Members of the Iraqi insurgency began taking foreign hostages in Iraq beginning in April 2004. Since then, in a dramatic instance of Islamist kidnapping they have taken captive more than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis; among them, dozens of hostages were killed and others rescued or freed. In 2004, executions of captives were often filmed, and many were beheaded. However, the number of the recorded killings decreased significantly. Many hostages remain missing with no clue as to their whereabouts. The United States Department of StateHostage Working Group was organized by the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad, in the summer of 2004 to monitor foreign hostages in Iraq.
The motives for these kidnappings include:
influencing foreign governments with troops in Iraq to withdraw
influencing foreign companies with workers in Iraq to leave the country
Douglas Wood, construction engineer was kidnapped along with two Iraqi business associates on April 30, 2005. The two associates were later killed. Wood was rescued on June 15, 2005 in a raid carried out by the Iraqi Army.
Umberto Cupertino, Maurizio Agliana and Salvatore Stefio were captured with security guard Fabrizio Quattrocchi on April 29, 2004. The three were freed June 8, 2004.
Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, aid workers for a Bridge to Baghdad, were kidnapped along with two Iraqis on September 7, 2004. They were freed on September 28, 2004. Italy allegedly paid $5 million in ransom for their release.
Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for Il Manifesto, was kidnapped on February 4, 2005. Her Iraqi driver and Iraqi translator managed to escape. When she was released on March 4, 2005, her car was shot at by US troops, and Italian agent Nicola Calipari was killed. Italy allegedly paid $6 million in ransom for her release.
Dalibor Lazarevski, Dragan Marković, and Zoran Naskovski, were kidnapped August 21, 2004, near Baghdad. They worked for Soufan Engineering, which caters to the needs of the US military and its private contractors. On October 22, 2004, the Macedonian government confirmed the three had been killed.
Angelo de la Cruz, a truck driver, was taken hostage on July 7, 2004. De la Cruz was released after the Philippines withdrew their 51 troops in the country on July 20, 2004. His Iraqi security guard was killed during the abduction.
Roberto Tarongoy, kidnapped on November 1, 2004. He was released eight months later, on June 22, 2005 after a ransom was paid.
Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, and Ovidiu Ohanesian, journalists, were kidnapped on March 28, 2005 in Baghdad. Their Iraqi-American translator, Mohammad Munaf, also went missing with them. They were released on May 22, 2005. Munaf was accused by the Romanian government of organizing the kidnapping and was arrested.
Five energy workers from Interenergoservis were kidnapped on April 12, 2004, along with 3 Russians and a man immediately released, all were released the next day with the insurgents apologizing, noting that they did not realise they were Russian and Ukrainian.
Kenneth John Bigley, a civil engineer, who was kidnapped September 16, 2004. The two Americans kidnapped with him were beheaded and Bigley was beheaded around October 7.
Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy, four security contractors, were kidnapped with Peter Moore, a computer consultant, on May 29, 2007. Their captors were Shia militiamen who demanded the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and release of all Iraqi prisoners in exchange for the hostages's release. Jason, Peter and Alan appeared in videos released in November 2007, February 2008 and July 2008. The captors claimed that Swindlehurst killed himself on May 25, 2008. However, that turned out to be a lie. The bodies of Swindlehurst and Creswell were recovered on June 19, 2009. On July 29, 2009, it was revealed that Maclachlan and McMenemy had also been killed. Maclachlan's body was recovered on September 1, 2009. McMenemy's body was recovered on January 20, 2012.
Phillip Sands, a freelancer reporter, was abducted on December 26, 2005, along with his Iraqi interpreter and Iraqi driver. His abductors were gunmen who planned on using him to get Britain to pull all troops out of Iraq and release all Iraqi prisoners. Phillip was filmed pleading for his life. However, the tape was never sent to Al Jazeera. On December 31, 2005, Phillip and his two colleagues were rescued by U.S. troops who revealed that no one knew they were missing.
Richard Butler, a journalist working for CBS News, was kidnapped in Basra on February 10, 2008, with his Iraqi interpreter Aqeel Khadhir. The translator was freed on February 13, 2008. Butler was rescued on April 14, 2008 by Iraqi forces.
