Female german archeologist Susanne Osthoff, 43, and her Iraqi driver were apparently kidnapped in Iraq by an unknown group on Friday, as was stated by
the german public TV channel ARD referring to a video submitted to them. Only a still photo of the video was released, showing the woman and her
driver blindfolded among a group of three hooded and armed men, one of them holding a paper. The alleged kidnappers demanded that Germany stopped all
cooperation with the Iraqi government. No details of the demands were released to the public yet.
Released still image
A GERMAN woman has been missing in Iraq since Friday and the Berlin Government was trying to establish what had happened to her, a foreign ministry
spokesman said in Washington.
The Government had set up a special team to handle the affair with the aim of "establishing the fate of the missing woman", spokesman Martin Jaeger
said, on the sidelines of a visit to Washington by new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
ARD said it had obtained a video cassette in Baghdad in which the kidnappers threatened to kill both unless the German Government broke off all
co-operation with the Iraqi government.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Seperately, the aid group "Christian Peacemaker Teams" reported that 4 of their activists had been taken hostage on Saturday (supporting link 1).
Although not the first hostage to be taken in Iraq, Mrs. Osthoff is insofar special as she avidly had worked for the Iraqi people and culture long
before Gulf War 3 and was one of the first to organize aid shipments toward the end of the Saddam Hussein government despite of the ongoing conflict,
sometimes under fire (supporting link 2, german language).
Following a cabinet meeting, the new german Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) stated that the german government decidedly demanded the two hostages to be
set free. She assured the international audience that the german government were considering every possible steps to assure the well-being of Osthoff
and her driver. The new german Minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), stated he "would know what has to be done" upon his
return from a current trip to the USA (supporting link 3, german language) - which could indicate a desired and possibly forceful cooperation with US
authorities in Iraq.
One of the hopes and emphasises of the german Iraq policy was not to get directly involved in local matters. This hope has been shattered now, and
Chancellor Merkel will have to face tough decisions right at the beginning of her first term in office. My hopes are that considering the long-time
contempt and commitment Susanne Osthoff has shown to the Iraqi people and culture (she is internationally known for her work as archeologist on Iraqi
historical sites) there will be local informants to aid authorities in the solving of this problem.
I also hold the opinion that Germany might resort to forceful extraction in case the negotiations lead nowhere, the question being if that would be
carried out by US/ISF SF groups or the german federal police GSG9. The german people is likely to support such measures instead of making concessions
to the criminals or paying a significant amount of money (which Osthoff would then have to pay back to the german state) - the BND (german secret
service) has been quite succesful at negotiating in the past. I cannot see this leading to any policy change by Germany.
(I am sorry for the links in german language, but english news coverage doesnt go in-depth as of now)
Edit: Image converted to link, minor correction
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[edit on 29/11/2005 by Lonestar24]