International Solidarity Movement activist Vittorio Arrigoni was kidnapped in Gaza today. News sources in the Gaza Strip say that the kidnappers are members of a Salafi group. In a YouTube video, the group threatens to kill Arrigoni in 30 hours, counting from 11 AM in Gaza (10 AM in Italy), if the Hamas government does not free Salafi detainees.
The first report, citing unnamed sources in the Gaza media, mentioned that three armed men kidnapped Arrigoni in Gaza City.
An Italian Foreign Ministry official, contacted by PeaceReporter, stated that a crisis unit is verifying the authenticity of the YouTube video. The news came to the foreign ministry through media sources. No other news about Arrigoni is available.
Saad Nimer, a spokesperson for Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned Palestinian leader, told PeaceReporter: “I am shocked and disturbed. Who can possibly be interested in kidnapping an Italian solidarity activist who is working in a difficult environment like Gaza? Stupid, really stupid. We will immediately take action to figure out what happened and why.”
Sheikh al-Saidani (also known as Abu Walid al-Maqdisi), the foremost among the detainees whose release the Gazan Salafi kidnappers of Arrigoni are demanding, is the leader of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, a Salafist formation devoted to “jihad” (sacred war to the bitter end) and in support of Al Qaeda. Egyptian by birth, he was arrested a little over a month ago by the Egyptian security service1 on account of his alleged involvement in a series of attacks. According to Haaretz, in April 2006, Maqdisi’s group claimed responsibility for the attacks on hotels in Sinai, Egypt in which 19 people were killed. The Israeli newspaper maintains that Hamas is on the highest state of alert for fear of retaliation by the sheikh’s supporters.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows
the wounded and blindfolded ISM human rights activist.
Click here for an Italian translation of the text that appears in the YouTube video.
Vittorio is a long-time collaborator with PeaceReporter, among his many tireless activities to tell the tragic reality of Gaza.
All the PeaceReporter editorial team members are committed to keeping in mind Vittorio’s signature sign-off message: Restiamo umani (Let us stay human).
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Update: “Hamas Says Body of Kidnapped Activist Found” (Associated Press, 14 April 2011); “Body of Abducted Italian Activist Found in Gaza City” (Ma’an News Agency, 15 April 2011); “Palestinian Factions Denounce Murder of Italian Activist” (Ma’an News Agency, 15 April 2011).
The original article “Vittorio Arrigoni sequestrato a Gaza City” was published in PeaceReporter on 14 April 2011. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com). Cf. “If you have some way to be helpful please e-mail me at maxsajl at gmail dot com” (“Vik Arrigoni Kidnapped. . . . ,” Jewbonics, 14 April 2011); International Solidarity Movement + Free Gaza Movement, “Palestinians Call for Release of Italian Activist Kidnapped in Gaza” (14 April 2011).