Peter Moore, a computer consultant, and his four security guards were kidnapped from the Iraqi Finance ministry on May 29, 2007. Peter and two of his security guards appeared in videos released in November 2007, February 2008 and July 2008. Their captors were Shia militiamen who demanded the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and the release of all Iraqi prisoners in exchange for the hostages's release. Their captors claimed that Swindlehurst killed himself on May 25, 2008. However that turned out to be a lie. The bodies of Swindlehurst and Creswell were recovered on June 19, 2009. Both of them were shot dead. On July 29, 2009, it was revealed that Maclachlan and McMenemy were also killed. The body of Maclachlan was recovered on September 1, 2009. He was also shot dead. McMenemy's body was recovered on January 20, 2012. Moore was released on December 30, 2009 in exchange for the release of Qais Khazali. In December 2009 evidence uncovered during an investigation by the Guardian newspaper and Guardian Films linked the Quds force to the kidnappings of Moore, Swindlehurst, Maclachlan, Creswell and McMenemy.
Nicholas Evan Berg, a 26 year old freelancer, went missing on 9 April 2004. His widely publicized beheading was shown in a video on 11 May 2004. His body had been found the day before. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally beheaded Berg.
Owen Eugene "Jack" Armstrong and Jack Hensley, two contractors for the construction firm Gulf Supplies Commercial Services of the United Arab Emirates, were kidnapped along with a Briton named Kenneth John Bigley on September 16, 2004. Armstrong was beheaded on 20 September 2004. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally beheaded Armstrong. The following day, the group beheaded Hensley, and threatened to kill Bigley, unless the United States met their demands to free all women prisoners in Iraqi jails. Bigley was beheaded in October 2004.
Ronald Alan Schulz, an electrician, was reported kidnapped on 6 December 2005. On 19 December 2005, the Islamic Army released a video showing Schulz's killing in which he is shot in the head after the U.S. refused to release all Iraqi prisoners. His remains were found in September 2008 and confirmed to be Schulz's the next month.
John Roy Young, Joshua Mark "Josh" Munns, Paul Christopher Johnson-Reuben and Jonathon Michael "Jon" Cote, four security contractors, were kidnapped with an Austrian named Bert Nussbaumer on November 16, 2006. They appeared in two hostage videos released in December 2006 and January 2007. The kidnapped contractors stated in their video that they would not be released until the following demands had been made; the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and the release of all Iraqi prisoners in exchange for the hostages's release. Four fingers were sent to U.S. authorities in February 2008. The fingers belonged to Munns, Reuben, Cote and Nussbaumer. The bodies of Young, Nussbaumer, Munns and Reuben were recovered in March 2008. Cote's body was recovered in April 2008.
Ronald Joe Withrow, a contractor, was kidnapped along with his translator and driver on 5 January 2007. The translator and driver were found dead the next day. One of Withrow's fingers was sent to U.S. authorities in February 2008. His body was recovered in March 2008.
Steven Charles Vincent, a journalist, was kidnapped along with his Iraqi translator, Nouriya Itais Wadi, in Basra on 2 August 2005. They were bound, gagged, taken to an undisclosed location where for five hours they were beaten and interrogated, then taken to the outskirts of town and shot. They were found by British and Iraqi policemen but Vincent was dead, shot in the back at close range. Wadi survived despite having been shot three times.
Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped in West Baghdad on January 7, 2006, by unknown gunmen. Her Iraqi translator was killed during the abduction. Her Iraqi driver escaped. Her kidnappers demanded the release of all female Iraqi prisoners. She was shown in four videos during her captivity. She was released on March 30, 2006.
Micah Garen, a freelance reporter, was kidnapped along with his Iraqi translator, Amir Doushi, on August 13, 2004, near Nasiriyah. They were freed on August 22, 2004.
