May 09, 2005

Army of Ansar al-Sunnah Takes Japanese Hostage

UPDATE 5/28/05: The Army of Ansar al-Sunnah has posted a video and images of Saito Akihiko's dead body. Apparently, Mr. Saito was killed in the initial battle.

News, links to the video and Ansar al-Sunnah website, and images from the video may be FOUND IN THIS UPDATED POST HERE.

If you are looking for the latest information about hostages and terrorists in Iraq, please GO TO THE MAIN PAGE HERE.

Begin original post:

The Army of Ansar al-Sunnah claims to have taken a Japanese man hostage. The man, Akihiko Saito, is alleged by the al Qaeda linked group to have been taken from a convoy 'during a fierce battle in Western Iraq,' in what might be a reference to earlier reports of a successful U.S. attack near the Syrian border. The group also posted a photo of Akikiko Saito's passport and promised more photos would be forthcoming.


Iraqi militants claimed today they took a Japanese security contractor hostage after ambushing a convoy of foreigners and Iraqi troops in western Iraq.

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army identified the Japanese hostage as Akihito Saito, 44, and posted a photocopy of his passport, including his picture, on the group’s official website. It said Saito was “severely injured” in the fight.

The report could not be independently confirmed. Junji Gomakudo, First Secretary at the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad, said officials were trying to confirm a report of a kidnapped Japanese citizen but said they did not know if the claim was true.

The group posted other photo ID cards allegedly belonging to Saito, with one identifying him as a security manager of Hart GMSSCO, a British-based firm that provides security in Iraq. Another document seemed to be a weapons permit....

Japan’s Kyodo News agency said Saito was employed by a security firm from Cyprus and may have been working as a security officer at a US facility.

The group said Saito was seized after Ansar al-Sunnah fighters ambushed a convoy of five foreign contractors, protected by 12 members of the Iraqi security forces. It claimed all of them were killed in the fight except for the Japanese. It said some of the foreigners were intelligence agents.

The Army of Ansar al-Sunna routinely claims every one they capture is an 'intelligence agent' or works for the 'CIA'.

If Akihiko Saito is still alive, he won't be for long. His life only serves the propaganda purposes of Ansar al-Sunna. The group just released the videotaped murder of a dozen or so Sudanese worders last week.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq (formerly known as Tawhid and Jihad) murdered Shosei Koda last year in a gruesome beheading video. Ansar al-Sunna has close ties to Zarqawi and often collaborates with him.

UPDATE: Screen shot and more photos from Ansar al-Sunna website below along with more photos and announcement. (Thank to Vlad and Polish Expert for links)


Others: John Little, Chad at In The Bullpen

The Army of al-Sunna website is here, but will probably be down within the day. For archiving purposes, here is the announcement released with the photos. An alternate site is being hosted by Tripod. I've already filed a complaint with Lycos about that last one.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:48 PM | Comments |