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The Islamic State Offers Opportunity to Buy Chinese and Norwegian Hostages

The Islamic State's latest issue of its online magazine advertises two hostages, one Chinese and one Norwegian, who are up for sale.

Islamic State Parade

The Islamic State claims to be holding Chinese and Norwegian hostages, photos of whom were published online Wednesday in the extremist group’s magazine, Dabiq.

The two men, identified by Dabiq as Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad and Fan Jinghui, are advertised as being “for sale,” with photos and descriptions taking up a full page each in the PDF version of magazine, which was made available through Site Intelligence Group.

The magazine claims Grimsgaard-Ofstad is a candidate for a master’s degree in political science, and Fan Jinghui is a freelance consultant.

Set against a black backdrop, each prisoner is shown wearing a yellow jumpsuit with their name and an identification number pinned to their chests.

Both ads provide the men’s home addresses and other personal information. They claim the men were “abandoned” by their governments, “which did not do [their] utmost to purchase [their] freedom.”

It was not immediately clear Wednesday how the two hostages fell into the hands of the Islamic State, and SITE did not provide any details. It was also not clear how much the extremist group expected to be paid before it would agree to release the hostages.

The Islamic State has made a habit of advertising the Western hostages they capture and has previously released gruesome videos documenting their executions, including those of American journalists and aid workers. In February, the group released a video of a young Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage. That same month, the group reportedly killed three of its own Chinese militants who attempted to defect.

But the magazine claims that in the case of these two prisoners, their freedom is still very much for sale, suggesting “whoever would like to pay the ransom for his release and transfer” can contact the provided telegram number.

Then, using tasteless and ominous snarkiness hinting the prisoners will otherwise be executed, the advertisements remind the reader of what could be the two men’s fates with a post-script note: “This is a limited time offer.”

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Photo credit: Dabiq Magazine via Site Intelligence/AP

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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