The Daily Beast reports: Fears for the safety of dozens of Western captives—among them journalists and aid workers—kidnapped in northern Syria by al Qaeda factions are mounting amid signs they are being moved deeper into territory firmly under jihadist sway. Private security experts and Western intelligence sources say the captives are in the process of being transported closer to the Iraqi border in an operation directed by a Chechen commander.
The movement of the captives appears to be a precaution against them being freed as a consequence of furious rebel infighting that has plunged insurgent-held areas in northern Syria into chaos in the past two weeks.
Speaking on the condition they would not be identified, private security experts working on several abduction cases say a commander called Abu Omar al Chechen, a former Georgian soldier who has sworn allegiance to the emir of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is overseeing the movement of the captives amid heavy security.
“The Westerners are being moved in groups and individually in armored vehicles,” one of the security advisers told the Daily Beast. Foreign fighters, including Saudis, are guarding them, he says. [Continue reading…]