Magazine Says Both German Hostages in Iraq Alive

The group that kidnapped two Germans in Iraq last week are said to have made a series of political demands in exchange for the hostages’ release, a German news magazine reported Friday.

A boycott of economic ties with Iraq is among the kidnapper’s demands, Der Spiegel reported Friday in it online edition, adding that the terrorists allegedly told witnesses during the kidnapping they belonged to the Islamic Army, an underground group that regularly takes credit for attacks against US troops.

 

The magazine said the kidnappers contacted the hostages’ family in Germany several times by cell phone and provided relatives with proof the 60-year-old woman and her 20-year-old son, who is reported to have worked for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, were still alive.

 

The German government has not confirmed that a kidnapping has taken place, preferring to describe the Germans as “missing.”

 

“We are trying to help the two Germans who disappeared in Iraq to return to their families as soon as possible,” foreign ministry spokesman Martin Jäger said on Friday.

 

He said he would not comment on details in the magazine report to protect the pair, who were taken hostage on Feb. 6.

Despite the political ultimatums, which are a standard part of Iraq’s nearly daily kidnappings, the ministry’s crisis team said it still believes the hostages were being held by a resistance group for criminal reasons, according to the Spiegel report.

 

The six kidnappers are thought to have close ties to local Sunni militias due to the relatively calm abduction. The kidnappers did not take the woman’s husband, an Iraqi professor, hostage and are said to have spoke with other residents in the building.

 

Last week, Germany’s NTV news channel said the crisis team set up by the German government was apparently working with mediators, but the foreign ministry declined to confirm that this was the case.

 

“We hope that everything works out well and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that the two Germans are returned safely to their families,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the time.

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