Editor of pro-Israel Kurdish magazine vanishes in Iraq

Mawlud Afand’s co-workers suspect he was kidnapped by Iran

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

The editor of a pro-Israel magazine from Iraqi Kurdistan went missing 11 days ago and his peers suspect he was kidnapped by Iran.

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Mawlud Afand, who was born in Iran, has lived in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq for several years. His paper, Israel-Kurd, promotes closer relations between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Jewish State.

Diyari Mohammed, a writer for Israel-Kurd, told AFP that Afand went missing June 8 after leaving for an appointment in Sulaymaniyah alone.

“He called in the afternoon the next day and told us that he was on a private visit and would return back after a week,” he said.

A woman who spoke Persian answered Afand’s phone on June 13, but it had been switched off since then, Mohammed said, adding that Afand’s colleagues had raised the possibility that he had been kidnapped by Iranian intelligence.

The magazine’s publisher, Dawod Baghestani, told the Point of No Return blog that he suspected that Sherzad Omar, an Iranian intelligence agent in Iraqi Kurdistan, had drugged Anfand, kidnapped him, and taken him across the Iranian border to Kermanshah. Baghestani said he had tried to contact Afand on his cell phone, but it was constantly busy.

“We fear the worst and we urge the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s authorities to do everything possible to find Mouloud Afand,” Reporters Without Borders said. “And we therefore call for an immediate investigation into this journalist’s disappearance.”

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