Video of an Israeli woman missing for months aired on Iraqi television, featuring a supposed confession to undercover disruption connected with Mossad and the CIA.
In March 2023, Princeton University doctoral candidate Elizabeth Tsurkov, a dual Israeli-Russian citizen, was said to have gone missing in Baghdad while conducting research for her dissertation. Monday, a proof of life video was aired on Iraq’s Al Rabiaa network where she asserted she had been on a clandestine mission for the Israeli and American agencies to establish connections with the U.S.-backed group Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Translations of her messages delivered in Hebrew circulated online and featured her stating at an unknown time from an undisclosed location, “I am an Israeli citizen. I worked for the Mossad and CIA. I worked in Syria in order to establish relations between Israel and the Syrian Democratic Forces.”
“I worked in Iraq on the disunity issue to strengthen disputes by coordinating protests in Iraq,” she continued adding, “we worked on fueling tensions in order to facilitate inter-Shia clashes inside Iraq.”
Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov, kidnapped in Iraq 7 months ago, says she was a Mossad operative tasked to establish ties with the SDF in Syria, and to sow intra-Shia strife in Iraq. pic.twitter.com/jIMGsCv55h
— Iran Observer (@IranObserver0) November 14, 2023
According to the Associated Press, earlier in 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had expressed the belief that Tsurkov had been kidnapped in Iraq and that she was being held by the Iranian-back militia Kataeb Hezbollah.
Over the summer, the prime minister had specifically stated, “We hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.”
Due to the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and Iraq, it had been reported that she used her Russian passport to enter the country.
Other excerpts from the video suggested that the recording had been made at least within the past few weeks as she specifically called out Israel’s counteroffensive following the Oct. 7 terror attacks from Hamas.
“I ask the families of the hostages in Gaza to constantly make efforts to stop the war on Gaza,” Tsurkov stated, potentially under coercion from her captors. “This war that is being stupidly run by Netanyahu through his wife, Sara, and his son, Yair, will lead to the hostages being killed. If you want your sons and daughters to return alive, the war must stop.”
AP News reported that the 37-year-old student’s family provided a statement in reaction to the video through a spokesperson. “It is encouraging to see this proof of life video, that was clearly filmed in recent weeks. While we can’t comment on what Elizabeth is saying, we appreciate that this is an important step in the process to bring her home to her family.”
In closing the video, the fellow with the New Lines Institute for Strategy spoke to her family as she expressed, “I am in a difficult spot.”
“To my family, to my mother and father, Rina, Arkady, Emma, Avital, David, my friends, I call on them to work to secure my release as soon as possible so I can return to them,” said Tsurkov.”
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