IMAGE: U.S. soldier checks car in Baghdad
Ahmad Al-rubaye  /  AFP - Getty Images
A U.S. soldier searches a car Tuesday at a checkpoint in Baghdad's Karradah district.
NBC News and news services
updated 10/24/2006 11:35:29 PM ET 2006-10-25T03:35:29

After 24 hours of house-to-house searches in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood, the U.S. military still had not found a U.S. soldier who went missing Monday. The military said on Tuesday the soldier was kidnapped by gunmen while visiting a relative's house in Baghdad outside the Green Zone.

Officials said the soldier, a linguist assigned to a reconstruction team, was handcuffed and forced into a vehicle. The soldier, whose name has not been been released, was reported missing on Monday. He was last seen early Monday afternoon at the Green Zone.

U.S. and Iraqi forces threw a security cordon around the central Karradah district on Monday night, and Iraqis seeking to pass through the downtown area on Tuesday were turned away at roadblocks. Army Kiowa OH-58 reconnaissance helicopters were seen repeatedly circling the area in pairs.

U.S. soldiers patrolling Karradah showed photocopies of the man’s photograph to residents in a search for leads.

The missing soldier’s name and other personal details have not been officially released, although American troops who raided Baghdad’s al-Furat TV on Monday said they were looking for an abducted American officer of Iraqi descent who went to join family members in Karradah.

“We have not heard anything,” Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an American spokesman in Baghdad, said Tuesday. “We are sure U.S. forces are doing everything they can in the search.”

New details on soldier
Other details emerged on Tuesday. A senior military official told NBC News that the missing U.S. soldier in Iraq was leaving the Green Zone without permission to visit his wife when he disappeared.

The soldier, a reservist assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as a translator, is an American citizen of Iraqi descent. Both of his parents were born in Iraq and currently live in the United States, the official told NBC.

The soldier's wife, who is either Iraqi or Iraqi-American, moved to Iraq to be closer to her husband. The soldier left the Green Zone midday on Monday, and he and his cousin were allegedly abducted. The cousin was later released, and allegedly went back to the soldier's wife and reported that the abductors were taking her husband to Sadr City.

There have been no ransom requests, but the official said that officials were waiting for the “inevitable video” to surface showing the soldier.

The soldier, described as being in his late 30s, apparently thought that he could move around without being detected by insurgents because of his Iraqi heritage. The official was not certain whether the soldier was wearing civilian clothes at the time of the alleged abduction, or if he was carrying military identification.

Months since last disappearance
The last time U.S. soldiers were reported missing was in June, when two soldiers were abducted during an attack on their checkpoint in Baghdad. The soldiers were later found dead, their bodies brutalized, the military said. One of the soldiers had been beheaded.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had “slaughtered” them, according to a Web statement that could not be authenticated.

Few American soldiers have been kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq, due largely to strict military procedures for those on patrol or at checkpoints.

The U.S. military has strict rules for soldiers operating outside their bases, designed to ensure they are under supervision and also to protect them. All soldiers leaving their bases are supposed to be accompanied by a noncommissioned officer and travel in at least two vehicles.

NBC's Courtney Kube, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to the report.

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