“Today is November 18. I have been here now 173 days and I feel we’ve been forgotten.”
By Ian Cobain in The Guardian (thanks to all who sent this in):
Shia militiamen who kidnapped five Britons in Iraq six months ago have threatened to kill one of them if British forces do not leave the country within 10 days.
The threat, made in a video broadcast on an Arabic television station yesterday, was condemned by Foreign Office officials who said it would cause great distress to the hostages’ families.
One of the hostages identifies himself by his first name in the video clip and says: “Today is November 18. I have been here now 173 days and I feel we’ve been forgotten.” He is flanked by two masked men brandishing assault rifles and in the background a banner with a sign reading “the Islamic Shi’ite Resistance in Iraq” is visible.
A written statement shown with the clip threatens that if the group’s deadline for the withdrawal of British forces is not met, “this hostage will be killed as a first warning, which would be followed with details that you would not wish to know”.
The statement also accuses Britain of plundering the wealth of Iraq and says that the five had “confessed and detailed the agenda with which they came to steal our wealth under false pretence of being advisers to the finance ministry”. The tape then promised to “follow up with their confessions later”.
An official at al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned satellite channel based in Dubai which first broadcast the clip, said staff had received an anonymous call giving the location where the tape could be found.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We condemn the publication of this video, which serves only to add to the distress of the men’s families and friends.
“Since day one of the kidnap, consular officials have remained in regular contact with the families of the men. No matter what the cause, hostage-taking can never be justified. We again call on those holding the men to release them unconditionally.”
Four of those abducted were security workers for the Montreal-based firm GardaWorld; the fifth was an employee of BearingPoint, a management consulting firm based in Virginia.