Reports: Ex-Iraq PM was aware of kidnapped Israeli’s frequent visits to Baghdad

Middle East Monitor  /  July 14, 2023

Former Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was “fully aware” of Israeli-Russian Elizabeth Tsurkov’s frequent visits to Iraq and had warned both Washington and Moscow that her Israeli citizenship and “work” is “a danger to her”, Israeli media reported.

According to the Israeli media, Tsurkov visited Iraq on numerous occasions from 2020 until she disappeared in March.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported that following Al-Kadhimi’s caution, Israeli officials personally warned her of the possible threats posed to her, including right before her last visit to Baghdad.

Last week, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Tsurkov was kidnapped in Iraq by the Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah, adding that Israel held Iraq “responsible for her fate and safety.”

According to an Iraqi intelligence source, Tsurkov was kidnapped in Baghdad on 23 March while leaving the Riyadh Alwan café in the Karrada neighbourhood, The New York Times reported.

However, the Israel Broadcasting Authority reported that an Iraqi official who was in contact with Tsurkov said that she had been kidnapped in her apartment in the Karrada neighbourhood.

Tsurkov, who performed military service in the Israeli army and speaks English, Hebrew, Russian and Arabic, has also worked for years with former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky, according to Israeli media.

In a statement to Israeli journalists last week, a government official said Tsurkov was alive and well and that the Israeli government was in contact with her family.

The official said Tsurkov was kidnapped because of her Israeli citizenship and denied Arab media reports that she was working for Israeli intelligence.

“She is definitely not a member of the Mossad,” he claimed.