Many foreigners among Iraq hostages

While thousands of Iraqis have been regularly abducted, mostly for ransom, and their fates sometimes resolved and sometimes not, the coverage of foreign hostages in Iraq has recieved far wider media publicity.

US journalist Jill Carrol is among the many foreign hostages
US journalist Jill Carrol is among the many foreign hostages

The latest on the many foreigners held or missing comes with news of the fate of Tom Fox, 54, a US peace activist who had been kidnapped along with three colleagues in November.

He was found shot dead on 11 March 2006 in a Baghdad rubbish dump, security officials reported.

According to one US diplomat in Baghdad, at least 430 foreigners are known to have been taken hostage in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.

The following is a list of foreign hostages who have been reported kidnapped in Iraq and whose fates remain unknown:


Brazilian construction company Norberto Odebrecht said in  January 2005 that one of its employees, Joao Jose Vasconcellos, was kidnapped in northern Iraq near the oil refinery town of Baiji.


Norman Kember, 74, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, was kidnapped in Baghdad on 26 November 2005 by an armed group called the Brigades of the Swords of Righteousness.


James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, also members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, were kidnapped with Kember in Baghdad on 26 November 2005.

Iraqi-born Rifaat Muhammad Rifaat, 41, who worked for a Saudi company renovating Abu Ghraib prison, has been missing since 8 April 2005.


US peace activist Tom Fox’s body was found in Baghdad

US peace activist Tom Fox’s body
was found in Baghdad

Two men identifying themselves as Nabil Tawfiq Sulayman and  Mitwalli Muhammad Salim, engineers for the Egyptian firm Unitrak, appeared in a videotape posted on the internet in March 2005.

Abd al-Khaliq Ahmad was kidnapped by armed men on 13 January 2005 in the northern oil centre of Kirkuk, according to Iraqi police.


Two German engineers were kidnapped on 24 January by men  posing as soldiers outside a oil refinery in the northern town of Baiji.


Four Iranians were seized near Balad on 28 November 2005. A  group called the Saad bin Abi Waqas Brigades claimed responsibility in a video broadcast by Al-Arabiya in December.


The Al-Bara bin Malek Jihad Brigades released video footage,  aired by Aljazeera television on 6 May 2005, of six employees of Jordanian firm Abu Jaafar al-Mansur it said it had abducted for working for the US military.

Businessman Samir Rajab al-Suqi, manager of the Amman branch of Kuwait’s Midas furniture company, was kidnapped for ransom in Baghdad last April, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said.

Abd al-Qadir Hikmat al-Azhari was taken captive in November  2004 by unidentified abductors demanding a $500,000  ransom, according to his family.

Truck driver Mahmud Ismail Zaidan was reported kidnapped near Falluja in mid-October 2004.


Two Kenyan telecommunications engineers Moses Munyau and George Noballa, were kidnapped in Iraq on 18 January. Their three-car convoy was ambushed in a Baghdad road tunnel on their way to  the western suburb of Abu Ghraib to repair a transmitter station.


At least three Lebanese are still missing: Joseph Eid, Hachem  Georges Francis and Samir Abisaad.


Two Macedonians employed by a contractor working for  US-led forces were abducted on 16 February near the southern city of Basra.


Hostage taking has become common in Iraq

Hostage taking has become
common in Iraq

Two employees of the Moroccan embassy, Abd al-Rahim Bualam and Abd al-Karim al-Muhafidi, were kidnapped on 20 October, 2005 by al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq.


Aljazeera reported at the end of July 2004 that truck driver Ali Ahmad Mussa had been kidnapped.

An unnamed Somali lorry driver was reported kidnapped in  northern Iraq on 30 October 2004.


Truck driver Awad Muhammad was taken captive on 14 August 2004 near Kirkuk.


Turks, driving convoys of supplies across Iraq to US army  bases, are an easy target for kidnappers. Several remain captive and at least one has been killed.

Contractors have also been targeted, among them Ali Abd Allah Ali, who is being held by an armed group, according to a video broadcast last June by Aljazeera.

Last July, an engineer working at an electricity station in Baiji was abducted.


Jill Carroll, a 28-year-old freelance journalist on assignment for the Christian Science Monitor, was abducted on 7 January. She has since appeared in three videos broadcast on Arab  television. The latest deadline set by her captors passed in late February with no word on her fate.

The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed in a video on 8 December  2005 it had killed US contractor Ronald Schulz after announcing his kidnap two days earlier. Washington has not confirmed his death.

Businessman Jeffrey Ake, 47, a contractor for the US military  from Rolling Prairie, Indiana, appeared in a hostage video broadcast on 13 April 2005.

Lebanese-American Sadek Mohammed Sadek, working for the Iraqi Transport Ministry, was kidnapped from his Baghdad home in November 2004, and images of him were broadcast on Aljazeera on 12 November.

A soldier, Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin, 20, went  missing in an attack on a convoy near Baghdad on 9 April 2004. A video later purported to show his “execution” but Washington says the film is “inconclusive”.

Timothy Bell and William Bradley, employees of the Halliburton firm and its oil subsidiary, KBR, went missing after the same attack. On 6 January 2005, Halliburton said Bradley’s remains had been found near Baghdad.

A US diplomat in Baghdad said on 11 March that seven other  Americans were also still being held after Fox’s murder, but gave no details beyond saying they included Iraqi-Americans.

Source : AFP

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