Is ISIS The Only Group With American Hostages?

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, recently beheaded two American Journalists in Syria Journalists who had been held by ISIS for an extended period prior to their execution

Which brings up a troubling question: How many Americans are currently being held by terrorist groups or hostile states? The answer, however unsettling it may be, is that we simply don’t know The United States Government’s official policy is to not negotiate with terrorists That policy is intended to discourage people from kidnapping civilians, by taking the possibility of a reward out of the equation Which is great in theory, but not that effective in practice Kidnapping westerners can be a very lucrative business, and US nationals working in hostile areas are kidnapped fairly regularly, although the general public isn’t usually given a lot of information about it

As of right now, these are the American citizens who we know – for sure – were kidnapped abroad, and are most likely still being held hostage today American Citizen Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband have been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2012, presumably along with their newborn baby Caitlin was pregnant at the time of her abduction Former FBI Agent and current CIA contractor Robert Levison was kidnapped in 2007 in Iran, by an unknown group, though there are indications that the Iranian Government was involved The Iranian government has been holding Catholic missionary Saeed Abedini since 2012, for charges stemming from his missionary work

They’ve also been holding former US Marine Amir Hekmati since 2011, who they accuse of being a US spy USAID contractor Warren Weinstein was taken from his home in Pakistan by Al Qaeda in 2011 He’s most likely being held in the mountainous region bordering Afghanistan

USAID contractor Alan Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba by the Cuban government since 2009 They accuse him of being a CIA operative The North Korean government is currently holding three Americans in captivity, with similar accusations of spying or subversive acts In Syria, freelance journalist Austin Tice (Tise) was kidnapped in August 2012, most likely by the Syrian government Reports are still unclear, though, and no demands have been made by any group

Also in Syria, ISIS is holding at least two other Americans, and while we don’t have a lot of information on who they are or how they were captured, we do know that one of them is a 26-year-old female humanitarian worker Jeffrey Ake (“Ache”), a water bottling contractor, was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005 Demands were made, but we can’t be sure who was making them – and the trail has since gone cold 7 other American citizens were also kidnapped in Iraq around the same time, all of whom are now presumed dead That is by no means a comprehensive list

As we said at the top, the US does not officially negotiate with terrorists So, a lot of the information on abducted individuals is kept from the general public But the problem is very real One estimate from a Men’s Journal article recently published claims that at least 86 journalists of varying nationalities have been kidnapped in the past three years in Syria; more than 20 of whom are still unaccounted for If you’d like to learn more about ISIS and what’s going on in the Middle East please click on this playlist now

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