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Kidnapping of Tomislav Salopek

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The kidnapping of Tomislav Salopek, a Croatian expatriate worker, in Egypt, by the ISIL-affiliated Sinai Province, was the first such incident affecting a Croatian citizen.

HistoryEdit

Salopek, a 31-year-old Croatian topographer working for French company Compagnie Générale de Géophysique (CGG), was kidnapped on July 22, 2015 while he was on his way to CGG's base near Cairo. An armed group stopped his car and forced his driver to leave the vehicle and then drove off with him in an unknown direction.

No one knew anything about him for almost ten days. On August 5, 2015 a video entitled A Message to the Egyptian Government showed up on the internet in which the ISIL-affiliated group, known as Sinai Province, made Mr. Salopek, who was kneeling while a masked man with a knife in his hand stands beside him, read a note in which ISIL had set a 48-hour deadline for Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to release "female Muslim prisoners from Egyptian prisons", warning that Mr. Salopek would be killed if their demands were not met.[1][2]

A CGG spokesman later said that the kidnappers had contacted the company via e-mail, after first contacting Salopek's wife, and demanded tens of millions of euros for Salopek's release. The company responded on their mail the day after, urging kidnappers to give them confirmation that Mr. Salopek was still alive. CGG sent that same e-mail every day, but there was no reply. It is suspected that Mr. Salopek was first kidnapped by one group that asked CGG for ransom, and that they eventually, for unexplained reasons, gave him to ISIL.[3][4]

The Croatian Government immediately set off a strong diplomatic initiative in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić later stated that many other countries were also helping, including two of Croatia's most important allies, the United States and Germany, as well as many others such as France, the United Kingdom and other European Union member states. Russia and Serbia also offered their help.[5][6] All this took place during the opening of the New Suez Canal. French President Francois Hollande talked about the importance of finding Mr. Salopek during the speech he gave at the opening ceremony of the New Suez Canal.[7]

When the footage was published, Vesna Pusić, Salopek's wife Nataša, and agents of the Croatian Secret Service flew immediately to Cairo, where Mrs. Pusić met with her Egyptian colleague Sameh Shoukry. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, a former NATO official, spoke with Egyptian President al-Sisi. The president of the main organization of Muslims in Croatia, Aziz Effendi Hasanović, sent a "Call for help to the Arab Republic of Egypt to save innocent life". He contacted, among others, Egyptian government officials and the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam.[8]

In the next few days, four Egyptian security services in cooperation with the Egyptian army and the police launched a major rescue operation. The entire operation was personally led by the Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghafar. Security forces searched the series of terrorist strongholds in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah and Arish, as well as the Egypt-Libya and Gaza–Egypt borders.[9][10][11]

On August 12, 2015, ISIL supporters started to share via social media a photograph purporting to show the decapitated body of Salopek. Buried in the sand next to the body was the flag used by ISIL. ISIL declared that the alleged murder of Salopek was revenge on Croatia for its participation in the international coalition against ISIL. Croatia send smalls amounts of weapons like other European countries, such as Italy, Poland, Denmark and Albania.[12][13]

Croatian President Grabar-Kitarović, also a head of the Croatia Armed Forces, said: "I want to say firmly, as long as there is one glimmer of hope and one ounce of a chance that our Tomislav is still alive we will continue working, searching and trying to save his life. I would like to express gratitude to all those who are working on this case. First of all to the Croatian institutions and second, to all friendly countries and agencies, including many friends from Arab countries who are trying to save Tomislav's life."[14]

