Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Kidnapping rattles nerves in Philippines

Death threat prompts country to ban citizens from working in Iraq

July 8, 2004

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— Armed Iraqi insurgents threatened to kill a Filipino hostage if his country does not withdraw from Iraq, according to a video that aired Wednesday. The Philippines responded by barring Filipino workers from traveling to Iraq.

In the video broadcast by Pan-Arab Aljazeera television, three armed and masked men stood behind the seated hostage, threatening to kill him if the Philippines doesn't pull out within three days.

The group claimed to have already killed an Iraqi security guard who was accompanying the Filipino, the newscaster said. The statement gave no details of his capture. A banner on the wall behind the captors identified them as a previously unknown group called the Iraqi Islamic Army-Khaled bin al-Waleed Corps.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's order today applied to contract workers. She did not refer to kidnappers' demands to withdraw Philippines troops.

"She just ordered an immediate stop to the deployment of new workers going to Iraq," Arroyo spokesman Ignacio Bunye told The Associated Press. "And then she is asking for an assessment from our Middle East team."

Fifty-one Philippines soldiers and police are part of the multinational force in Iraq. In addition, about 4,100 Filipinos are working in U.S. military bases in Iraq as cooks, mechanics or in other jobs. The president also offered government help for any workers who wanted to come home.

The Philippines special envoy to the Mideast, Roy Cimatu, said the troops' "tour of duty will end towards the end of the month. We will come up with a recommendation shortly whether we will extend their tour of duty."

The video did not name the hostage.

The footage shows an identity card that an Aljazeera staffer in Qatar later told The Associated Press belonged to the slain Iraqi guard. The card, issued by Al-Ghadeer Security Service, bore the name Hafidh Amer, identified as a security guard. The footage also showed a weapons authorization card with the same name.

This is an image taken from footage by pan-Arab TV channel
Aljazeera purporting to show armed men reading a statement with a
Filipino hostage. The Aljazeera newscaster said the group offered
to release the hostage if the Philippines withdraws its troops from
Iraq within 72 hours.

This is an image taken from footage by pan-Arab TV channel Aljazeera purporting to show armed men reading a statement with a Filipino hostage. The Aljazeera newscaster said the group offered to release the hostage if the Philippines withdraws its troops from Iraq within 72 hours.

Aljazeera's newscaster said the Filipino is an employee of a Saudi company that works for the U.S. military.

In the video, the hostage wore a bright orange garment similar to that worn by the American hostage Nick Berg when he was beheaded by Iraqi militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The group's namesake, Khaled bin al-Waleed, is one of the commanders of the army of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad gave bin al-Waleed the title "Sword of Islam."

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