A high-level source in the Palestinian intelligence today revealed the details of the security operation which contributed to the release of the two kidnapped Swedish monks, who were held hostages by armed groups in Syria.
The source said that this operation came under the title of “Giving back to the Kingdom of Sweden” for taking supportive stands in favor of the Palestinian people, topped by the Swedish recognition of Palestinian state.
The two Swedish monks were kidnapped in Syria on 12.03.2013. The Palestinian ambassador in Sweden, Hala Fareez said that Jabhat Al-Nusra armed group which affiliates to AL Qaida, was the kidnapper of the two monks.
The process required and confirmed a high level of secrecy for it to succeed and not be sabotaged by outer bodies. However, Jordanian intelligence met with Palestinian official several times, and served the case majorly. They provided logistics and highly contributed to the case. However, they preferred to remain unidentified.
The source revealed details of the operation saying that it had been opened during the visit of President Mahmoud Abbas to Sweden earlier this year, where he put forward the matter of the Swedish hostages who have been kidnapped since 2013 without any clues reported about them.
Source added that president Abbas has commissioned intelligence, and sent a delegation to Sweden to begin discussions with their Swede counterparts.
The work began under the title of “giving back,” and moved around in several Arab capitals to contact the militants and the kidnappers, to finally find out that the hostages were alive.
On April 2nd 2015, the Swedish government demanded proof that the hostages were alive . The intelligence were able to obtain recorded films showing that hostages give credits to the Palestinian role in their case. It started last Thursday, two crisis cells were formed; Palestinian, lead by president Mahmoud Abbas, and another Swedish cell.
The process officially started last Thursday, 23 April, when the commissioned groups entered Syria through Jordan, then on Friday approached an agreed area, accompanied by the Jordan intelligence and border guards.
“The Palestinian intelligence officers entered about 500 meters into Syria and it was a huge risk taken by them. This contributed to convincing the kidnappers hand the hostages. Also, the Palestinian intelligence convinced the kidnappers to hand the hostages because Palestine wanted to thank Sweden, and it will bring more peace to the conditions in the Middle East,” the source said.
The two hostages were transported by a car accompanied with Palestinian officers into Jordan.
He assured that they were in a good health, but suffered bad humanitarian conditions and were happy to finally be out of it. They were taken to the Swedish embassy in Jordan where a Swedish delegation awaited them. On Saturday, they were reunited with their families.
“It did not take either one bullet, or a blood drop, or any money to release the hostages. However, it was a very complicated and stressful process.” The official said. He added that the kidnappers were “honest” in their treatment with them, giving no further explanation.
Thomas Olson (50 years) and Martin Rein (33) on Saturday arrived to Sweden. The Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström thanked Palestine and Jordan for their help in retaining the hostages safe and sound. She gave special thanks to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who had a determined role, and the Jordanian authorites as well.
The Swedish spokesperson refused to give any details on the operation. However, he mentioned that the release did not require any payments.