Iraqi officials claimed gunmen kidnapped 26 Qatari falcon hunters, including members of the royal family, in southern Iraq.
At least 100 men in dozens of vehicles descended upon the camp at dawn in Layyah, located in Samawah province.
“An armed group driving dozens of pickup trucks kidnapped at least 26 Qatari hunters from their camp in the area of Busaya in Samawa desert near Saudi borders,” announced Samawa Governor Falih al-Zayady.
Police confirmed security forces escorted the group of hunters, but they “decided not to engage” with the gunmen.
“We are talking about at least 100 gunmen armed with light and medium weapons broke into the Qatari camp and abducted the hunters at around 3 am local time on Wednesday,” explained the police colonel.
No group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping. The Qatari government said they are working with their counterparts in Iraq “at the highest security and political levels… to find out the details of the Qatari citizens’ abduction and work on their release as soon as possible.” The Iraqi officials gave the hunters permission to hunt inside the country, but the interior ministry “accused the hunters of failing to abide by its instructions to remain inside secured areas.”
It is common for wealthy falconry hunters in the Gulf to travel to southern Iraq this time of year “mainly because they do not face the tough restrictions of killing certain species they face at home.” The falcon preferred “is the Asian houbara bustard, akin to a small turkey,” which requires travel to Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to find.
A CIA officer claimed in 1998 a “CIA-run sniper team in Afghanistan observed Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda followers,” but could not do anything “for risk of harming the Emirati hunters who were with them.”
On September 2, radical Islamists kidnapped sixteen Turkish workers at a stadium outside of Baghdad. The group “used a familiar Shi’ite Muslim slogan and threatened to attack Turkish interests in Iraq if its demands were not met.”
The group released the men on September 30 without any explanation. Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan met the prisoners in Baghdad and flew home with them, where they were reunited with their families.
“They treated us very well where they kept us, we didn’t have any problems. We were released because of the government, we’re very thankful,” stated one of the workers, Coskun Yilmaz.
In 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) kidnapped 46 Turkish nationals in Mosul. They released the people after 100 days.