China’s plan to rescue Islamic State hostage Fan Jinghui ‘foiled by Russian and French air strikes’

France and Russia got in way of attempt by Beijing to pay ransom, says former reporter

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 12:44pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2015, 12:03am

China was making progress in rescuing hostage Fan Jinghui, who was killed by Islamic State, before its attempt was thwarted by Russian and French air strikes on the terrorist group, Chinese media have reported.

Qiu Yongzheng, a former war correspondent who now works for a Chinese think tank, told the social-media account of People’s Daily that IS had made a ransom request to Fan’s family and relevant departments in the government through different channels. Beijing had been communicating with the group.

“We even knew that the hostage was located approximately in the Anbar province of Iraq, and the rescue effort had made certain progress,” Qiu was quoted as saying. “But recently, countries such as Russia and France started heavy air strikes against IS, which upset the group’s overall arrangement and original plans.

“This had led to the interruption of channels to rescue the hostage. Since IS did not receive the money, they killed him.”

Read more: A drifter who thrived on insecurity: the Chinese hostage killed by Islamic State

France has been conducting air strikes in Syria against IS since September 27, and Moscow since six weeks ago.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed over 100 people last Friday, the French air force has launched waves of raids on Raqqa, the Syrian city that IS claims as its headquarters. Russia has also targeted the city.

The news of Fan’s capture was revealed in September, when IS announced that he and a second captive, Norwegian Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, were both “for sale”.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the government had made “all-out efforts” to rescue Fan.

It strongly condemned the killings of Fan and Grimsgaard-Ofstad, which were announced by IS on Wednesday.

Qiu said there had been a political agenda behind the timing of the killing of the hostages.

“The killing of the hostages happened just around the time of the Group of 20 summit and Apec [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] summit.”

But Qiu stressed that failing to obtain the ransom was the main reason IS killed the men.

He said China resorted to negotiation as its first choice to rescue Chinese nationals abducted by terrorist groups, and avoided the use of force.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Liu Jieyi, China’s envoy to the UN, strongly condemned IS for killing Fan and called for global cooperation in fighting terrorism.