news services
updated 8/17/2004 10:17:37 AM ET 2004-08-17T14:17:37

Suspected militants have kidnapped an Iraqi intelligence officer, Al-Jazeera television reported Tuesday, while Lebanese satellite television channel LBC aired a tape it said showed a Lebanese man held hostage in Iraq. At least six people have been abducted in Iraq in recent days.

Meantime, Iraqi police freed a Jordanian bank employee being held in Iraq on Tuesday, officials said.

Militants have waged a campaign of kidnapping aimed at driving out individuals, companies and troops supporting U.S. forces and the new Iraqi interim administration. Scores of hostages have been taken; eleven have been killed.

Iraqi, Lebanese seen in videos
Al-Jazeera showed video Tuesday of a man standing between two masked men. It said they were militants who had identified themselves as “the Brigades of Defense Against Holy Sites.”

There was no audio, but Al-Jazeera reported that the militants said they had kidnapped the man, an Iraqi intelligence officer identified as Osama Abdul Jabbar, in response to the fighting in Najaf.

In a separate case, the tape aired by the Lebanese channel showed a man kneeling and holding an identity card surrounded by men with guns.

LBC identified the man as Mohammad Raad and said militants had threatened to kill him if the company he worked for did not pull out of Iraq in 72 hours.

Jordanian freed
On Tuesday, a Jordanian foreign ministry source confirmed to Reuters that Samer Tamallah Hussein Tamallah, who left for Iraq on a private trip two weeks ago, had been released.

Tamallah told Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera that he had been abducted by gunmen in Baghdad eight days ago and taken to Karbala, 68 miles southwest of Baghdad.

"This morning, I was surprised to find police outside the house where I was being held. They entered the house without any confrontation or opening fire," Tamallah said by telephone.

"Police arrested the kidnappers and brought me to the police station in Karbala. Arrangements are being made now to take me to the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad," he said.

"The kidnappers, Iraqis, wanted money and I don't think they have any political ties," he added.

Two Jordanians were among five Middle Eastern truck drivers held hostage in Iraq and freed earlier this month. The two had been held for two weeks by militants demanding their company stop working with the U.S. military in Iraq.

Armed Iraqis freed four other Jordanian hostages in a raid on their captors' hide-out this month.

Western journalist among hostages
On Monday, four other kidnappings were reported: those of a Western journalist, his Iraqi translator and two Turkish truck drivers.

The journalist, identified as Micah Garen, a dual U.S.-French citizen, and his translator, Amir Doushi, were kidnapped by two armed men in a busy market in the southern city of Nasiriyah, police said. Adnan al-Shoraify, deputy governor of Dhi Qar province, said the incident occurred Friday.

Al-Shoraify said Garen worked for U.S.-based Four Corners Media and was working on a project involving antiquities near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad. Police began investigating the incident after the translator’s family reported him missing, police Capt. Haidar Aboud said.

Capt. Ettore Sarli, a spokesman for the Italian military in Iraq, said Garen had been staying at Camp Mittica, the Italian base, beginning in June. He denied reports that Garen had been sent away, saying he voluntarily handed in his accreditation.

The U.S. State Department was trying to verify the reports, said Tom Casey, a spokesman.

Militants in the southern Iraqi city of Basra kidnapped British journalist James Brandon on Friday. They had threatened to kill the 23-year-old, but released him after aides to militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded he be freed.

Turkish drivers held
In the other new kidnapping, Mustafa Koksal and Durmus Kumdereli were abducted Saturday outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after delivering bottled water to a U.S. base in Baghdad, said Oktay Gorgun, an official with their trucking company.

Gorgun said he received the news of the kidnapping from four other drivers, who had been traveling in Koksal’s and Kumdereli’s convoy when it stopped at the restaurant, where the attack occurred. The four other men escaped capture by hiding, Gorgun said.

“We have not received any news about any demands from the kidnappers,” said Gorgun, who asked that his company not be identified for fear of possible retribution.

Interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer visited Ankara on Monday for meetings at which security for Turkish workers in Iraq was discussed.

In the past two months, militants in Iraq have executed a Turkish worker in Iraq and kidnapped several other truck drivers, prompting some Turkish companies to stop deliveries to the U.S.-led military in Iraq.

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