Following publication of the image, many state's officials condemned it. British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond stated: "If these reports are accurate I strongly condemn the alleged brutal murder of Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek by ISIL in Egypt. My thoughts are with his family and colleagues and with the Croatian people. Britain will stand by Egypt and Croatia in continuing opposition to this inhumane type of terrorism." The United States Department of State issued a statement in which they wrote: "Our thoughts are with Mr. Salopek's family and friends and Croatian people. If this news is confirmed, the murder of Mr. Salopek will be staggering crime that is at the core of ISIL's extremist agenda. We strongly condemn the brutality towards innocent victims throughout the Middle East. United States stand shoulder to shoulder with the Croatian people and all our partners in the fight against terrorism." The German Foreign Ministry also condemned this crime in its statement: "This heinous act shows once again that the fanatical ideology of ISIS threats to all of us. Germany will in cooperation with its international partners continue to do everything possible to suppress ISIS, not only militarily, but above all politically." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated: "I'm terrified about the news that the terrorist group announced that it murdered Croatian hostage. If confirmed this despicable murder will confirm once more cowardly and barbaric nature of this terrorist organization. I express my solidarity with the Croatian government and the people as well as with the family of Mr. Salopek. France condemns all forms of terrorism and stand with Croatia and Egypt in fight against this scourge."[15] The Spanish Government also reacted, stating: "We express our solidarity and full support to the family of Tomislav Salopek in these difficult times. We repeat to Croatia and Egypt our strong intention of continuing close cooperation in fight against terrorism, that ominous threat to the security and fundamental rights of all people. International community cannot remain silent and watch these mindless and brutal actions but must come together in a war against this disease of our society."[16]

Salopek is the first citizen of the Republic of Croatia to be kidnapped in a foreign country.[2]

See alsoEdit

  • David Haines, resided in Croatia before being kidnapped by ISIL

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "'Ja sam Tomislav Salopek. ISIS će me pogubiti za 48 sati ako Egipat ne oslobodi muslimanke iz zatvora' - Telegram". Telegram.hr. 2015-08-05. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  2. ^ a b "Concern for Croatian as ISIL execution deadline looms". Al Jazeera English. 2015-08-07. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  3. ^ "Salopekova kompanija svaki je dan slala e-mail otmičarima: "Tražili smo potvrdu da je živ" - Vijesti". Index.hr. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  4. ^ Loveluck, Louisa (2015-08-12). "Isil claim to have beheaded Croatian hostage in Egypt". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  5. ^ "Sreo Pusić u Kairu: Dačić u ime Srbije ponudio Hrvatskoj pomoć za oslobađanje Salopeka - Vijesti". Index.hr. 2015-08-08. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  6. ^ "Kronologija slučaja: Tomislav Salopek otet je 22. srpnja, vijesti su dolazile na kapaljku — Vijesti.hr". Vijesti.rtl.hr. 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  7. ^ "HRT: Pusić: "Nećemo se skrivati ispod stola"" (in Croatian). Vijesti.hrt.hr. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  8. ^ "TALAČKA DRAMA U EGIPTU Iz Kaira se u Hrvatsku vratila i supruga otetog hrvatskog državljanina Tomislava Salopeka". Jutarnji.hr. 2015-08-08. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  9. ^ "VELIKA OPERACIJA SPAŠAVANJA TOMISLAVA SALOPEKA Cijeli dan traju racije po mjestima na Sinaju, al-Sisi naredio: 'Dižite helikoptere!'". Jutarnji.hr. 2015-08-08. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  10. ^ P (2015-08-08). "Egipat podigao spasilačku operaciju na najvišu razinu: Tomislavove otmičare love Apache helikopteri - Vijesti". Index.hr. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  11. ^ Marina Barukčić (2015-08-08). "Četiri egipatske tajne službe nastavljaju potragu za Salopekom koji je navodno u Libiji — Vijesti.hr". Vijesti.rtl.hr. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  12. ^ Hall, John (2015-08-12). "ISIS behead Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek who was kidnapped in Cairo | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  13. ^ "Obama spomenuo Hrvate kao suborce u razbijanju IS-a, a Milanović tvrdi da ne sudjelujemo u akcijama - Vijesti". Index.hr. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  14. ^ "Kolinda: Dok ima nade, nastavljamo potragu i nastavljamo spašavanje Tomislavovog života - Vijesti". Index.hr. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  15. ^ "NAJMOĆNIJE SVJETSKE SILE STALE UZ HRVATSKU 'Amerika stoji rame uz rame s vama. Suosjećamo zbog ovog zločina s cijelim hrvatskim narodom'". Jutarnji.hr. 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  16. ^ "ŠPANJOLSKA BIJESNA ZBOG UBOJSTVA SALOPEKA 'Međunarodna zajednica ne može ostati tiha i gledati te bezumne i brutalne akcije'". Jutarnji.hr. 2015-08-14. Retrieved 2015-08-29.