DUBAI, (Reuters) – A little-known Iraqi Islamist militant group said on Saturday it would kill two hostages, a German woman and her son, in 10 days if Berlin did not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
The Arrows of Righteousness group posted a video on a Web site used by militant groups, including al Qaeda, showing a weeping Hannelore Marianne Krause, 61, urging Germany to heed the militants’ demands.
“We give the German government 10 days from the date of this statement to announce and start the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, otherwise … they will not even see the bodies of these two agents,” said a masked man, reading a statement on the video. He did not give the date of the statement. The footage, posted on Saturday, showed Krause’s passport.
German newspapers have said the woman, married to an Iraqi physician, and her son are either Germans living in Iraq permanently or Iraqis with German nationality.
In February, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters the two had been missing since Feb. 6.
The speaker on the video read the statement standing behind the two kneeling hostages. Another masked militant pointed a machine gun to their heads.
Krause, wearing a blue headscarf, sat next to her bearded son who held her arm. Both were weeping as Krause appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet the kidnappers’ demands. “I have been held captive for a long time. I beg you to help me. I was very happy when you became chancellor but unfortunately until now you did not help me,” she said according to Arabic-language subtitles of her German-language appeal. “These people want to kill my son while I look and then kill me if the German troops were not pulled out from Afghanistan … Please implement their demands. Those people are not joking.”
Germany, which opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, has around 3,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force stationed there since U.S.-led troops toppled the Taliban in 2001 for harbouring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The speaker on the video said Germany was “annihilating” Muslims in Afghanistan and “smiling at us in Iraq. Do not the tyrants know that we are one nation with one religion?”. “The latest reports are being evaluated by the crisis committee,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said. “We will not comment further at the present time on the work of the crisis committee.”
Newspapers said the kidnappers had contacted relatives of the hostages in Germany.
More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Most foreign hostages have been released but at least 60 foreign hostages have been reported killed by their captors.
An Iraqi group freed two German hostages abducted in 2006. A German magazine said the government paid more than $10 million in ransom to secure the release of Rene Braueunlich and Thomas Nitzschke after 99 days in captivity.