The Guardian reports: Flush with looted weapons, buoyed by sweeping gains in Syria and eager to shock, Islamic State militants have seized four more foreign hostages near Aleppo in recent days, taking to more than 20 the number of foreigners they now hold.
The latest captives, two Italian women, a Dane and a Japanese national, were seized in or near Syria’s largest city. All held are either reporters, photographers or aid workers taken near Aleppo or Idlib. They have been subsequently moved to Raqqa, the Isis stronghold in north Syria.
The abductions have controversially proved good business for Islamic radicals. In the past six months at least 10 hostages, including a Dane, three French nationals and two Spaniards, were freed after lengthy negotiations with captors, who demanded ransoms. Some organisations have insisted on information blackouts about nationals still being held.
One former hostage said the suspected killer who appeared in the recent video, apparently murdering the US journalist James Foley, was one of three Britons who had guarded him in Raqqa. He said the man had been responsible for negotiating hostage releases, dealing with families of captives via email. [Continue reading…]