Militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are holding a 26-year-old American woman — who was taken as a hostage August 4, 2013 — and are demanding a multi-million dollar ransom, sources familiar with the situation told NBC News.
She was on a humanitarian mission in the region at the time of her capture, the source said, but family members do not want her name released for her own safety. The sources say the young woman was taken hostage with several others, all of whom have since been released.
NBC News has learned ISIS has demanded a $6.6 million ransom and/or the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of attempted murder by a New York federal court in 2010.
More than a week ago, freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, N.H., was beheaded by ISIS, which kidnapped him in November 2012. Foley's captors had demanded $132.5 million (100 million euros) from his parents and political concessions from Washington. On Sunday, American writer Peter Theo Curtis was freed by militants affiliated with al-Qaeda in Syria after being held for two years.
In response to questions about the woman, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a press conference on Tuesday that "I'm not going to speak to American citizens who may or may not be detained and certainly not going to entertain what may or may not be considered."
"The serious note here is that for the safety and security of any individual who is being held, including any reporter, your colleagues, we don't talk about the details for that reason," she added.
— Peter Alexander and Hasani Gittens
First published August 26 2014, 1:05 PM