Earth & Conservation

Is ISIS The Only Group With American Hostages?

ISIS recently shocked the world with viral executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Their deaths draw attention to the unsettling question: how many US hostages are still out there?

Here are some of the Americans currently being detained around the world.

Caitlan Coleman and Justin Boyle - Coleman is a 28 year-old American woman and her husband Justin is Canadian. The couple went missing in late 2012 in a Taliban-dominated region of Afghanistan while traveling near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time she was abducted, although there's been no news about her child released to the family. The only information about Coleman and Boyle since their kidnapping came in two videos, made available to the public earlier this year, that show Coleman and Boyle asking for the U.S. government to help free them.

Robert Levinson - A former FBI agent, Levinson was kidnapped from Iran's Kish Island on March 9, 2007. It was later revealed that the 66 year-old was there on a mission for the CIA. While the Iranian government has denied any knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts, American officials believe otherwise.

Saeed Abedini - The Iranian-born U.S. citizen was working in Iran as a Christian pastor in 2013. That year, he was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of threatening national security and undermining the Iranian government through his work with the Iranian Christian population, according to CNN. During his phone call with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani last September, President Obama advocated for the release of Abedini (as well as Levinson and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati).

Warren Weinstein - A contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Weinstein was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in 2011, just four days before his seven year contract was finished. Al Qaeda has released statements aimed at Weinstein's family, urging them to press the Obama administration to help in his release. While the U.S. has called for Weinstein's safe return home, the White House has made it clear it will not negotiate with Al Qaeda, according to NBC News.

Alan Gross - Also working for the U.S. Agency for International Aid, Gross was arrested in 2009 while setting up unauthorized Internet networks for Cuba's Jewish community. Cuban officials saw Gross' actions as an affront to the nation's sovereignty and are holding him in prison. While the Cuban government seems willing to swap Gross in exchange for three Cuban intelligence operatives, who are currently serving time in the U.S. on spy charges, the White House seems less inclined to pursue such a trade.

Austin Tice - A former U.S. Marine-turned-journalist who was reporting for the McClatchy group in Syria, Tice went missng on August 14, 2012. As of now, Tice's well-being and whereabouts are still unknown. No group has taken responsibility for Tice's disappearance.

Jeffrey Ake - Kidnapped in 2005, Ake was working in Iraq as a business contractor. While his captors posted videos of Ake and called his family multiple times in the immediate aftermath of his disappearance, very little has been heard or seen of him since.

Learn More:
Americans Kidnapped Abroad: The Forgotten Hostage Crisis (via Mens Journal)
"Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the 28-year-old infantryman from Idaho taken hostage by the Taliban in 2009, may finally be home and back on active duty in San Antonio."

Hostages Currently Held Interactive Map (via IntelCenter)
"A bombing begins and ends in mere moments."

American Hostages Still Held in Afghanistan and More then [sic] Five Other Countries (via IntelCenter)
"Following the 31 May 2014 release of five Taliban members by the US to obtain the release of American hostage Bowe Bergdahl, at least eight other Americans are still being held hostage including a pregnant woman who was kidnapped in Afghanistan nearly 2 years ago."

Americans Locked Up Abroad: Who They Are, What They Did (via The Daily Beast)
"On the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment in Cuba, American Alan Gross wrote a desperate letter to President Obama."

Kidnapping Westerners is big business (via USA Today)
"The kidnapping of Western journalists, tourists and aid workers has become a multimillion-dollar business..."

FBI Report: Seeking Missing Retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson (via The Federal Bureau of Investigation)
"$1 Million Reward for Information Leading to Safe Location and Return" Abedini: An American Pastor in an Iranian Prison (via Be Heard Project)
"Join us as we petition the international community to demand the release of this innocent man."

InterPol Profile: Warren Weinstein (via Interpol)
"INTERPOL is the world's largest international police organization, with 190 member countries."

A Plea From the Family of Amir Hekmati: Free Amir (via Free Amir)
"Amir is an Iranian-American detained in Iran...Falsely accused of being a spy, he was detained in August of 2011, held in solitary confinement for months and hidden by the walls of Iran's Evin prison."

FBI Kidnapping Report: Austin Bennett Tice (via The Federal Bureau of Investigation)
"Austin Bennett Tice was kidnapped in Damascus, Syria on August 13, 2012. Austin was a freelance journalist and photographer for a variety of news organizations including CBS, The Washington Post, and The McClatchy Company. "

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