Marine captured

June 29th, 2004  

Topic: Marine captured

IRAQ was thrown into a new hostage crisis last night after militants said they had kidnapped a United States marine, whom they would behead unless the coalition released Iraqi prisoners.

A videotape broadcast on the al-Jazeera television network showed a blindfolded man in military fatigues, and a hand holding a sword above his head. A US Marine Corps identity card named him as Wassef Ali Hassoun. Al-Jazeera said he was of Pakistani origin.

The militants claimed they had infiltrated a US marine outpost, lured the man outside and abducted him. Al-Jazeera said the group demanded the release of all Iraqis "in occupation jails".

The abductors identified themselves as "Islamic Response", the security wing of the "National Islamic Resistance - 1920 Revolution Brigades", referring to the uprising against the British after the First World War.

US military officials last night confirmed that a Marine was missing in Iraq.

Earlier yesterday, another Pakistani hostage was shown on another TV station. Four masked gunmen threatened to decapitate the man, who was carrying an identity card for the US contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root, if US troops did not release prisoners in several areas of central Iraq within three days.

It was unclear if either set of kidnappers was linked to the Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who claimed responsibility for the decapitation deaths of the American Nicholas Berg and the South Korean Kim Sun-il last week.

The kidnappings are the latest to target foreigners in Iraq in the run-up to Wednesday, when an interim Iraqi government is to take over from the US-led occupation authorities.

They came on the day NATO leaders met in the Turkish city of Istanbul to discuss a mission to train Iraq’s armed forces, and amid further reports that Saddam Hussein is due to be handed over to the Iraqi government within a fortnight.

Turkey is facing its own Iraq kidnap crisis after a tape was aired on al-Jazeera on Saturday allegedly from Zarqawi’s group in which it said it had kidnapped three Turks and threatened to decapitate them within 72 hours unless Turkish companies left Iraq.

The Turkish government yesterday refused to accede to the demands.

The new kidnappings threw into stark relief what was at stake as NATO leaders struggled to overcome their old divisions on Iraq, with France at loggerheads with other members over plans for the alliance to play a major role in training Iraq’s new armed forces.

Despite a public announcement of an agreement on the training mission, it was clear the 26 members of the alliance had very different views on where the training would be carried out, whether it would be under NATO auspices, and how many personnel would be involved.

At a formal dinner in an Ottoman-era palace on the banks of the Bosphorus last night, heads of state were keen to portray a united front.

NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said there was a "new momentum in transatlantic security co-operation". "Those US unilateralists who thought that the United States didn’t really need allies have come to realise that the US not only needs allies but also the alliance," he said.

The US president, George Bush, was clearly reading from the same script.

"We are going to work together to help make sure that NATO is configured militarily to meet the threats of the 21st century," Mr Bush said when he arrived in Istanbul.

But Germany and France scotched Washington’s original hope of NATO taking command of a peace force south of Baghdad. Even a request from the Iraqi government for help in training forces brought a day of tense alliance negotiations.

The differences centre on whether NATO should train Iraqi officers inside the country under an alliance flag, or limit its role to training outside Iraq and acting as a clearing house for national efforts. French officials said it would be a job for allies, not the alliance as a whole, and there would "no NATO flag" in Iraq.

"France will continue to make known its concerns and reservations with respect to a NATO role, as such," a French presidential spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said.
June 29th, 2004  
Italian Guy
How did it end up with the Marine ? Been out the rack recently.
June 30th, 2004  
C/2nd Lt Robot
If they do decapitate the Marine there will be hell to pay when they find them. I bet that if their lucky enough their last words will be oh f .