New details have emerged about the abduction in Baghdad last March of dual Israeli-Russian citizen Elizabeth Tsurkov.
According to Arab sources, Princeton University researcher Tsurkov initiated a meeting with members of the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah (“The Battalions of the Party of God”) Shi’ite militia, a separate and distinct organization from the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
The U.S. has designated Kata’ib Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Tsurkov met with Ahmed Alewani, who gave her access to his son, David Muhammad Alewani—a senior Kata’ib Hezbollah official.
During their second meeting, the Alewanis discovered that she was Israeli and decided to kidnap her.
The sources said that there was at least one attempt to move Tsurkov to Iran but it was not clear if this attempt was successful.
Tsurkov, 36, a Princeton doctoral candidate and nonresident fellow at the Washington think tank New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, entered Iraq using a Russian passport, visiting the Kurdistan Region before heading to the Iraqi capital.
“Elizabeth Tsurkov is still alive, and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being,” the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement earlier this month.
“The matter is being handled by the relevant parties in the State of Israel out of concern for Elizabeth Tsurkov’s security,” it added.