October 28, 2004
Terrorists Take Polish (possibly Polish-American) Woman Hostage in Iraq (UPDATED)
Al-Jazeera, the virulently anti-American Arabic satelite network, has broadcast a video of a previously unknown terrorist group holding a Polish woman hostage in Iraq. The group, calling itself the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Fundamentalist Brigades, says that she will not be released until two demands are met. Al-Jazeera denies that the group has threatened to kill her but has not yet released the entire video.
First, the group demanded that all female Iraqi prisoners be released. The Coalition, though, has consistently denied holding more than two women since that demand was first made by The Army of Ansar al-Zawahiri, a group that had kidnapped the now released Italian aid worders Simona Pari and Simona Torretta.
The second demand by the group was that Poland withdraw it's troops from Iraq. According to Middle East Online news service Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski has said "The Polish government is not in the business of meeting kidnappers' demand."
The name of the woman is not yet known, but Polish commanders on the ground say she was not attached to any of Poland's military units in any civilian or other capacity. Polish officials also say that the woman may be a US citizen of Polish ancestry.
The AP reports that a spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry believes that "the woman was a longtime Iraq resident with Iraqi citizenship and was believed to have been abducted Wednesday night from her home in Baghdad. Abdul Rahman did not release her name."
Polish media reports that the woman was a long-time resident of Baghdad and may have lived across the street from the Palestine hotel. The BBC reports that the woman had worked for the Polish embassy for about a year in the 1990s.
The woman has now been identified as Teresa Borcz-Kalifa. Like kidnapped director of the Care International, Margaret Hassan, this victim was a long-time resident of Baghdad and married to an Iraqi national.
Care International announced today that it would suspend all operations in Iraq. In a simple message to Margarat Hassan's kidnappers, the Care UK website posted the following statement
CARE has closed down all operations in Iraq. Please release Mrs. Hassan to her family and friends in Iraq.As reported here yesterday, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the group formerly knows as Tawhid wal Jihad and now renamed 'Al-Qaida's Committee in Mesopotamia', has also released a videotape of a Japanese hostage. Zarqawi has threatened to behead 24 year old Japanese civilian Akio Koda within the next 24 hours if Japan's small contingent of non-combat engineering troops are not pulled out.
In other hostage developments, a new tape released by the Army of Ansar al-Islam shows the murder of eleven Iraqi National Guardsman [more info here]. In the tape, ten of the victims are shot while the video shows the gruesome beheading of one of the victims.