be to do the same with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.”
ABC News doesn’t get into details about why Dr. Siddiqui is currently a guest of the U.S. government. For that, we must turn to the International Business Times, which sets the stage by recalling Siddiqui and her husband’s penchant for buying body armor and anarchist weapons manuals online (for “hunting and camping” purposes, according to hubby) and taking suspicious trips seen by the FBI as “connected with al-Qaeda activities.” Her first marriage didn’t work out, so she ended up married to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s nephew, and her relationship with U.S. authorities grew much more lively as well:
Soon after the marriage, Siddiqui disappeared. She had been missing for five years when, in 2008, she was arrested in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The police found numerous documents in her possession describing the making of explosives, chemical weapons and dirty bombs, as well as notes referring to mass attacks on various landmarks around the United States.
Though accounts vary, U.S. officials claimed that Siddiqui grabbed a rifle and opened fire during an interrogation after her arrest. She was charged in July 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for assault with a deadly weapon and attempting to kill U.S. personnel.
After a two-week trial in 2010, Siddiqui was found guilty of all seven counts against her, consisting of attempted murder, armed assault, using a firearm and assaulting U.S. officers. Her lawyers had argued that she was mentally unstable. Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison. Today, she is being held at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison in Ft. Worth, Texas, that houses female inmates with mental health needs.
Sure, her prison term sounds morally equivalent to ISIS taking a hostage, right? Agitating for her release is a celebrity cause in Pakistan, and it’s something ISIS keeps coming back to – they also demanded freedom for Siddiqui and a multi-million-dollar ransom in exchange for journalist James Foley before carving his head off with a knife. Collecting huge ransoms for kidnapped Europeans has long been a major source of funding for ISIS; according to CBS News, they wanted north of $130 million for Foley.
The Obama Administration responded to the new threat against ISIS’ female hostage with the bold leadership the world has come to expect, as reported by NBC News:
In response to questions about the woman, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a press conference on Tuesday that “I’m not going to speak to American citizens who may or may not be detained and certainly not going to entertain what may or may not be considered.”
“The serious note here is that for the safety and security of any individual who is being held, including any reporter, your colleagues, we don’t talk about the details for that reason,” she added.
Got the message, terrorist scum? Touch a hair on that woman’s head, and the State Department may or may not entertain the possibility of considering a strong statement of disapproval. At least Psaki didn’t pose with a sad face and a placard holding some dopey hashtag begging for the return of the kidnapped woman.
ISIS took some Syrian hostages over the weekend as well, when they acquired the makings of an air force by capturing a major air base, according to a Reuters report:
ISIS, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base near Raqqa city Sunday after days of fighting with the army that cost more than 500 lives, according to monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Tabqa was the army’s last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the militants, who have seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. The United States has carried out airstrikes on the group in Iraq and is considering its options in Syria.
In one picture posted online, a group of militants in balaclavas are seen gunning down at least seven kneeling men identified as army personnel. It was not possible to immediately confirm the authenticity of the images.
Other photos showed groups of eight to 10 soldiers taken hostage, some with face wounds and three identified as officers. The photos appeared to show at least two dozen hostages.
One picture reportedly shows the body of a pilot who had appeared on Syrian television before the attack on the base explaining how the army could easily defend it. Others show militants holding up knives next to groups of captured men.
It remains an open question whether the head-choppers will be able to make use of the air assets they’ve captured, although they seem to have figured out how to drive heavy armor just fine, because at least one tank was used in their assault on Tabqa.
Reuters notes that the capture of the airbase and taking of Syrian hostages is causing considerable political trouble for Bashar Assad – formerly known as the gas-spewing reincarnation of Hitler, but well on his way to becoming an important American ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Regime supporters are furious that the Tabqa base was captured after cocky assurances that it could repel any assault. “Thousands of people want to know the fate of their sons, and our only source is ISIS,” growled one unhappy camper on Facebook, while the Syrian Defense Minister has been dubbed “Minister of Death” on Twitter. Even the loyalists from Assad’s Alawite sect are shaken by the battlefield successes of ISIS… but according to one Alawite activist, they’re “hoping the world will come to help Assad in his fight against terrorism.”
Man, it’s a good thing Barack Obama’s supporters forget all of his hideous failures within 24 hours, or they’d be even more shaken than the Alawites right about now. The upshot of Obama’s reckless abandonment of Iraq, all to get a few sound bites that would please the anti-Bush kooks in his base, is a new global menace that’s forcing Obama to buddy up with the Syrian dictator he wanted to blast out of power with air strikes last year. ISIS has taken American foreign policy hostage, too. If an opportunity to rescue their female captive arises, hopefully the Golfer-in-Chief won’t dither for 30 days before authorizing the mission, the way he did with James Foley.