NABLUS, West Bank – A Palestinian man who briefly kidnapped three American women will not be prosecuted because he released the hostages quickly and is cooperating with authorities, a local official said Wednesday.
The women were snatched Tuesday, during a visit to the West Bank city of Nablus and were released unharmed and in good condition after four hours. The man who held them, 26-year-old Hadi Saud, had demanded a job in the local security forces and treatment for a leg injury.
Nablus district governor Kamal Sheikh, who negotiated with the kidnapper, said Saud would not be prosecuted and is receiving medical treatment as part of the deal. "He wasn't arrested because he decided himself to let them go and he was cooperative," Sheikh said.
Scores of foreigners have been kidnapped in the West Bank and Gaza in recent years, often by gunmen pressing for jobs or other benefits. Most hostages are released quickly, often after the authorities meet the kidnappers' demands. As a rule, kidnappers are not prosecuted.
Two of the women snatched Tuesday, Janet Miller, 26, and Gillian Rose, 26, were visiting the West Bank and planned to return to the U.S. in coming days, said a Palestinian friend, Haya Abu Assad.
The third woman, who would only give her first name and age, Susan, 27, planned to stay in the West Bank, Abu Assad said. Susan is a university student working on a water study, said officials in the Palestine Hydrology Group, an organization that tries to solve water problems in the West Bank and Gaza.
The women would not say where they live in the U.S. and on Wednesday declined interview requests. Palestinian colleagues said they came from the Washington, D.C. area.
Abu Assad said the three women were picked up by a taxi driver in downtown Nablus. The driver, serving as an accomplice, then stopped to pick up the kidnapper and the taxi went off the main road, Abu Assad said.
"One of the girls tried to open the door while the car was moving. He (the kidnapper) raised his Kalashnikov rifle and asked her to close the door," she said. "The girls were terrified at that moment."
He said the kidnappers took the women to a house, where they were served coffee and tea before their release. There were no plans to punish the cab driver, police said.