Syria turns into kidnappers’ paradise
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
LEBANON: Every time violence intensifies in Syria, so do abductions of civilians, for political reasons and more often for financial gain, activists and families of hostages say.
The plight of hundreds of people abducted over the past 18 months of conflict has prompted a group of activists to set up a Facebook page entitled “Missing” where pictures of men, women and children are posted by anxious relatives. “Our sister, Taghrid Arnus, is missing, please call this number,” reads one of the messages posted on the Internet site.
“If you have any information on any of the missing, please send a message to this page,” says another message.
According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights between 2,000 and 3,000 people have been kidnapped across Syria since March 2011. “Everyone is kidnapping everybody else,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP in a telephone interview.
“Pro and anti-regime forces kidnap each other, to exchange prisoners or demand money, while there’s also bands of criminals who just want to extort the families of the victims for ransom,” he says.
“Life has become very cheap in Syria.” Abu Ahmad, 66, was kidnapped one night in mid-August while he was on his way home from work in Damascus.
“He has a good job,” his son Ahmad told AFP. “That’s why they went after him.
“We received a phone call. A man from the Popular Committees demanded $75,000 for baba,” said Ahmad, referring to pro-regime militias that have been created to defen