Worldwide, there have been some developments in the situation of hostages around the world.

Most significantly, three Americans taken hostage by Iranian-controlled militia in Iraq have been freed, reportedly after the United States paid a large ransom to Iran. Their release received relatively little publicity.

They’re not the only hostages who were (or are) being held worldwide.

Hostages Currently Held by Rebel and Terrorist Groups | Graphiq

There are some important facts that may not be clear about that chart. First, note only individual and small-group hostage-taking is included. The mass hostage seizures and enslavements that Wahhabi groups like ISIL and Boko Haram are famous for do not show up on this mass. This is the retail, not wholesale, kidnappings.

Note also that almost all the captives are held by Islamic fundamentalists. The former kidnapping champions, the Mexican and Colombian narcos, barely make it onto the scoreboard.

How Many Hostages are Americans?

Only a few (like Jason Rezaian in Iran), and none of them military personnel.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (formerly DPMO, JCRC, etc. etc.) tracks American service members and support contractors missing or captured around the world. Six Americans are missing in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some of these are certainly bodies that have not been (and in the case of the losses at sea, almost certainly will not be) recovered. But without remains in hand, the case remains (no pun intended) open. Here’s the DPAA’s list.

Operation El Dorado Canyon, 1986

Capt. Paul F. Lorence, of San Francisco, U.S. Air Force, was lost on April 15, 1986, when his F-111 aircraft went down during a strike over Libya. (His navigator was recovered, dead, from shallow water in the Mediterranean -Ed.).

Operation Desert Storm, 1991

Lt. Cmdr. Barry T. Cooke, of Austin, Texas, U.S. Navy, was lost on Feb. 2, 1991, when his A-6 aircraft went down in the Persian Gulf.

Lt. Robert J. Dwyer, of Worthington, Ohio, U.S. Navy, was lost on Feb. 5, 1991, when his FA-18 aircraft went down in the Persian Gulf.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003-2010

Mr. Kirk Von Ackermann, of Albuquerque, N.M., DoD contractor, was lost on Oct. 9, 2003, while working in Forward Operating Base Pacesetter, Iraq. (According to the blog his wife used to maintain, he disappeared from a roadside in the Sunni Triangle after a flat tire. He is an Army Intelligence veteran. Unfortunately, his disappearance was investigated by CID, which means it’s unlikely the investigation was competent. Finding out what happened to Von Ackermann hinges on some Iraqi (1) having a conscience and (2) not having been whacked by the US, other Iraqis, Iranian-sponsored militias, etc. -Ed). 

Mr. Timothy E. Bell, of Mobile, Ala., DoD contractor, was lost on April 9, 2004, while working in Baghdad, Iraq. (Bell was taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents, along with one other American, when insurgents ambushed and overwhelmed an American convoy. The other man was freed by friendly forces. Bell was not found and his whereabouts and condition remain unknown -Ed.).

Mr. Adnan al-Hilawi, of Orlando, Fla., DoD contractor, was lost on March 3, 2007, while working in Baghdad, Iraq. We don’t have further information on him. 

There are websites out there that list dozens, scores of captives in Iraq, but they’re based on SIGACTS or INTSUMs leaked by Manning or Snowden, and most of the numbers don’t have names attached to them — they’re simply RUMINT and BOGINT that got into the system.

This entry was posted in Unconventional Warfare on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

5 thoughts on “A Handful of Hostages


The April 9 capture, is mis characterized. He was not freed by US Forces. He escaped on his own and found a US patrol.

Bell was captured and most likely killed. There were a couple others grabbed at the same time. Their bodies were recovered along the road eaten by dogs.

More than likely Bells remains was eaten by dogs as well.

I happen to know the guy who was captured and escaped. Due to a twist of fate, that was supposed to be my convoy group out there until half the guys quit and they sent the other convoy. My convoy had lost 11 trucks the day before and was supposed to turn around and return to Kuwait the same way we came up.


More than likely there was hundreds captured in Iraq. More than likely a large portion TCN.

The USGOV regards TCN workers as disposable.


Unfortunately, the US government does not feel a moral obligation to those people. Something I think we’re going to be paying off a huge karmic debt for, in years to come.

I’m not sure if the numbers match the ones we left behind in the highlands of Vietnam, though, among the Montagnards and other tribes. Or, the Karen from as far back as WWII…

Basically, the assholes we have making policy for the US government feel no obligation whatsoever towards all those “little brown people” we’ve asked to fight for us, and who have. The total numbers of betrayed are probably high enough to turn your stomach, and the latest ones are all the translators and other such folk who’ve been working for us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our government is horrible about this shit, and I’d love to hold all the Foggy Bottom types in the State Department and Pentagon responsible. But, that’s just one of the many things that should happen, and which won’t… Ever.

Alan Ward

But, but Ivies aren’t responsible because some other people can’t get ” THE BIG PICTURE”

That’s just the price for trusting inbred effete snobs.


Is there any public sources that cite a payment for the 3 hostages in Iraq?