MS Risk Blog

Abducted Jordanian Ambassador to Libya Released

Posted on in Jordan, Libya title_rule

13 May 2014– Fawaz al-Itan, Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, has been freed after he was abducted by gunmen in Tripoli last month. According to Jordanian officials, al-Itan was unharmed, and is returning to Jordan immediately.

On 15 April, masked gunmen shot at Itan’s car, wounding the driver.  Al-Itan was abducted, and investigators report that the kidnappers had demanded the return of their colleague, Mohamed Dersi, in exchange for the ambassador. Dersi is a Libyan militant who was jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up an airport in Jordan. There were conflicting reports about whether this demand had been met. The Libyan government said it established indirect contact with the abductors, but did not provide any more details.

Libya’s already unstable government has been further shaken by weakness at the highest levels. The Libyan parliament issued a vote of no-confidence to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in March, due to his inability to take control of the militants causing chaos in the nation.

Weeks later, Zeidan’s successor, Abdulla al-Thani, resigned after an attack on his family by unknown militants. New votes for a prime minister have resulted in a heated deadlock. In the first round of voting to replace al-Thani, militants entered the parliamentary building as voting was taking place, causing members of cabinet to evacuate.

Libya’s weakened government remains unable to assert authority over the numbers armed militant groups who were put in place to oust Muammar Gaddafi from his 41-year rule in 2011. The militant groups have consistently conducted kidnappings and assassination attempts. While most of the targets of abductions have been Libyan officials, the militants have previously abducted members of foreign envoys.

On 17 April, a Tunisian diplomat was abducted in Tripoli, weeks after an employee of the Tunisian embassy was taken. According to the government in Tunis, their captors demanded the release of two Libyans held for “terrorism” in Tunisia. In January, gunmen detained six Egyptian diplomats and embassy employees for a few days following the arrest of a Libyan militia commander in Egypt.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, said that al-Itan is in good condition, and was unharmed during the abduction, “The ambassador is doing well and he is now making his way back to his country.”

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