Archive for Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Egyptian hostage freed; Filipinos complete pullout

July 20, 2004


— An Egyptian truck driver held captive for two weeks by insurgents in Iraq was freed Monday, just hours after the Philippines withdrew the last of its 51 peacekeepers in a bid to save the life of a Filipino man held by a different group.

Insurgents have kidnapped several foreigners working in Iraq in an effort to force out coalition forces and the foreign workers helping them.

Alsayeid Mohammed Alsayeid Algarabawi, whose capture was first reported July 6 in a video showing him surrounded by masked gunmen, was brought Monday to the Egyptian Embassy in Baghdad. He appeared healthy.

Algarabawi's captors, who called themselves the Iraqi Legitimate Resistance, never threatened to harm him but made a series of demands on his Saudi company, including asking for $1 million ransom and insisting it stop doing business in Iraq.

The Al-Jarie Transport Co. refused to pay the ransom but agreed to end its business in Iraq, said Faisal al-Naheet, a subcontractor speaking on behalf of the firm.

As Algarabawi walked free, Philippine officials waited for word on the fate of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. Kidnappers holding dela Cruz demanded the Manila government pull its 51 peacekeepers from Iraq earlier than their scheduled Aug. 20 departure or else they would kill him.

The government complied in phases, with the last soldiers driving into neighboring Kuwait about 5 p.m. Monday.

"We have fulfilled our commitment, and so it's their turn to fulfill their promise. We are waiting," a Philippines official said on condition of anonymity.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.