Two dozen Qatari hunters kidnapped in Iraq

Around 26 Qatari hunters were captured in southern Iraq by unknown militants.

Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters
Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah attends a meeting for Gulf states Foreign Ministers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 7, 2015.

At least 26 Qatari hunters have been captured in the southern Iraqi desert near Saudi Arabia during a hunting trip, according to officials.

The group of Qataris wasn’t following government-prescribed safety protocols and had wandered to al-Muthana, an unsecured area on the border of Saudi Arabia, Iraqi officials said. Unidentified militants raided their camp in four-wheel drive vehicles at dawn on Wednesday, abducting 26 men and leaving a few behind. No group has claimed responsibility yet, though a large-scale search is being conducted.

“Those hunters were moving on large scale in the desert without committing to the Ministry of Interior measures of not crossing to specific areas which aren’t secured,” a ministry statement said. 

Qatar’s foreign ministry released a statement that it was working with Iraq’s government “at the highest security and political levels … to find out the details of the Qatari citizens’ abduction and work on their release as soon as possible.”

Iraq’s southern provinces are known to be home to Shiite Muslim militias backed by Iran. Some such militias have played major roles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. But the kidnappings have risen significantly over the past year. 

Last September, a Shiite militia group abducted 18 Turkish construction workers at a construction site on the outskirts of Baghdad. The kidnappers demanded that Turkey stop allowing militants to flow from Turkey to Iraq, and also to return allegedly stolen petroleum from Iraq's Kurdistan region. They also demanded Turkish authorities direct Syrian rebels to allow humanitarian aid into four Shiite towns in Syria that were under siege. The Turkish construction workers were released nearly a month later. 

Iraq’s interior ministry claims the abduction of the Qatari hunters was meant to “achieve political and media goals,” while other officials have suggested that the abductions are likely meant to deter tourists from venturing into the area.

Many wealthy citizens from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq hunt with falcons in Iraq, where wild game cannot be found elsewhere, and where there are no bag limits or conservation measures.

“We consider such acts’ purpose is to spoil our reputation and to show that southern Iraq isn’t secured which isn’t correct,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement.

Qatar immediately announced it was sending high-level officials to the area to work on the release of the citizens. Qatar is often accused by Iraq as being a supporter of Sunni militant groups, including the Islamic State, which has captured land in Iraq and Syria, but Qatar has denied these claims.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Two dozen Qatari hunters kidnapped in Iraq
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today