Thirty journalists—half of them foreign reporters, half of them Syrian—have been kidnapped or gone missing in Syria, the Associated Press reported this week. The number is unprecedented. Syria today is the scene of the single largest wave of kidnappings in modern journalism, more than in Iraq during the 2000s or Lebanon during the 1980s. A combination of criminality, jihadism and chaos is bringing on-the-ground coverage of the war to a halt.
In one of several alarming new trends that have emerged in Syria, jihadists are abducting reporters, holding them captive and making no demands for their release. Instead of requesting prisoner exchanges or ransoms, they hold journalists indefinitely as human bargaining chips for future use.