Politics

Kidnapping Puts Focus on Obama Hostage Swaps

News of the abduction of Americans in Iraq comes same day as prisoners exchanged with Iran

Three American citizens in Baghdad, Iraq, were allegedly kidnapped from their interpreter’s apartment on Sunday.

News of the kidnappings reached Americans the same day the Obama administration announced a prisoner swap with Iran, an uncomfortable coincidence that was not lost on keen observers.

Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Monday morning, John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said, “I’m not saying that what just happened in Iraq yesterday was planned to coincide with (the Iranian prisoner-swap). I’m sure it was not. But it highlights in the most human way what happens when people think they can get something by taking American hostages.”

The Obama administration in 2014 also swapped five senior Taliban operatives for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who allegedly deserted his post in Afghanistan.

Iraq has seen a number of recent kidnappings carried out by groups ranging from ISIS, to Shia militias to run-of-the-mill criminal gangs unaffiliated with ideology or sect. So far, no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the latest abduction.

However, the apartment from which the Americans were taken has a reputation in the area as a brothel. It’s the frequent target of raids by Shiite militias, according to a police official and a resident of the building who both spoke to The Washington Post.

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One of those militias is the Iran-backed Asa’ib ah al-Haqq, which suggests there may indeed be some connection in timing to the recent prisoner-swap with the Iranians.

After their abduction, the Americans were taken to Sadr City, at which point “all communications and contact stopped,” an unnamed Iraqi official told the Associated Press. Sadr City is named for radical Shiite cleric Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and is a well-known Shiite stronghold, which further suggests the possible involvement in the kidnapping of an Iran-backed Shiite militia.

Criticizing the prisoner swap with Iran, Bolton said it sends the message that “America will bargain again for hostages, and the only question is what price.”

If the kidnapping in Baghdad on Sunday turns out to be the beginning of an increase in kidnappings of American citizens, we will know that our enemies received that message quite loud and clear.

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