France Passes U.S. as Western Nation with most Hostages being Held

Sunday, February 24, 2013
James Foley

France has now taken over the dubious honor of being the Western country with the most citizens being held hostage abroad.


On February 19, a family of seven (three adults and four children) were kidnapped after visiting Waza National Park in the extreme north of Cameroon. At least one of them worked for a Lebanese construction company, GDF Suez, stationed nearby. This brings to fifteen the number of French hostages, all in Africa, according to figures provided by IntelCenter, a U.S. research center specializing in security issues. It is thought that the victims have been transported across the border into Nigeria, where they are being held by a little-known Islamist group called Ansaru (Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Bidalis Sudan).

With nine nationals held hostage abroad, the United States is now in second place. IntelCenter lists only seven of the Americans still being held:


-James Foley, a video journalist working for Agence France-Presse, kidnapped near Idlib, Syria, on November 22, 2012

-Austin Tice, a freelance journalist, kidnapped in Syria August 13, 2012

-Warren Weinstein, country director for J.E. Austin Associates, kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan, August 13, 2011

-Bowe Bergdahl, soldier, kidnapped by the Taliban in Paktika Prrovince, Afghanistan, June 30, 2009

-Robert Levinson, private detective, kidnapped from Kish Island, Iran, March 9, 2007

-Jeffrey Ake, water-bottling plant contractor, kidnapped in Baghdad, Iraq, April 11, 2005

-Kirk von Ackerman, civilian contractor, disappeared near Balad, Iraq, October 9, 2003


Several other Americans are still unaccounted for in Iraq.

-David Wallechinsky, Violaine Badie


To Learn More:

French Hostages Probably Separated, Hollande Says (by Elizabeth Pineau and Ibrahim Mshelizza, Reuters)

Parents of Only U.S. Soldier Held as POW in Afghanistan Don’t Trust Obama to Help in Election Year (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

FBI Offers $1 Million Reward for Missing Ex-Agent Last Seen in Iran (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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