About 18 months back a group of Qataris were taken as hostages near the Saudi-Iraq border who were in the area on a hunting trip. Reuters had reported at that time that at least 26 Qataris were taken hostage by unknown gunmen, presumably Shiite militiamen.
A minor breakthrough in the matter was achieved in April of last year, when the gunmen released one Qatari and an Asian man from captivity.
Efforts to secure the release of the hostages have been on for quite some time now and according to the Associated Press, a member of Qatar’s ruling family has already spent at least $2 million to make that happen. AP reports that Khalifa bin Fahed bin Mohammed Al Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family has paid $2 million to a Greek shoe salesman’s firm to secure “proof of life” and ultimately free relatives and others kidnapped in Iraq over a year ago.
The AP report cites U.S. Justice Department documents and says that Al Thani has signed a $2 million contract with a San Diego based company namely Global Strategies Inc. to
Citing documents obtained from the U.S. Justice Department, AP said that Al Thani signed a contract with San Diego-based Global Strategies Council Inc. calling for the group “to obtain proof of life,” speak to government agencies and “attempt to negotiate with captors for the release of captive members of the royal family of Qatar.
Global Strategies has, according to AP, roped in hackers and launched a campaign to find out information about the hostages both on clear net as well as dark net. The darknet site asks: “Do you have a tip worth 25 million euro?”, reports AP.
The company is also making use of social media to gather information about the hostages, one such message reads as follows:
“We understand money will always be a part of any equation. There is ALWAYS room for negotiation regarding any detail.”
It is worth noting that even after such a long time it is still not clearly known who is behind the kidnapping, although it is presumed that Shiite militiamen are behind it.
Qatari Govt. has not publicly said anything about making any payments of ransom to the kidnappers.