Thirteen years ago, on March 9, 2007, Robert A. “Bob” Levinson was abducted on Kish Island, Iran. According to the FBI, he is the longest-held hostage in U.S. history.
Mr. Levinson turns 72 years old today, on March 10. The FBI site states that "he served his country for 28 years, including 22 years as an FBI special agent."
During the past 13 years, the FBI writes, the only credible evidence of responsibility in Mr. Levinson’s disappearance has pointed to those working for the government of Iran.
"Bob’s wife and family have been waiting for his return for 13 years, waiting for the government of Iran to make good on its commitment to help make that happen," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Over those years Bob’s FBI family of agents, analysts, and professional staff have been working on his behalf with our interagency partners and will never cease the efforts to bring Bob home. We call on Iran to provide the necessary assistance and end this long wait so Bob’s family and friends get him back."
Last year, the Department of State Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program announced a reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Bob Levinson.( More information about this reward is located on the RFJ website) In addition to the Department of State Rewards for Justice reward, an FBI reward of $5 million remains unclaimed.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed Bob Levinson's disappearance in a White House press release on March 9, saying:
"For 13 years, the Iranian government has denied knowledge of his whereabouts or condition, a claim that defies credibility.
"Mr. Levinson’s family, including grandchildren he has never met, has borne an unimaginable burden of uncertainty and hardship throughout this time. Iran must honor the commitment it has made to work with the United States for Mr. Levinson’s return. International norms, respect for human rights, and basic human decency demand no less.
"Returning all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad is President Trump’s top priority. We will work until Bob Levinson and all U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees come home."
Israel, according to the IDF, has 176 soldiers missing in action, many of whom are missing since 1948, with the most famous of them IAF pilot Ron Arad, mssing since 1986, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, both missing since 1982's Lebanon War. Zechariah Baumel, also missing since 1982, was buried in Israel after his remains were returned,through Russian-Israeli cooperation.
Not considered missing in action because they are officially declared dead by the IDF, are Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul,.abducted by Hamas on August 1, 2014 while fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Israel and the boys' parents have tried unceasingly to get Hamas to return their remains for Jewish burial.
Two Israeli civilians are also held in Gaza. Both are mentally unstable and wandered across the border in separate incidents. Avraham Mengistu, of Ashkelon, crossed into Gaza on September 7, 2014. Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin from the Negev town of al-Hura, entered Gaza on April 20, 2015. Israel seeks their return and holds Hamas responsible for their fate.