November 20, 2006

Terrorists with Ties to Iran Claim Western Hostage Taking (UPDATED: BUMPED AGAIN)

mujahidin_battalion_hostages.jpgThe state run Iranian Arabic language TV station, al-Alalam, has broadcast a video from a terrorist group which claimed the abduction of four American and an Austrian.

Some media reprts indicate that "The Islamic Mujahedeen Battalion" was trained in Iran. The fact that the video was broadcast on Iranian TV indicates that that there is at least some connection. However, unlike most hostage videos released by terror organizations in the past, this one did not actually show the hostages.

The US and Iraq has consistently levelled accusations that the Iranian government funds, trains, and encourages acts of terror in Iraq.

Local Iraqi sources indicate that one of the hostages, an Austrian, is dead. One American is also thought to have been freed, say locals in Basra. But there are still conflicting reports over this and no official confirmation. Officials in Baghdad say that the locals are mistaken and that all five hostages are still missing, presumed alive.

From al-Alam's English language website:

A previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for abducting a private security team of four Americans and an Austrian in southern Iraq.

The group, called Islamic Companies [trans: Islamic Mujahidin Battalion], claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

The group released a videotaped message saying that it was holding the five men.

An unidentified man whose face was covered with a checkered Arabic head dress read a statement in which he demanded the withdrawal of US forces and the release of all prisoners in Iraq.

CNN reports that the video was not audible during the broadcast:
During al-Alam's broadcast, the man's voice was inaudible and the station's presenter said the video was from the group that claimed to have kidnapped the contractors and killed four other Americans.
paul_reuben-hostage-iraq.jpgOnly the name of one of the Western hostages has been released to the public. he is Paul Reuben of Minnesota.

WaPo reports on the 39 year old Paul Reuben:

One of the four U.S. contractors abducted by insurgents in southern Iraq is a former suburban police officer described by friends and family as an "easygoing, fun-loving type of guy" who was ready to come home.

"He had that classic teddy bear disposition that made people like and care about him," St. Louis Park Police Chief John D. Luse said of Paul Reuben, who has been working as a private security contractor in Iraq....

Their mother said Friday that she hopes the men holding her son "remember their own mothers."

"I want them to think what it's like for a mother to want her son back," Johnnie Mae Reuben told The Associated Press. "I want my son back."

I wonder if CNN's Miles O'Brien will tell Mrs. Reuben that her son is just a "mercinary"?

Update by Vinnie: Via Cheese eating surrender monkey Press, Iraqis claim to be closing in on the whereabouts of the hostages.

"We have identified the area where they are held. I can't disclose the place," Mohammed Ali al-Mussawi, chief of operations at police headquarters in the southern city of Basra, told AFP.

Previously: Four Americans Kidnapped in Iraq, Austrian Civilian Killed

Update: by Howie. Rusty asks that we keep up on this story. Good news that we and the Iraqi police are working this hard. Bad news is they have not been found. Has anyone looked in Iran? It seems to me if an Iranian supported group took these men they might try and take them into Iran for safety. iran should look into this. The return of these men could generate some goodwill from the US that Iran amy find to its advantage.

International Herald Tribune: BASRA, Iraq: British and Iraqi forces raided homes in southern Iraq on Monday and arrested four suspects in the kidnapping of four American security guards and their Austrian co-worker, an official said.

The raid, which began late Sunday and ended early Monday morning, took place in Zubair, a mostly Sunni-Arab enclave about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Basra, Capt. Tane Dunlop, the British military spokesman, told The Associated Press. Most of Britain's 7,200 soldiers in Iraq are based in the city.

On Sunday, Iraqi police showed the media 200 suspected insurgents they had arrested the night before while raiding several areas north of Basra, which is 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

Both raids failed to find any of the hostages in southern Iraq, a mostly Shiite region.

The four American security guards and their Austrian co-worker have been missing since Thursday when a large convoy of trucks being escorted by their Crescent Security Group company was hijacked on a highway near Safwan, a largely Sunni Arab city of 200,000 people on the Kuwait border.

Another update by Vinnie: From the "it's an older code, but it still checks out, m'lord" files... Group that took the hostages linked to Mookie.

UPDATE 11/21: Second American hostage identified as 23 year old Jonathon Cote. Hat tip: No Burqua

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:52 PM | Comments |