British hostage Kenneth Bigley
Reuters
British hostage Kenneth Bigley is seen in this image taken from a video released last month, shortly after he was kidnapped.
updated 10/10/2004 4:55:52 PM ET 2004-10-10T20:55:52

A videotape of the beheading of British hostage Kenneth Bigley was posted Sunday on the Internet showing the civil engineer making one last plea for help from his government moments before he was killed.

The nearly five-minute tape of Bigley's beheading appeared two days after his family said it had seen proof the 62-year-old civil engineer from Liverpool was dead. The body has not been found.

The tape showed Bigley, dressed in an orange prison-style jump suit, seated in front of seven armed, hooded men. Behind them was the banner of Tawhid and Jihad, lead by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Bigley made a brief appeal, saying: "I am a simple man who wants to live a simple life." He then addressed British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Here I am again, Mr. Blair," Bigley said, "very, very close to the end of my life. You do not appear to have done anything at all to help me."

One of the hooded men then spoke, saying the kidnappers extended the deadline for Bigley's death to allow time for coalition authorities to meet their demand to release women prisoners.

"Because Britain is not serious in releasing our sisters, there is nothing further for this malicious Briton than the sword," he said.

Suddenly the speaker drew a knife from his belt, while three of the others grabbed Bigley. The men shoved Bigley to the floor and cut of his head, which the killer then lifted for viewers to see.

Escape attempt
A U.S. official said Friday there was credible information that Bigley had tried to escape with the aid of one of his captors.

The attempt failed and Bigley was killed a short time later as was shown on a video of his beheading, the Washington official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. There was no word on the fate of his captor. A Western official in Baghdad refused to talk about the escape attempt report.

The 62-year-old civil engineer was the first British hostage killed in Iraq and the 28th overall. He was kidnapped three weeks ago, along with two American co-workers. They were beheaded earlier, and grisly footage of their killings was posted on the Internet.

Other hostages killed within days
Bigley was seized at his Baghdad home Sept. 16 by the most feared terrorist group in Iraq, Tawhid and Jihad, along with Americans Eugene Armstrong, 52, and Jack Hensley, 48. The Americans were beheaded days later.

Abu Dhabi TV refused to broadcast a videotape of Bigley's killing, saying it refused “to serve as a mouthpiece for such groups or their actions.”

U.S. and British officials in Iraq declined to confirm Bigley’s death, saying his body had not been found. However, Bigley’s brother, Phil, said the family had received “absolute proof” of his death.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Friday that his government had made contact with the kidnappers through an intermediary, but could not persuade them to drop their demands, even though there are no women in British custody in Iraq.

Brother blames Blair
Meanwhile, one of Bigley’s brothers blamed Blair, saying Friday the prime minister has “blood on his hands.”

In a message to organizers of a Stop the War Coalition rally in Liverpool on Friday evening, his older brother Paul said: “Please, please stop this war and prevent other lives being lost. It is illegal and has to stop.”

That stern message contrasted with a statement read on British television by another brother, Phil Bigley. He said the “family believed the government had done all it could “to secure the release of Ken.”

“The horror of these final days will haunt us forever,” he said. “Our only consolation is that Ken is now at peace, away from those who are capable of such atrocities.”

The Bigley kidnapping and his heart-wrenching appeals to Blair reinvigorated the anti-war movement in Britain just as the Americans were acknowledging that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction no longer existed by the time the war began in March 2003.

Bigley worked for a United Arab Emirates company that provides services for the U.S. military. It was not known when he was beheaded.

More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq, some for ransom and others as leverage against the United States and its allies. Many Iraqis have also been seized, in most cases for money.

Attacks on foreigners, including gruesome beheadings, have crippled reconstruction by discouraging investment and frightening off international engineers, technicians and others.

Turkish hostages reported freed
An Arab TV station said Sunday it received a statement from Iraqi militants saying they had freed 10 Turkish hostages.

An anchor on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV, citing “special sources,” said the 10 workers for Turkish construction company VISNAN have been freed.

An Al-Jazeera editor who requested anonymity told The Associated Press the report was based on a statement from the purported kidnappers. The claim could not immediately be verified.

Al-Jazeera broadcast a video Sept. 18 attributed to the Salafist Brigades of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq showing the 10 Turkish hostages in captivity.

The Turkish company said three days later it was freezing operations in hopes of saving the workers.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad had no information of any hostages being released.

The Ankara-based VINSAN company also could not confirm the release. An employee said on condition of anonymity that efforts to secure the hostages’ release were continuing “positively.” He did not elaborate.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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