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American family reveals their 26-year-old daughter is being held captive in Syria

The humanitarian worker was kidnapped by the militant group some time ago.

A yellow ribbon is tied to a tree outside the family home of freelance journalist James Foley.
A yellow ribbon is tied to a tree outside the family home of freelance journalist James Foley.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE ISLAMIC STATE militant group is holding a young American woman hostage, her family said yesterday.

The 26-year-old was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria when she was kidnapped by the militant group.

She is the third American citizen known to have been kidnapped by the militant group.

The Islamic State group recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against militants 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 US officials asked that the woman not be identified out of fear for her safety. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised 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.

Other American hostages have been held by other militant groups, including Peter Curtis from Boston, who was recently released by al-Nusra Front, a rival Sunni extremist group. Another US freelance journalist, Austin Tice of Houston, disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be held by the Syrian government. Tice was working for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other media outlets when he was kidnapped.

The Islamic State militant group is seeking to create a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq. The militant group is so ruthless in its attacks against all people they consider heretics or infidels that it has been disowned by al-Qaida’s leaders.

President Barack Obama said in a speech in North Carolina on Tuesday that “America does not forget” and vowed justice for Foley’s murder.

In its annual report last November, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists estimated at least 30 journalists have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Syria — held and threatened with death by extremists or taken captive by gangs seeking ransom.

The CPJ described the widespread seizure of journalists as unprecedented and largely unreported by news organisations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help to negotiate the captives’ release.

The group reported 52 journalists have been killed since Syria’s civil war began in early 2011 and documented at least 24 other journalists who disappeared earlier this year but are now safe.

Separately, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders last fall cited higher figures, saying at least 60 “news providers” are being detained and more than 110 have been killed.

Suspected killer of James Foley is London rapper and son of Al-Qaeda suspect – reports

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