The Islamic State terrorist group is holding hostage a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, a family representative said Tuesday. The 26-year-old woman is the third American known to have been kidnapped by the group.
The Islamic State group recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against terrorists advancing on Mount Sinjar and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
The 26-year-old woman was captured last year while working with three humanitarian groups in Syria. A representative for the family and U.S. officials asked that the woman not be identified out of fear for her safety. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
More than a week ago, freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, was beheaded by the Islamic State group, which kidnapped him in November 2012. Foley, 40, had worked in a number of conflict zones across the Mideast, including Iraq, Libya and Syria. He was in northern Syria on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based news organization GlobalPost when the car he was riding in was stopped by four terrorists in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control.
The Islamic State video of Foley’s beheading also showed another of the missing American journalists, Steven Sotloff, and warned he would be killed next if U.S. airstrikes continued. U.S. officials believe the video was made days before its release and have grown increasingly worried about Sotloff’s fate.
Other American hostages have been held by other terrorist groups, including Peter Curtis from Boston, who was recently released by al-Nusra Front, a rival Sunni extremist group. Another U.S. freelance journalist, Austin Tice of Houston, disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be held by the same organization. Tice was working for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other media outlets when he was kidnapped.
There were reports Tuesday that another American, Douglas McArthur McCain of San Diego, was killed in Syria. The circumstances of his death were unclear….
Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said U.S. officials are in contact with the family in providing consular assistance. “As you know there is typically a process that has to be gone through before any confirmation can be made and certainly, out of respect for the family, we won’t be adding any more comment at this time,” she said.
The Islamic State is seeking to create a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq.