NEW YORK — A U.S. Army translator missing after being kidnapped in Iraq had broken military rules to marry an Iraqi woman and was visiting her when he was abducted, according to people who claim to be relatives of the wife.
According to a report in Monday editions of The New York Times, the relatives said that the soldier, previously unidentified by the U.S. government, is Ahmed Qusai al-Taei, a 41-year-old Iraqi-American. The family did not know he was a soldier until after the kidnapping, the relatives said.
Taei married a 26-year-old college student, Israa Abdul-Satar, three months ago, the family said. They showed visitors photographs of the couple’s wedding and honeymoon, the newspaper reported.
The relatives said members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia came to the wife’s home on Oct. 23 and dragged Taei into their car.
“They were saying, ‘He’s an American journalist,”’ said a woman who claimed she was the soldier’s mother-in-law and asked that she be identified only by her nickname, Um Omar, because of fear of reprisals. “We were saying, ‘No, he’s an Iraqi.”’
Frantic scene described
Ahmed Abdul-Satar, who said he was the soldier’s brother-in-law, recounted a frantic scene from the kidnapping, with the women of the family screaming and begging the gunmen not to take Taei.
The military’s fraternization policies prohibit active duty personnel from marrying local civilians, military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle told the newspaper. Privacy rules prevented her from giving any details about the missing soldier, she said.
Um Omar said the interpreter had spoken with the family about arranging the marriage after observing the younger woman as she was on her way to class. After some discussion, her daughter agreed to the pairing, Um Omar said.
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