Kidnapping: Insurgents’ New Weapon of Choice

Kidnapping has become a weapon that is bringing increasing pressure on countries supporting the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

Any foreigner associated with the United States is a target.

On Monday Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb, the third highest ranking Egyptian diplomat in Iraq who had been abducted outside a mosque last Friday was released “because of the religious faith and moral qualities he possesses,” according a taped message from the Lions of Allah Brigade broadcast on al-Jazeera television.

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had visited Cairo last week reportedly to discuss the option of using Egyptian troops to train Iraq’s forces.

Allawi called on Egypt not to give in to the demands of the kidnappers, but Egypt’s government was nevertheless prompted to announce that it had no plans to send security personnel to Iraq, an announcement that the Lions of Allah Brigade said saved Qutb’s life.

Also on Monday two Jordanian truck drivers were kidnapped and threatened with execution by a group calling itself the Mujahideen Corps. According to a taped message from the kidnappers aired by Associated Press Television Network (APTN), if the Jordanian construction and catering company they work for, Daoud and Partners, does not stop doing business with the U.S. military, the men would be killed in 72 hours.

In a strategy that appears to be bringing success for the resistance in Iraq, these incidents come in a long line of kidnappings.

This year more than 60 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq. While most have been freed, disturbing video tapes have often been aired by their captors that tend to pressure their country against doing business with the U.S. military, or sending troops to Iraq.

The broadcast of a tape showing the abducted Filipino Angelo de la Cruz led to large demonstrations in Manila. These were followed by withdrawal of the small cadre of soldiers the country had dispatched to Iraq.

This was seen again in the reaction in Korea to Kim Sun-il’s video of his desperate plea for his life. Demonstrations pressured the government to reconsider any ties to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

Now countries that even consider sending troops to Iraq face such threats. An Iraqi militant group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq claims it has detained two Pakistanis working for U.S. forces, and says it will kill them because their country is considering sending troops to Iraq.

The two men have been identified as Fayez Saad al-Udwan and Ahmed Salama Hassan in a video obtained by APTN. In the video the two plead with their company to meet the demands of the kidnappers, and Hassan asks Arabs “not to deal with the Americans, and to aid the militants.”

The video contained a warning that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would be held responsible for the death of the men if he sent troops to Iraq.

“The people and government of Pakistan are in deep agony over the kidnapping of innocent Pakistanis,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan said in a statement.

In yet another case a group calling itself The Bearers of the Black Banners said it is holding an Egyptian, three Indians and three Kenyans. It says the detained men all drove trucks for the Kuwaiti company Al-Tamimi which supports the U.S. military in Iraq by transporting supplies.

The East African Standard newspaper said in an editorial that “Kenya has no troops in the Gulf, and Kenya did not take sides in the war that saw the U.S. and its allies invade Iraq.” It went on to question why Kenyan workers were abducted even though their country did not support the war.

The paper says the government should not rule out negotiatiations with the kidnappers. The paper cited the release of Angelo de la Cruz after his government agreed to the demands of the kidnappers by withdrawing its troops.

In similar vein the Kenya Times said, “When these ruthless militants give conditions over the release of their hostages, the public tends to pile pressure on the governments of the hostages.” The paper added: “While we do not endorse the tacticsĂ we feel strongly that the government should enter into dialogue with them. This will be a relief not only to the families but the whole country.”

Graphic videos, such as that of the U.S. businessman Nick Berg’s head being sawed off, have incited political dissent.

The resistance appears to be attempting to shrink the supply of foreign workers and militaries supporting the U.S. occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. With fewer foreign workers and troops, U.S. forces are forced to take on more responsibilities while also fighting insurgents.

(Inter Press Service)

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Author: Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone.