April 13, 2005

Hostage Video: American Jeffrey Ake urges US to Leave Iraq (UPDATED)

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A video of an American civilian contractor taken hostage in Baghdad on April 10th has been aired by Al Jazeera television. The victim's name is Jeffrey Ake.

Our earlier report on Jeffrey Ake is here. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad now confirms Mr. Ake's identity. As with Roy Hallums, the State Department did not confirm his identity until after a video tape was released.

Links to video will be posted here as soon as they are available.....

Al Jazeera reports:

The tape on Wednesday showed a man sitting behind a wooden desk as three men pointed their guns towards him.

He was holding what looked like a passport and a photo identification.

Al Jazeera did not release audio of the tape. The network has come under increasing fire for its airing of hostage videos produced as propaganda.

SMH reports:

The hostage, who was shown surrounded by gunmen, called on the US administration to "open a dialogue with the Iraqi resistance" and strive to save his life, Al-Jazeera said.

He also urged US forces to promptly pull out of Iraq.

The demand is standard for these types of videos. However, what is new is the demand for dialogue between the U.S. and insurgents.

Could this be a further sign of the weakening of the insurgency?

Since there was no money demand mentioned, it also is very unlikely that those responsible for this kidnapping are financial opportunists. However, part of the deleted audio may have made a ransom demand.

Further, this is not the M.O. of the usual terrorist suspects. While I cannot say for certain, the video does not appear to show the banners of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq, The Army of Ansar al-Sunna, or The Islamic Army of Iraq.

Hat tip to James Joyner who e-mailed me about this while I was in class. He's also all over this one.

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UPDATE 12:09: More information on Jeffrey Ake. According to WISHTV, Ake is from Northern Indiana. He is the President of a Rolling Prairie, IN, based water company, Equipment Express.

According to a local news article dated November 19, 2003, and reprinted at Equipment Express' website:

Equipment Express is again helping with the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

A Western European country that company president Jeff Ake couldn't identify because of contractual reasons hired the Rolling Prairie company to construct an integrated system that will provide water bottles to be sold in Baghdad.

A second system for Iraq will be built in January.
Equipment Express began construction on the system Nov. 3, completed the work Tuesday and will ship it out today. It should arrive in Baghdad around Christmas.

"We're called Equipment Express because we are fast. It's exciting to be part of the rebuilding effort," Ake said.

From another article on their website:
Equipment Express constructed "An integrated system that provided water bottles to be sold in Baghdad ... they have also constructed a machine that fills edible oil into containers to be used by Iraqi residents," according to information on the company Web site.
And one more:
A fast growing Rolling Prairie company will be helping the humanitarian effort in Iraq.

A manufacturer Friday asked Equipment Express, 4744 E. Oak Knoll Rd., if it could construct as quickly as possible a machine that will fill edible oil into containers to be used for the millions of recently liberated Iraqi people....

Not everyone will drop what they're doing to manufacture the machine, but "there's a fair amount of effort being put into it. There will be some overtime."

Much of the Middle East needs the edible oil because it's used in so much of the people's cooking.

"It's extremely important to that culture, to cook almost anything. If they have grain, clean water and oil, they are able to feed themselves."

This isn't the first time Equipment Express handiwork has benefited the Middle East. Water treatment systems that include bottling, rinsing, filling and labeling capacities were built here and are being used in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Once again insurgents capture a man in Iraq attempting to improve the standard of living in that country....

UPDATE 12:45: It appears that Jeffrey Ake was also a nationally recognized export specialist. His name appears frequently as a convention speaker on the subject.

UPDATE 12:50: White House chimes in....KHNL

White House press secretary Scott McClellan describes the situation as very "sensitive," adding that the administration is in touch with the family of the missing contract worker.

But he says U-S policy calls for no negotiations with kidnappers.

What is it a video that is so powerful? Ake has been missing since Sunday, and we have been reporting it since Monday, yet no widespread media coverage.

Another American was just kidnapped in Iraq. His name is Mohammed Monaf. No video, no coverage. It's sad.

Or what about the other American hostages being held? Roy Hallums, Dean Sadek, Tim Bell, and Bill Bradley? Or of the missing Army Spc. Keith Maupin?

Developing........

Others: Mike King, Chad Evans, Secure Liberty, Rooftop Report

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:31 AM | Comments |