Iran Grapples with Kidnappings in Libya, Syria
Unknown gunmen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi kidnapped seven Iranian members of the International Red Crescent last week shortly after their arrival in the country to help with relief work. Despite rumors that the seven would be released Friday, the aid workers remain with their abductors somewhere south of Benghazi, and thus far no clear demands have been made for their release. An official who has been in contact with the captors says the group is made of religious extremists who kidnapped the workers to ensure they would not spread Shiite Islam in the country.
Meanwhile, Iran has reached out to Turkey and Qatar for help in securing the release of 48 religious pilgrims kidnapped from their bus in Damascus. Both the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers agreed to assist in mediation, but the abductors reportedly believe the pilgrims are fighters sent by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and have not been willing to negotiate.
Additionally, Iranian human rights activists report that the government has been rounding up Baha’i citizens, with at least 10 arrested this week alone. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, Iranian police have detained at least 20 members of the unrecognized faith in the last three weeks in Tehran, Shiraz and Mashhad, with authorities searching their homes to confiscate computers, books, and other documents.