Roy Hallums, an employee of a Saudi trading company, was seized along with Roberto Tarangoy, Inus Dewari and three Iraqi security guards on November 1, 2004, in Baghdad. The three Iraqi security guards were later released. Dewari was released on November 10, 2004. Hallums was shown in a video aired on January 25, 2005. Tarongoy was released on June 22, 2005. On September 7, 2005, Hallums was freed in an operation conducted by Delta Force.
Thomas Hamill, a truck driver, was seized in a deadly convoy attack on April 9, 2004 (see 2004 Iraq KBR Convoy Ambush). He was later shown in a video, but escaped on May 1, 2004.
Issa T. Salomi, a civilian contractor, was kidnapped by a Shiite militia group on January 23, 2010, and shown in a video in February 2010. His kidnappers demanded the release of Iraqi prisoners, the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq, the prosecution of security contractors employed by Blackwater Worldwide and compensation to Iraqi families. He was released on March 25, 2010 in exchange for the release of four Iraqi prisoners.
Paul Taggart, a freelance photographer, was kidnapped on October 10, 2004. He was released on October 12, 2004.
Kirk von Ackermann, disappeared on October 9, 2003 after leaving a meeting at FOB Pacesetter. His vehicle was found abandoned later that same day. He is presumed dead.
Timothy Edward Bell, a contractor for Halliburton, went missing on April 9, 2004. He was never seen in a hostage video and was declared legally dead in 2010.
Aban Elias, an Iraqi-American engineer from Denver, was shown being held hostage in a video on May 3, 2004. He has not been seen or heard from since.
Radim Sadeq Mohammed Sadeq, also called "Dean Sadek", a businessman kidnapped on November 2, 2004, in Baghdad. He was shown in a video that month and in another video dated Christmas Eve but released in late January on NBC. He has not been seen or heard from since. His kidnappers demanded the release of Iraqi prisoners.
Jeffrey Ake, a contractor, was kidnapped on April 11, 2005, and shown in a videotape two days later. He has not been seen or heard from since. His kidnappers demanded $2 million in exchange for his release. After three weeks of negotiations, the kidnappers cut off all communication. Ake is presumed dead and his family held a private funeral for him in the summer of 2014.
Ali Belaroussi, Algerian Chargé d'affaires, and Azzedin Belkadi, Algerian diplomatic attache, were kidnapped on July 21, 2005 in Baghdad. The Algerian government, on July 27, 2005, said the diplomats had been killed.
Bert Nussbaumer, a contractor, was kidnapped along with four Americans on November 16, 2006. They appeared in two hostage videos released in December 2006 and January 2007. Their kidnappers demanded the withdrawal of America troops from Iraq and the release of all Iraqi prisoners in exchange for the hostages' release. One of Nussbaumer's fingers was sent to U.S. authorities in February 2008. Three of the Americans and Nussbaumer were found dead in March 2008. The other American was found dead in April 2008.
João José Vasconcelos, an engineer, was kidnapped on January 19, 2005, in an ambush on the Baghdad Airport road. His body was found more than two years after his kidnapping. It is believed that he died from injuries sustained in the abduction shortly after arriving at the house where his captors planned to hold him.
Zaid Meerwali, who held dual Canadian-Iraqi citizenship, was seized August 2, 2005, and $250,000 in ransom was demanded. Officials in Canada said, that on August 15, 2005, he had been shot in the head while the family was preparing the ransom money.
Seven workers - Xue Yougui, Lin Jinping, Li Guiwu, Li Guiping, Wei Weilong, Chen Xiaojin, and Lin Kongming - were abducted on April 11, 2004 near Fallujah, but were released on April 13, 2004.
Eight unemployed construction workers were kidnapped by a group calling itself "The Islamic Resistance, al-Numan Brigades" on January 18, 2005, as they tried to leave the country. They were released four days later. The group included three teenagers.
Victor Tawfiq Gerges, truck driver, was kidnapped with Turk Bulent Yanik on 1 June, 2004. He was released on 18 June, 2004.
Alsayeid Mohammed Alsayeid Algarabawi, truck driver, was kidnapped on 6 July 2004. He was released on 19 July 2004.
Mohammed Ali Sanad, truck driver, was seized with three Indians and three Kenyans on 22 July, 2004. He was released on 1 September, 2004.
Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb, diplomat, was seized in Baghdad on 23 July, 2004. He was released on 26 July, 2004. 
Six employees for Iraqna, the local brand name for Egyptian telecoms giant Orascom, were kidnapped on 24 September, 2004, with the first two being released on 28 September, 2004. 
Four engineers, Mohammed al-Saadi, Hussein Ashour, Waleed Ismail and Sayed Shaaban working for Egyptian telecoms giant Orascom were kidnapped in Baghdad on 6 February, 2005. They were freed the next day by US forces.
Nabil Tawfiq Sulieman and Matwali Mohammed Salim, engineers for the firm Unitrak, were abducted on a road west of Baghdad, a video on an Islamic website said on 19 March, 2005. They were released a day later.
Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, two reporters, were kidnapped along with their Syrian driver on August 21, 2004. The driver was rescued on November 12. The two journalists were released on December 21. France allegedly paid $15 million in ransom for their release.
Florence Aubenas, a reporter for the daily Libération. She disappeared January 5, 2005 but was released with her Iraqi translator, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, on June 11. France allegedly paid $10 million in ransom for their release.
Bernard Planche, a water engineer, was kidnapped in Mansour on December 5, 2005. He was freed on January 7, 2006, when his captors fled the house where they were holding him during a military operation.
Susanne Osthoff, an archaeologist, was kidnapped along with her Iraqi driver on November 25, 2005, according to the German Foreign Ministry. They were released on December 18, 2005, after Germany allegedly paid the kidnappers $5 million ransom. It is also speculated that Germany released Mohammed Ali Hammadi in exchange for Osthoff's release.
Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, two engineers, were kidnapped by gunmen near Baiji on January 24, 2006. They appeared in four videos and their kidnappers demanded that Germany end its cooperation with the Iraqi regime, close its mission in Baghdad, ensure that all German businesses cease dealings there, and the release of all Iraqi prisoners held by US forces. On May 2, 2006, the German government announced the two had been freed. Germany allegedly paid $5 million ransom for their release.
Hannelore Marianne Krause, worked for the Austrian embassy in Baghdad, was kidnapped on February 6, 2007, with her son Sinan in Baghdad. Their kidnappers demanded that Germany withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. She was shown in three videos during her captivity. Hannelore was released on July 11, 2007. Her son's fate is unknown.
Sinan Krause, a technician at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, was kidnapped on February 6, 2007, with his mother Hannelore in Baghdad. Their kidnappers demanded that Germany withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Hannelore was released on July 10, 2007, but Sinan hasn't been seen or heard from since a video was released on September 11, 2007. The video was recorded before Hannelore was released. It showed Sinan saying goodbye to his mother. Their kidnappers issued a final 10-day deadline in the video for Germany to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. They threatened to slit Sinan's throat if their demand was not met. On April 24, 2008, his father appealed to the captors to release his son. The kidnappers ignored the plea and Sinan's fate is unknown.
Istiqomah binti Misnad and Casingkem binti Aspin, two female workers of an electricity firm were kidnapped along with six Iraqis and two Lebanese in late September 2004. They appeared in a video broadcast on Al-Jazzera on September 30, 2004. The Islamic Army demanded that Indonesia free Abu Bakar Bashir in exchange for the release of the two women. Bashir refused to be released for the two Indonesian women and Indonesia also said it would not free him. The Islamic Army also demanded that the Lebanese government withdraw all nationals working in Iraq for the release of the two Lebanese men. The women were released on October 4, 2004. The six Iraqis were freed later that month after they "repented" working for the Americans and the two Lebanese were freed for ransom in November, 2004.
Meutya Hafid, a reporter, and Budiyanto, a cameraman, were kidnapped along with their Jordanian driver on February 15, 2005. They were freed on February 21, 2005.
Fereidoun Jahani, an Iranian diplomat, was kidnapped near Karbala on August 4, 2004. He was released on September 27, 2004.
Six Iranian pilgrims and their Iraqi guide were kidnapped on November 28, 2005. Their Iraqi driver was wounded but was not abducted. The Iraqi guide and two of the Iranian pilgrims (all women) were released a day later. The four male hostages were released on February 10, 2006.
Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International -- who held British, Iraqi and Irish citizenship -- was kidnapped in Baghdad on October 19, 2004. Her Iraqi driver and Iraqi unarmed security guard were not taken. She was killed in a video released on November 16, 2004.
Nabil Razouk, an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem working for the US company Research Triangle International, was kidnapped April 8, 2004. He was freed on April 22, 2004, after pleas from his family and Palestinians.
Ibrahim al-Maharmeh, a businessman, was kidnapped in Baghdad on March 5, 2005. He was released on March 8, 2005, after a ransom was paid.
Mahmoud Suleiman Saidat, a driver for the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, was kidnapped on December 20, 2006. He was later shown on a videotape calling for the release of failed suicide bomber Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi. He was released on February 21, 2007.
Mohammed Hamad, was kidnapped when he was seven years old on October 22, 2004, after being lured into a car by his captors while he was walking home from school. His captors told him his father was hurt in a car accident. They also told his father that they would behead his son unless they were paid $150,000. They eventually lowered their demand to $70,000 and then lowered it again to $1,725. The $1,725 ransom was paid and Mohammed was released on October 29, 2004.
Marwan Ibrahim al-Qassar and Mohammed Jawdat Hussein were kidnapped by the Islamic Army in Iraq in late on in September 2004 along with six Iraqis and two Indonesian women. They appeared in a video broadcast on Al-Jazeera on September 30, 2004. The Islamic Army demanded that Indonesia free Abu Bakar Bashir in exchange for the release of the two women. Bashir refused to be released for the two Indonesian women and Indonesia also said it would not free him. The Islamic Army also demanded that the Lebanese government withdraw all nationals working in Iraq for the release of the two Lebanese men. The Iraqis and the two Indonesian women were freed in October 2004. Marwan and Mohammed were freed in exchange for a ransom in November 2004.
Driver Abderrahim Boualam and assistant Abdelkrim El Mouhafidim, both workers at the Moroccan embassy in Baghdad, went missing on October 20, 2005 while driving back from Jordan. On October 25, 2005, militants claimed their kidnapping. On November 3, 2005, Al Qaeda in Iraq said in an internet statement that it had decided to kill the two hostages. Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly later confessed to having arranged the kidnappings. He stated that two Kurds were kidnapped with the Moroccans and were later released.
Gyanendra Shrestha, Manoj Kumar Thakur, Rajendra Kumar Shrestha, Jit Bahadur Thapa, Budha Kumar Shas, Ramesh Khadka, Mangal Bahadur Limbu, Sanjaya Kumar Thakur, Lalan Sing Koirala, Chhok Bahadur Thapa, Prakash Adhikari, and Bishnu Hari Thapa, were twelve Nepalese taken hostage on August 23, 2004. A video from August 31, 2004, showed the beheading of one and the shooting in the head of the eleven others.
Azad Hussein Khan, an engineer and Sajjad Naeem, a driver, were kidnapped on July 23, 2004, and killed. Their captors demanded their Kuwaiti company leave Iraq. In a video released on July 29, 2004, their bodies were shown. An Iraqi driver who was held with them was released.
Fyodor Zaitsev, third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Iraq, and embassy employees Rinat Agliulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fyodoseyev were abducted after an ambush in Baghdad on June 3, 2006. Another employee, Vitaly Titov, was shot and killed. A group claimed to have executed them on June 21, 2006, and a video released on June 25, 2006, confirmed their deaths. The kidnapper group gave 48 hours to the Putin administration to pull out his troops from Chechnya. The bodies of the four diplomats were found in April 2012.
Three energy workers, working for the Interenergoservis, were kidnapped April 12, 2004, along with five Ukrainians and a man immediately released, all were released the next day with the insurgents apologizing, noting that they did not realise they were Russian and Ukrainian.
Andrei Meshcheryakov and Aleksandr Gordiyenko, employees of Interenergoservis, were kidnapped on May 10, 2004, but released on May 17, 2004.
