Videos released of Japanese, Italian captives in Syria

This video image released on July 31, 2018, and provided courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group shows Japanese national, Yasuda Jumpei, appealing for his release as two armed men stand behind him at an unknown location in Syria on the July 25,2018 according to SITE. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018

Videos released of Japanese, Italian captives in Syria

  • The Italian hostage was kidnapped in Turkey in October 2016 before being taken to Syria

WASHINGTON: A terrorist group has released videos of a Japanese journalist and an Italian man held captive in Syria in which they appeal for their release, US-based monitors said Tuesday.
The two men — Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda and Italian national Alessandro Sandrini — appear in two separate videos that are nonetheless similar in their staging and were released by the SITE group, which tracks white supremacist and terrorist organizations.
SITE did not say which group was responsible for the videos.
Both men are shown kneeling in front of a wall wearing orange jumpsuits while armed men dressed head-to-toe in black stand behind them.
Jumpei is thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria in 2015.
He identifies himself as Korean in the video but speaks Japanese, giving the recording date as July 25, stating that he is in a bad situation and asking for help.
Sandrini gives a different date, July 19, and says that it is his last request to the Italian government.
The Italian hostage was kidnapped in Turkey in October 2016 before being taken to Syria, according to reports in the Italian media. He is believed to be from Brescia and is said to be around 32 years old.


US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

Updated 28 January 2020

US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

  • Dr Jack Lang was recognized for promoting the Arab region and cross-cultural understanding
  • First recipient of the Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations

WASHINGTON: Dr. Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, on Monday received the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations.

The honor was recognition for his achievements in expanding knowledge of the Arab region and promoting cross-cultural understanding. It was presented to him at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington by the council’s Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, board Chairman John Pratt, International Advisory Board member Leo A. Daly III, and Executive Vice President Patrick Mancino.

Lang and a delegation from the institute were in Washington for the opening of the IMA exhibition “Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

“What Monsieur Lang and the IMA have achieved in highlighting the rich history and culture of the Arab region is considerable,” said Anthony during the award presentation ceremony. “They have done much to showcase Arab contributions to knowledge and understanding that have benefited the world’s civilizations and humankind in general.

“Under Monsieur Lang’s leadership, the IMA has effectively pushed into new territories in storytelling and technology that help further illuminate the innumerable, extraordinary and myriad impacts that Arabs have had on humanity’s endless quest for modernization and development.”

Lang was appointed IMA president by French President Francois Hollande in 2013. He was previously a National Assembly member for more than two decades, including stints as France’s minister of culture and minister of education. He was also mayor of the city of Blois from 1989 to 2000, and served as a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The IMA, which is located on the banks of the Seine in Paris, opened in 1987 as a center dedicated to the promotion of Arab civilization, knowledge and art. It contains unique collections and hosts special touring exhibitions. These include “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia,” showcasing Saudi Arabia’s Nabataean archaeological treasure, the dates for which were recently extended after it proved to be incredibly popular.

The National Council on US-Arab Relations was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of the extraordinary benefits the United States has derived from its special relationships with countries in the Arab region, and vice versa. Anthony and the council are working on plans for an Arab Cultural Institute, similar to the IMA, in Washington.