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Dead hostage in Iraq ID’d as British contractor

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says a body handed over to officials in Iraq is that of missing security contractor Alec MacLachlan.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A British hostage discovered dead in Iraq was identified as security contractor Alec MacLachlan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Thursday.

Tests on remains handed over to British officials in Iraq on Wednesday had confirmed the 30-year-old MacLachlan's identity, Brown said. MacLachlan was one of five Britons abducted by Shiite militants in a raid on Iraq's Finance Ministry in 2007.

"There is no justification for what they've done," Brown said in a televised statement.

The bodies of two other men were returned to Britain in June, and officials have called on hostage-takers to release a fifth hostage, Peter Moore. British officials believe Moore is still alive.

Brown said in June that it was likely Alan McMenemy, 34, and MacLachlan were dead. No more was known about McMenemy's fate.

2 hostages believed alive
"We are demanding of the hostage takers that they now give us information about the whereabouts of Allen McMenemy and return Peter Moore, who we still believe to be alive, as soon as is possible," Brown said.

The return of MacLachlan's body was the result of negotiations between the Iraqi government and a Shiite militant group believed to have been behind the kidnapping, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

The militant group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, is seeking the release of Shiite militiamen who are in U.S. custody. It also is accused of organizing a daring attack on a local government headquarters in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers on Jan. 20, 2007.

Iraq's government has said it wants Asaib Ahl al-Haq to disarm and play a role in politics once all the hostages have been freed. In one positive sign, the group promised in August to lay down its weapons and join the political process.

MacLachlan was one of four contractors for Canadian security firm GardaWorld protecting Moore, an IT consultant working in Iraq for BearingPoint, a U.S.-based management consulting firm. A videotape showing Moore in reasonable health was delivered to the British Embassy in Baghdad in March.

2 bodied returned in June
The bodies of two other contractors, Jason Swindlehurst, 38 and Jason Creswell, 39, were returned to Britain in June. It is not clear exactly how they died, though both had multiple gunshot wounds.

GardaWorld expressed sympathy for the families of those who died and said it was "deeply concerned" about the remaining hostages.

Dennis McMenemy, the father of Alan McMenemy, said Thursday he was clinging to hope his son is still alive.

"That's the only hope I can have, that I'm still hanging on to," he told Scotland's Radio Clyde. "A great guy. He's a fabulous son, he still is. I love him to bits and miss him terribly. I just want him home."