On October 15, 2013, Samir Kassab, a Lebanese photographer working for the Abu Dhabi-based broadcaster Sky News Arabia, disappeared along with Mauritanian reporter Iszhak Ould Mokhtar while they were reporting in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, according to his employer, a statement released by his family, and the regional press freedom group Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
The journalists’ driver also disappeared; his name has been withheld at the request of his family.
On April 1, 2019, Syrian journalist Louai Abo al-Joud, who was held hostage by the Islamic State militant group from November 28, 2013, to May 2, 2014, told CPJ that he believes that Kassab, Mokhtar, and the driver were being held in an Islamic State jail in the industrial area of Sheikh Najjar, northeast of Aleppo.
The jail held several foreign journalists, who were separated from the Syrians, al-Joud said.
On April 19, 2019, the privately owned Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International announced that Lebanese authorities had notified Kassab’s family that the journalist had died in Aleppo “a long time ago.” Kassab’s family dismissed the rumors as unfounded, according to news reports.
On April 28, 2019, Razan Hamdan, Kassab’s fiancée, told CPJ that no group has ever claimed responsibility for the journalists’ abduction.
Hamdan told CPJ that several Syrian and French journalists who were kidnapped by the Islamic State and subsequently released, including Karam al-Masri, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres, told her that Kassab, Mokhtar, and the driver were held in Sheikh Najjar. Henin and Torres were released in 2014, as CPJ reported at the time.