A Swiss humanitarian aid worker in Syria is facing death threats coming from ISIS-associated Twitter accounts after tweeting the location of a bunker seized by Islamic State near the Turkey-Syria border.
Oscar Bergamin, president of the small humanitarian aid group called Ash-Sham Care, tweeted the coordinates of an ISIS-controlled bunker in the Syrian town of Jarabalus. Bergamin told BBC in a radio interview on Wednesday that he sent the tweet out of frustration because ISIS' control of the bunker enables militants to block aid workers from accessing the estimated 18,000 refugees in the town.
Although Bergamin said he sent the tweet semi-jokingly because the bunker can be seen from Turkey, he did say he sent a tweet asking U.S. and coalition forces to "blow it up." One of the guiding principles of the International Red Cross is for aid workers to remain neutral when it comes to war and conflicts.
"I see this ISIS bunker with the black flag on the top and I know that behind in the village are five refugee camps, which we can not reach. So, in a moment of cynicism and frustration, I send this tweet: 'just blow it up,'" Bergamin said.
Despite the fact that the bunker is "no secret," ISIS militants were not happy about the disclosure. Tweets from ISIS-related Twitter accounts directly threatened Bergamin's life in calling for his kidnapping and beheading. Other tweets accused him of being a spy. Bergamin said it would have been best if he did not post the tweet and has since returned to Turkey out of safety concerns.
"It probably would have been better if I didn't send [the tweet]," Bergamin said. "But I have learned from it that it was out of a moment of frustration of the ISIS terrorists out of frustration we faced last year when we were supplying warm meals to ten thousands of people in northern Syria in the winter. In January, there was a massacre and the borders were closed. We have not been able to enter these camps again since then and they are under ISIS."
One militant tweet claimed that they were "coming for Mr. Aid worker." Another tweet accused him of being just like the "reporter who used to give rebels coordinates to #Assad air-forces," while another tweet said "these paid agents are dangerous on everybody. They must be cleansed."
Bergamin had told the news site Mother Jones, that he staked-out and took photos of the bunker the day before posting his tweet.
Even though Bergamin made his Twitter account private and changed his profile picture to hide his identity, ISIS-associated tweets have since posted pictures of Bergamin's LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that included pictures of him to make him identifiable.
Bergamin has also received backlash from the humanitarian aid community as many aid workers view his actions as an endangerment to the rest of the aid community. Many have tweeted in criticism of Bergamin's tweet.
U.S. and international coalition forces are conducting airstrikes in Syria and Iraq to help eliminate ISIS from their strongholds and prevent the terrorist organization from capturing more territory. However, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, "the Vicar of Baghdad," claims that the airstrikes are actually just hurting civilians.
In an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, White said that the only way international forces are going be able to trump the militants is by bringing in ground troops because the soldiers in the Iraqi military are likely to run away when faced with having to stop an ISIS incursion that is reportedly closing in on Baghdad.
"No, not at all," White said when asked if airstrikes will keep Baghdad secure. "I have had people, our people, killed by the airstrikes. I don't know what is being achieved by them, but it is very, very little. The fact is, people like ISIS can only be controlled by troops on the ground. And where are they? We haven't got any."
White said the people of Baghdad are afraid.
"The reality is that we are in the most difficult period I have ever seen. I have been here for years but people are even too afraid to go out into the streets," White said. "The streets are almost empty and people are fearful of what is going to happen."