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Terrorist organization holding missing Princeton University doctoral student in Iraq

Elizabeth Tsurkov, who was reported missing in March, was in Iraq conducting doctorate and academic research

A Princeton University doctoral student who has been reported missing since March has been discovered to be alive and is being held by an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq, according to published reports.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Elizabeth Tsurkov, who holds dual Israeli-Russian passports, was in Iraq conducting work on her doctorate and academic research on behalf of Princeton University, according to the Associated Press.

She is being held by the Shiite group Kataeb Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades, which is an Iran-backed group that the U.S. government listed as a terrorist organization in 2009, the Associated Press said.

Netanyahu’s office said Israel is holding Iraq responsible for Tsurkov’s safety and well-being, according to the Associated Press.

Tsurkov was visiting Iraq on her Russian passport, the Associated Press said. Her work is focused on the Middle East. She is a fellow at the Washington-based think tank New Lines Institute, the Associated Press report said.

The New Lines Institute is a non-partisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., that works to enhance U.S. foreign policy based on a deep understanding of the geopolitics of different regions across the world and their value systems, according to www.newlinesinsitute.org.

Colleagues at New Lines Institute were in touch with her a few days before she was allegedly kidnapped, the Associated Press said. They were notified of her disappearance March 29.

Hassan Hassan, the editor-in-chief of New Lines Magazine, said the think tank had contacted American and foreign officials – including Princeton University – for help, the Associated Press said.

Although Tsurkov is not an American citizen, the United States government also has been asked to become involved in obtaining her release, the Associated Press said.

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