This wave of kidnappings is designed, of course, to compel concessions. Judging from recent events in Spain and the mixed reaction to the killing of the Italian hostage, this is not an unreasonable hope. From AP:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – An American soldier missing for a week was shown unhurt but clearly frightened in an Arab television broadcast in which the 20-year-old was surrounded by masked gunmen who offered to exchange him for imprisoned Iraqi fighters and claimed they had more hostages.
There was no sign of what happened to a soldier who disappeared with Pfc. Keith Maupin after their convoy was attacked April 9 outside Baghdad during a wave of kidnappings blamed on anti-U.S. insurgents.
In Fallujah, west of the capital, Iraqis and U.S. officials held their second day of direct negotiations Saturday aimed at stemming violence in the besieged city. About a dozen representatives of the city met with top U.S. and civilian leaders.
“Things were very quiet in Fallujah last night, which means we are succeeding,” said Hashem al-Hasani, a representative of the Iraqi Governing Council who has been mediating between the United States and city representatives.
U.S. commanders moved forces from a key bridge across the Euphrates River that also controls access to the city’s hospital.
“There are a lot of risks that we accept by pulling away from the bridge so it will be a gradual process,” said Col. Tom Toolan, commander of the 1st Marine Regiment.
The footage of Maupin, aired Friday, showed him in a floppy desert hat, sitting on the floor and nervously looking around. Men whose head were covered with keffiyeh scarves stood nearby.
“My name is Keith Matthew Maupin. I am a soldier from the 1st Division,” he said, looking into the camera. “I am married with a 10-month-old son. I came to liberate Iraq, but I did not come willingly because I wanted to stay with my child.” …
In the video of Maupin, one of the gunmen was heard saying: “We are keeping him to be exchanged for some of the prisoners captured by the occupation forces.”
“Some of our groups managed to capture one of the American soldiers, and he is one of many others. He is being treated according to the treatment of prisoners in the Islamic religion and he is in good health,” the gunman said on the tape, a copy of which was dropped off at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar.
“He is being treated according to the treatment of prisoners in the Islamic religion.” Islamic directives for prisoners include this:
When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph considers the interests (…of Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy. (‘Umdat as-Salik, o9.14)
Maupin seems to be held in hopes of exchange for a captive, but if that is rejected, the kidnappers will most likely fall back on one of the other options listed here “” which do include release.