The U.S. Embassy for the first time on Friday confirmed the name of an American kidnapped six weeks ago in a deadly attack in the Iraqi capital as his family pleaded for his release.
Roy Hallums, a worker for a Saudi company that does catering for the Iraqi army, was seized Nov. 1 along with two other foreigners and three Iraqis after a gunbattle in the upscale Mansour neighborhood. An Iraqi guard and one attacker were killed.
Hallums’ wife, Susan, of Corona, Calif., said in a telephone interview Friday that she has not heard from the kidnappers. She is separated from her husband, the father of her two daughters.
Wife pleads for release
“I want to plead for his life and send out prayers and hope that he will be released,” Susan Hallums said. “There has been no proof of life since he was taken.”
U.S. Embassy spokesman Bob Callahan said American authorities are working on the assumption that Hallums and man seized at the same time, Filipino accountant Robert Tarongoy, are alive. He urged that they be set free.
“As far as we know, Hallums is still being held captive along with the Filipino and we have no reason to believe otherwise,” Callahan said. “We are operating on the assumption that Hallums is still alive.”
Callahan said Hallums is believed to be an engineer who worked in Saudi Arabia for some time before coming to Iraq.
Hallums, Tarongoy, Nepalese worker Inus Dewari and three Iraqis employed by the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Co. were taken away after the gunfight. The Iraqi hostages and the Nepalese were freed later.
Kidnappers sought huge ransom
Philippine officials said Nov. 9 that the kidnappers had demanded the release of Abu Ghraib prisoners and a huge ransom in exchange for the freedom of the remaining two hostages –Hallums and Tarongoy.
Late last month, Philippines Foreign Secretary Rafael Seguis said: “We are still in touch with the intermediaries of the group, who up to now have not identified themselves. ... I have been instructed to double our efforts.”
Twelve Americans have been kidnapped or are missing in Iraq. At least three Americans have been killed — all beheaded in abductions claimed by an al-Qaida-linked group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
More than 170 foreigners have been abducted this year by militants with political demands or by criminals seeking ransom; more than 30 captives have been killed.