Johann Enslin (48), Andre Durant (38), Hardus Greeff (43) and Callie Scheepers (48), contractors, the so-called Baghdad Four, were abducted at a bogus roadblock in Baghdad by unidentified men on December 10, 2006, along with five Iraqis. The Iraqis were released two days later. Ten days after the abduction, Andre spoke to his wife briefly in a "proof of life" phone call. There were some talks that these four were still alive in May 2010, but since then there has been no word on their fate and their families later had them declared legally dead.
Noureddin Zakaria, a translator, was kidnapped on October 30, 2004, in Ramadi. He was released on November 6, 2004.
Six Sudanese, including the second secretary at the Sudanese embassy, were abducted in Baghdad on December 23, 2005. They were released on December 31, 2005, after Sudan closed its embassy in Baghdad.
Mohammed Haroun Hamad, a truck driver, was kidnapped along with his colleague Maher Ataya sometime in March 2005. The Islamic Army claimed responsibility in a statement and internet video for the abductions on March 9. The group claimed that a Sharia Council would decide their fates. On April 6, 2005, a second video announced that the Sharia Council decided to release Mohammed and Maher after they "repented" working for the Americans.
Two Swiss nationals, a married couple who worked for a NGO, were kidnapped on April 20, 2004, by an unknown group. They were held hostage for 48 hours and released on April 22, 2004, after relatives of the kidnappers from the Obaida tribe promised to pressure Yemeni authorities. Some reports listed the couple as tourists.
Durmus Kumdereli, a truck driver, was kidnapped on August 14, 2004. He was having dinner in a restaurant a few miles away from Mosul. He was kidnapped in that restaurant with Mustafa Köksal by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's men. Kumdereli was decapitated on August 17, 2004 by Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad. Koksal was freed on August 18, 2004.
Dursun Ali Yildirim Tek, a truck driver, was kidnapped on July 23, 2006. Two videos were broadcast on the internet in which his captors demanded the Turkish government end all cooperation with Iraq and that they shut down the company Tek worked for. In the second video, a 72-hour deadline was issued in which Turkey had to give in to the captors' demands or Tek would be executed. He was killed in October after the deadline passed and his body was found near Baghdad's Airport. His body was identified a month and a half later.
Murat Yuce, a truck driver, was kidnapped in Iraq along with his colleague Aytullah Gezmen in late July 2004. A video showing Abu Ayyub al-Masri shooting Yuce in the head was posted on a web site on August 2, 2004. Aytullah was released a month later after he "repented" working for the Americans.
Maher Kemal, a contractor, was reported beheaded on October 11, 2004.
Bulent Yanik, a truck driver, was kidnapped on June 1, 2004 and released on June 18.
Abdulkadir Tanrikulu, a businessman, abducted by gunmen from the Bakhan Hotel in Baghdad on January 13, 2005. He was freed on June 29, 2005.
Ali Musluoglu, a businessman, was kidnapped in Baghdad on May 19, 2005. He was released on September 20, 2005 in exchange for a $250,000 ransom.
Aytullah Gezmen, a truck driver, was kidnapped on July 31, 2004, along with his colleague Murat Yuce. Murat was executed on August 16, 2004. Aytullah was released a month later after he "repented" working for the Americans.
Mustafa Köksal, a truck driver, was kidnapped on August 14, 2004, along with his colleague Durmus Kumdereli. Kumdereli was beheaded on August 17, 2004. Köksal was freed on August 18, 2004.
Hasan Eskimutlu, a technician, was kidnapped on June 14, 2006, along with his Iraqi translator. His captors sent a video to Aljazeera in which they demanded the Turkish government withdraw its ambassador from Baghdad and that they put pressure on the Iraqi government to free male and female prisoners from U.S and Iraqi prisons. They were freed on August 2, 2006.
Naji Rashid al-Nuaimi, the first secretary of the UAE's embassy in Baghdad, was abducted by gunmen on May 16, 2006. His captors demanded that the UAE abandon its presence in Iraq. Nuaimi was freed on May 30, 2006. His Sudanese driver was wounded and later died of his injuries.