The Italian hostages (Reuters)
Now that they control Spain’s foreign policy, the jihadists are attempting to gain control of Italy’s as well. Their attempt to exact tribute from Berlusconi seems to have fallen through, and now they say that the freedom of the Italian hostages rests on the size of antiwar protests in Italy. From Reuters, with thanks to Diana Applebaum:
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government and opposition leaders refused on Tuesday to bow to demands by kidnappers in Iraq who have threatened to kill three hostages unless Italians protest against their country’s military presence there.
But relatives of the hostages pleaded with Italians to help set the men free and participate in rallies on Wednesday and Thursday, not to denounce the government but to call for the release of the three Italian security workers. …
Leaders from across the political spectrum rallied around Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right coalition, vowing Italy would not give in to blackmail.
“We, who were against the war, are completely opposed to any negotiation with kidnappers and terrorists. The government is continuing to work with seriousness and discretion for the release of the hostages,” said Francesco Rutelli, leader of the center-left Daisy party.
Berlusconi’s office said in a statement the government was doing all it could to secure their release.
But families and friends of the private security workers abducted two weeks ago said there was no time to lose.
“I’m asking that all the mothers and fathers in Italy do everything they can so that our boys can come home,” said Angelo Stefio, the father of one of the hostages. “We need everyone.”
Marches are being organized in the captives’ hometowns for Wednesday and in Rome on Thursday, but it was not clear how much support they would get.