The U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on ISIS kidnapping networks or the people responsible for kidnapping five Christian clerics.
Greek Orthodox Priest Maher Mahfouz and Armenian Catholic Priest Michael Kayyal were on a public bus traveling to a monastery in Kafrun, Syria on February 9, 2013. Some 30 kilometers outside of Aleppo, suspected ISIS extremists stopped the vehicle, checked passengers’ documents, then removed the two priests from the bus. They have not been seen or heard from since.
On April 22, 2013, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Bolous Yzigia were ambushed in their vehicle by armed men at a checkpoint near al-Mansoura, Syria. The clerics’ driver was later found dead. Initially believed to have been kidnapped by persons aligned with the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra Front, the archbishops were later transferred to ISIS.
On July 29, 2013, ISIS abducted Italian Jesuit Priest Paolo Dall’Oglio in Raqqah. Father Dall’Oglio had planned to meet with ISIS to ask for the release of Fathers Mahfouz and Kayyal and Archbishops Ibrahim and Yazigi. He has not been seen or heard from since.
The State Department declared that the kidnapping of religious leaders demonstrates ISIS’ ruthless tactics and approval of targeting innocent individuals. It also noted that ISIS remains a significant threat to the United States, as well as our allies and partners throughout the Middle East and around the world. The United States will continue to support our partners in efforts to defeat this threat and deny ISIS safe haven anywhere.
Since its inception in 1984, the Rewards for Justice Program has paid in excess of $150 million to more than 100 people who provided actionable information that helped bring terrorists to justice or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.
If you have information on ISIS kidnapping networks or on the people responsible for kidnapping Christian clerics, please contact the Rewards for Justice website at www.rewardsforjustice.net; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or contact the Regional Security Officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.