Al Nusrah Front Silence on Admitting Kidnapping Yasuda in Syria Raises Questions

Monday, March 21, 2016

By Ahmed Ali
PanOrient News Correspondent

Damascus- (PanOrient News) A Syrian source close to the government in Damascus said the kidnappers of Japanese journalist Jompei Yasuda, assumed to be Al Nusrah front, have not announced officially they are holding him.

In an exclusive interview with PanOrient News correspondent in Syria, the source, a candidate for the next Syrian parliament election, said on condition of anonymity, "If al-Nasrah Front is the kidnapper of the Japanese journalist Yasuda, missing in Syria since last summer, and this is very likely, then there are two possibilities behind the reason why this group do not take responsibility for that."

The source explains that if the group announces its responsibility for the abduction, then they risk being designated as a terrorist group by the international community, thus embarrassing some of the regional countries who seek to list al-Nusrah in the moderate anti government armed factions in Syria.

The second likely reason, according to the source, is that, Al Nusrah front might want to pressure the Japanese government to also contact regional countries and ask them for some help for Mr. Yasuda’s release, which also would give Al Nusrah front some recognition.

The question arises by observers that if al-Nusrah is really the kidnapper of Yasuda, then why did they resort to a broker to deal with the negotiations? Why did not they use their media arm, called Al-Manarah Al-Baidhah (the White Lighthouse?)

Tariq Abdul Haq, a resident of Antioch in Turkey and identifies himself as an activist, fixer and a journalist, released a video of Mr. Yasuda last week, and told Japanese media the so-called al-Nour Charity provided it. He assured that Mr. Yasuda is being held by al-Nusra, and “the only way to release him is for the Japanese government negotiate with the mediator party, Al Nour.”

The source in Damascus said that the media coverage on this issue in Japan would help Al Nusrah Front to gain the attention and claim a ransom for a happy ending to this crisis.

The Syrian public largely believes that most of the abductions, including foreign hostages, are aimed at making money. Additionally, it's also believed that some abductions are designated to swap hostages and prisoners for political agendas.

Some say that taking hostages has been a big business in Syria to make money by those unemployed or criminals.

A victim kidnapped by an anti government group in Syria some time ago told PanOrient News that his kidnappers explained they wanted to swap him with some anti government activists held by the security forces in that country.

The worsening situation, associated with the spread of violence and lawlessness in Syria led to the deterioration of the economic situation in Syria, which then led to the phenomenon of rampant kidnapping in areas under the government rebel control. It has become a profitable business to reap money, far from sectarian or political backgrounds.

Criminal gangs specialized in hostage taking have emerged targeting the rich or people of distinct professions such as doctors, academics, engineers and even the ordinary citizens, regardless of their affiliations.

Many kidnappings ended with the death of the victim in cases where their families refused or could not pay a ransom. In some cases, despite a ransom being paid, the family of a victim received their kidnapped loved one dead.

As for the abductions of foreigners, especially journalists and reporters, including Japanese, almost all have occurred in the northern and north-eastern regions of Syria, which are under the control of militias such as the Islamic State (Daesh), al-Nusrah Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and other armed groups.

The spreading of the kidnapping phenomenon is affecting all segments of society, even in quite cities like Hama, Tartous and Latakia.

Photo: Mr. Yasuda

PanOrient News

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