The extremist group ISIS has demanded a $6.6 million ransom for the third American hostage, a woman who had been kidnapped over a year ago while doing humanitarian work in Syria. The terror group also addressed the possibility of hostage exchange- they would agree to the release of U.S. prisoners if the United States would also release a high profile hostage of their own.
The family of the woman being held hostage has requested that she not be identified.
She is one of the at least four hostages currently under ISIS’s control. James Foley, the American Journalist was executed last week by the group and the video showing his beheading became viral on the internet. The second hostage, Steven Sotloff, was still alive according to recent accounts but under duress.
The Islamic State has already proposed a high-profile prisoner who could be released by the United States. Their request is Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT trained neuroscientist who has been convicted in 2010 by the U.S. for the attempt of murdering U.S. officials in the previous years.
This isn’t the first time that Siddiqui’s name has been mentioned by the Islamic State. In fact, her release has been a regular demand of groups. Siddiqui’s family expressed their disapproval and sadness about the fact that Aafia’s name has been connected to the ransom request and distanced themselves from ISIS.
A letter by Siddiqui’s family addressing the issue clearly states that there is no connection between them and ISIS. They go on to say that the association of Aafia’s name to such acts of violence is not only undignifying but also against all they stand for.
Aafia’s family explains that while they would want to see their daughter released, they do not agree with the “all or nothing” approach and cannot support the terrorist group’s actions.
Mauri Saalakhan, of the Peace and Justice Foundation, spoke on behalf of Siddiqui’s family and said that they oppose the terrorist groups approach. They conveyed a message to ISIS (or anyone else who might be involved in the kidnapping of these innocent people) asking them to cease. According to them, holding innocent people captive represents a violation of the faith in which ISIS claims to believe in.
Since Foley’s execution, ISIS has threatened the life of the remaining 3 hostages. Sotloff’s fate rested, according to an ISIS militant, in President Obama’s hands. Despite these threats, the U.S. military continued bombing runs in Iraq and began surveillance flights in Syria.