Eyes filled with tears, Janet said in a sad voice, “This picture was taken a month before she was captured. We were attending a concert and she insisted that we take a group photo. She looked stunning that night.” Mary’s family is from the area of Tal Shamiram, in the southwest neighborhood of Tell Tamer, in Hasaka city, where she was captured along with 234 others, including her parents, by IS militants. The abduction followed a major IS offensive on Assyrian villages at dawn on Feb. 23, 2015. On Nov. 7, 2015, IS freed 37 Christians, including Immanuel, after nine months of detention. He told Al-Monitor that prior to his release, he “asked IS officials about my wife and Mary, but to no avail.” He contented himself with believing that they would soon be freed as well.
On Dec. 25, 2015, IS released another 25 Assyrians, mostly women and children. Janet was among them. She said, “They called my name, but Mary’s name was not among those who would be released. I passed out. Later on, I insisted on staying there with her until we were both freed.” But IS did not grant her request and said that Mary and the other detainees will be released once a deal is concluded. Janet said that IS is still holding seven Assyrians, including her daughter, and asking for a higher ransom for them. She said, “When I was held by IS, the militants used to tell us that we would be freed once our relatives pay the ransom.”
The BBC Arabic site quoted Talia Younan of the Assyrian Democratic Organization as telling the Associated Press Feb. 22 that the release came after mediation led by an unnamed senior Assyrian priest. Younan reported that IS demanded “a ransom of $18 million for the Assyrian Christians, and that the figure was later lowered following negotiations.” No one knows the final figure paid to IS. Janet is afraid that Mary might be raped or forced to marry during her detention. She said, “This has caused Mary extreme panic attacks and continuous treatment at the hospital.” She went on, “She is by herself now, and I wonder how she is doing without me by her side.” Immanuel said they know nothing about their captured daughter, who has been kept prisoner for a year and one month now. (Read more.)Share