Rome following jihadi-held Italian hostage situation with ‘utmost attention’

AFP-JIJI

Rome is following the fate of an Italian hostage “with the utmost attention” after a jihadi group released a video showing him with two armed men, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Alessandro Sandrini, a 32-year-old from near the northern city of Brescia, vanished in October 2016 after traveling to Turkey for a holiday, before appearing in a video released by the SITE group, which tracks jihadi organizations.

SITE, an American company that tracks the online activity of white supremacist and jihadi organizations, did not identify the group behind the videos.

“The foreign ministry has been following the case from the beginning, with the greatest attention and the greatest reserve, in close contact with the family,” a ministry spokesman told AFP.

Sandrini appeared in one of two separate but similar videos released on Tuesday, with the other featuring captured Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda.

In both videos the men are kneeling, wearing an orange suit and flanked by armed men. Sandrini gives the date as July 19, says he has been in prison for two years and that this is his last request for help from the Italian government.

The ministry did not confirm that Sandrini had been abducted in Turkey, as widely reported in Italian media.

They report that Sandrini disappeared on the second day of a planned week’s holiday in Adana, a large industrial city in southern Turkey not known as a major tourist destination.

In December his mother broke the silence recommended by the ministry after receiving several short phone calls from her son, which eventually totaled four between October and January.

During these brief conversations, she said, Sandrini told her that he was being held hostage, in a room no bigger than 9 sq. meters, in the presence of other hostages that he could not see.

Local newspaper Brescia Today quotes investigators as saying that he was initially kidnapped by a group before being handed over to another, who have detained him somewhere on the Turkey-Syria border.