5 Aug 2012

Well-known Syrian TV presenter kidnapped, executed

2:18 pm on 5 August 2012

A well-known Syrian television presenter who was kidnapped from his Damascus home in mid-July is reported to have been executed.

A little-known Islamist group called the al-Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for the execution of Mohammed al-Saeed.

In a statement, al-Nusra says the death is a lesson to all those who support the regime.

"The heroes of western Ghouta (in Damascus province) imprisoned the shabih (pro-regime militia) presenter on July 19," al-Nusra says. "He was then killed after he had been interrogated."

Posted on a forum featuring the al-Qaeda flag, the statement is accompanied by a photograph of Mr Saeed looking frightened, with his back against a wall in an unknown location.

Contacted by the news agency AFP, state TV director Maan Saleh said: "We have no material proof of this killing."

The BBC reports that like other jihadist groups operating in Syria al-Nusra (full name: Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham, or Front for the Protection of the Syrian People) invariably kills its hostages without demanding ransom.

Meanwhile, Iranian state media are reporting that 48 Iranians have been kidnapped while on a pilgrimage in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The pilgrims were reportedly seized by "armed groups" on the Damascus airport road as they returned from a religious shrine.

Syrian state television has since given the same account of the incident.