Entries in kidnapped (4)


New Pictures of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Kidnapped in Iran

The family of Robert Levinson has released new images of the former FBI agent, who was kidnapped in Iran in 2007. (The Levinson Family(NEW YORK) -- The family of a former FBI agent who was kidnapped in Iran has released a new series of images of the 64-year-old man, showing him draped in chains and dressed in what appears to be a mock prison uniform. In each image he holds a sign, one of which reads, "Help me."

Robert Levinson was kidnapped while on a business trip to Iran's Kish Island in 2007. In the new images provided to ABC News and other outlets, the first made public since a 2010 "proof of life" video was released in December 2011, Levinson stares blankly into the camera for the five photos, his face framed by wild white hair and an unkempt white beard.

One of the signs makes reference to the U.S. government's detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 160 suspected Taliban fighters and al Qaeda members are held. "I Am Here in Guantanamo Do You Know Where It Is?" reads the sign.

"This is the result of 30 years serving for USA," says another. "Why you can not help me [sic]."

Authorities either do not know or have not publicly identified Levinson's suspected captors, but the U.S. government has repeatedly asked the Iranian government's help in finding him.

During Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations in New York in September 2012, Levinson's family blanketed Times Square with missing posters and ads for Levinson. During the same visit, Ahmadinejad hinted to CBS News that Levinson may have been in Iranian custody.

"I remember that last year Iranian and American intelligence groups had a meeting, but I haven't followed up on it," he said in response to a question about Levinson.

In March 2012, the FBI announced a $1 million reward for information leading to Levinson's safe return.

The release of the new photos came the same day another American family with a relative held in Iran announced they were planning a demonstration outside Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested by the Iranian government on espionage charges, will have been held in the Middle Eastern nation for 500 days. He was originally sentenced to death, but the Iranian government later ordered a retrial.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News shortly after his son's arrest was made public, Hekmati's father said that his son was no spy.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Hekmati said. "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


American Doctor Rescued From Taliban

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An American doctor who worked for an NGO in Kabul and had been kidnapped by the Taliban was rescued Saturday in a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials.

Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted Dec. 5 by Taliban insurgents in the vicinity of Sarobi District, Kabul Province, was freed Saturday during an operation in eastern Afghanistan.

“Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” said Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of USFOR-A.  “I’m proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation.  Thanks to them, Dr. Joseph will soon be rejoining his family and loved ones.”

Allen said he ordered the mission when intelligence showed that Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death.

According to a Defense Department official, no U.S. forces were killed in the raid, but several Taliban died in the rescue, which was a nighttime helicopter raid by U.S. Special Operations forces in a very remote area by the Pakistan border.

The rescue mission was planned and executed quickly, according to the official, because of serious concerns about Joseph’s safety.

“We were concerned for his life,” the official said. “He was not being held in the best of conditions, he was not being treated well and there was concern for his safety. And the longer it went on if he was not killed, it would become harder and harder.  There were indications he might be being moved to Pakistan.”

U.S. officials were made aware of Joseph’s abduction the day it happened, but was not announced, again because of safety concerns, according to the official.

“It’s fair to say the primary focus is on safety of U.S. citizens,” the official said. “The goal is to get them back as quickly as possible. The judgment in this case was made that it was not in his best interest to make it widely known.”

Joseph has undergone medical evaluation. He can walk under his own power, but he was beaten up by his captors, the official said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Kidnapper Threatens to Kill Two American Hostages If Arrested

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- A Bedouin tribesman is threatening to kill two Americans he kidnapped Friday in Egypt's Sinai Desert if he's arrested.

Jirmy Abu-Masuh, 32, of the Tarbeen tribe, said in an interview that the Americans are being treated well — they've been given tea and a traditional Bedouin meal of lamb — but they won't be released until his uncle, who is in an Egyptian prison, is released as well. His uncle was taken into custody for refusing to pay 100 dollars in a bribe to police officers at a check point.

Abu-Masuh warned Saturday that if the authorities try to arrest him, he will kill the hostages, and if his uncle is not released, he will abduct more people and treat the Americans as prisoners, which could mean leaving them out in the desert.

The two Americans who were kidnapped at gunpoint Friday are 61-year-old Michel Louis, the pastor of the Free Pentecostal Church of God in Dorchester, Mass., and 39-year-old Lisa Alphonse. Louis' son said his father has diabetes and may require medical attention soon.

They were captured in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on the road to Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the 10 commandments.

This standoff was underway as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Egypt to meet with Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, elected after the Arab Spring.

The revolution has left the Egyptian military with no control over large areas of the country, allowing these kidnappings to take place.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Americans Kidnapped in Egypt

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- A Bedouin tribesman says he kidnapped two Americans tourists from Boston on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to get his uncle freed from prison, and says he will kidnap more people if his demand is not met.

The two Americans who were kidnapped at gunpoint Friday are 61-year-old Michel Louis, the pastor of the Free Pentecostal Church of God in Dorchester, Mass., and 39-year-old Lisa Alphonse. Louis’ son said his father has diabetes and may require medical attention soon.

According to his son, Michel was on a missionary trip to Israel, which he does every year, and happened to venture into Egypt this time. His wife accompanied him on the trip, and is still in Egypt.

“We’re in good spirits because we know the God that we serve is in control of the matter,” Jean Louis, Michel Louis’ son said in a press conference.

Jirmy Abu-Masuh, 32, of the Tarbeen tribe, said in an interview that he stopped their tour bus and also kidnapped their 28-year-old tour guide Haytham Ragab as well so he could translate.

Officials at the American embassy in Cairo says they’re working closely with the Egyptian authorities to free the two Americans.

Lawlessness has risen dramatically in the Sinai Peninsula, particularly since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. Kidnappings by Bedouins have become more frequent — they also traffic in guns and drugs. Al Qaeda is known to operate in the region, though they are not believed to have been involved with this kidnapping.

This is the third time this year that American tourists have been kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula. In early February, two American women were kidnapped and released six hours later after negotiations between Egyptian authorities and the kidnappers. In late May, two American tourists were kidnapped and released the next day.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Egypt to meet with Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio