Canadian Gill Rosenberg ‘safe’ after reports of ISIS kidnapping
WATCH: The federal government said it was investigating claims that Canadian-Israeli Gill Rosenberg, who joined Kurdish fighters battling ISIS, had been kidnapped in Syria. But, it appears Rosenberg has taken to social media to deny the claims. Stuart Greer explains.
Reports that Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli citizen, had been captured by Islamic State militants in Syria were put to rest Monday after a post on her Facebook page telling friends she was safe.
“Guys, I’m totally safe and secure. I don’t have Internet access or any communication devices with me for my safety and security. I can’t reply regularly and only happened to have a chance to log in and see these buklshit (sic) news stories. Ignore the reports I’ve been captured.”
The post was made around 3:30 p.m. ET Monday afternoon and was in response to an Israeli newspaper report, Islamist websites claimed Sunday that extremists had kidnapped Rosenberg, who had joined Kurdish fighters overseas.
Federal officials are now assuming that the reported abduction of an Israeli-Canadian woman by Islamic militants may be false.
A government official who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter offered that assessment Monday as two federal cabinet ministers urged Canadians to avoid following in the footsteps of Gill Rosenberg, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas.
The government has not been able to confirm that Rosenberg is free and OK, but several unconfirmed social media reports suggest that is the case.
The Jerusalem Post said reports of Gill Rosenberg’s capture surfaced Sunday on websites “known to be close” to Islamic State extremists.
READ MORE: Who is Gill Rosenberg?
The newspaper said the websites give few details on the alleged kidnapping, only that it occurred after three suicide attacks on sites where Kurdish fighters were holed up.
Posts on Rosenberg’s Facebook timeline indicate she arrived in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, on Nov. 2 and then travelled through Turkey and into northern Syria sometime before Nov. 9.
Messages of concern were posted Sunday on a Facebook profile belonging to a Gill Rosenberg.
However, messages from people claiming to be friends of Rosenberg on Facebook maintained the Canadian-Israeli citizen was safe and the kidnapping allegations were “unfounded.”
“Rosenberg is safe and all the allegations about her kidnap are unfounded. A short time ago the head of #YPG forces in #Kobani refuted categorically these allegations,” Oliver Brimo wrote.
“Gill is safe and she is not active on Facebook cause she has no internet access. Once she has internet access she will be updating her status,” he added.
Mutlu Civiroglu is a Syria & Kurdish affairs analyst based in Washington, D.C. who’s been monitoring the fight between ISIS and Kurdish YPG. He told Global News his sources say Rosenberg is safe and ISIS is trying to divert international media attention with claims of a kidnapping.
Civiroglu said he spoke with defence chief of Kobani Ismet Sheikh Hassan, who refuted allegations that Rosenberg had been kidnapped—or even been in—Kobani. Civiroglu also said he spoke with an official who refused to be identified who was with Rosenberg Sunday.
“What Gil told her—according to her—was that she’s safe; she doesn’t want people to worry about her,” said Civiroglu.
“She’s in safe hands. So I can tell you the sources are telling me it’s ISIS propaganda that she was kidnapped.”
Civiroglu added ISIS is usually quick to spread photographs and videos to demonstrate when the group has kidnapped someone—but this has not been the case with Rosenberg.
“I haven’t seen her; I haven’t talked to her,” he said. “But those who I’ve spoken with assured me this was the case; several people have seen her and this individual official, she has spoken to her, so…I think it’s probably established that she is safe.”
The Times of Israel reported Sunday that Israel’s Foreign Ministry was investigating the report of Rosenberg’s capture, but that it said the websites reporting the story were “of dubious credibility.”
Clashes between ISIS and Kurdish troops have largely focused on the Syrian city of Kobani, near the Turkish border.
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The now-notorious al-Qaida splinter group is currently in control of large swaths of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
Foreign Affairs is advising against all travel to Syria and Iraq, because of the extremely volatile security situation and Canada’s limited ability to provide assistance to its citizens there.
With files from Global News reporters Nick Logan and Adam Frisk
© 2014 The Canadian Press