A Gulf source said yesterday that the kidnappers of the Qataris who were seized in the desert of Samawa in the Al-Muthanna province which is located in southern Iraq last month have stipulated a new condition for their release. The source added in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that the “new condition that the kidnappers have stipulated in exchange for the release of the 26 Qataris is the release of four Lebanese Hezbollah leaders; two of whom are being held by ISIS and another two who are being held by the Al-Nusra Front in Syria”.
The source explained that the “information that we have indicates that the deal for the Al-Nusra Front detainees is about to be carried out with the help of Turkish intelligence, however matters are complicated on the ISIS front as there are no ways to negotiate in this regard”.
The kidnappers of the Qataris specified this new condition after withdrawing their request for a financial ransom of $100,000,000 due to criticism from the Shiite Grand Ayatollah of Iraq Ali Al-Sistani on this matter and his description of the kidnapping as a political process and a matter which would cause embarrassment to the kidnappers in the event that the ransom was accepted.
A Gulf source said that the Americans have identified the place where the Qataris are being held but that they are hesitant to implement an operation to free them because they fear that this will cause bloodshed. The Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah called on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for securing the release of the Qatari hostages and added that “we are working closely with the Iraqi government. We believe that they should take responsibility”. He also mentioned that the kidnapped Qataris entered Iraq with permits issued by official Iraqi authorities.