Video shows U.S. hostage pleading for life

/ Source: The Associated Press

An American hostage pleaded for his life with a rifle pointed at his head in a video released Tuesday, while nine Iraqis, including a senior judge, were killed in a series of attacks that highlighted the security risks ahead of this weekend’s elections.

In the video, hostage Roy Hallums spoke slowly, rubbing his hands as he sat with the barrel of the rifle inches from his head. He said he had been arrested by a “resistance group” because “I have worked with American forces.” He appealed to Arab leaders, including Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, to save his life.

Hallums, 56, was seized Nov. 1 along with Filipino Robert Tarongoy during an armed assault on their compound in Baghdad’s Mansour district. The two worked for a Saudi company that does catering for the Iraqi army. The Filipino was not shown.

“I am please asking for help because my life is in danger because it’s been proved I worked for American forces,” the bearded Hallums said. “I’m not asking for any help from President Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those who’ve been pushed into this hellhole.”

Hallums said he was asking for help from “Arab rulers especially President Moammar Gadhafi because he’s known for helping those who are suffering.”

In December, his wife, Susan Hallums of Corona, Calif., said she had not heard from the kidnappers, but she pleaded for his life. She is separated from her husband, who is the father of their two daughters.

Call for more kidnappingsA statement that surfaced Tuesday in the name of the Islamic Army in Iraq called for more kidnappings and attacks before Sunday’s elections.

It came amid fierce clashes in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday that left at least nine Iraqis dead, while ambushes elsewhere claimed several lives, including that of a senior judge who was assassinated in the run-up to this weekend’s elections.

The call, made on a Web site known for its Islamic militant content, could not be authenticated. Militants have used the site to claim responsibility for attacks and to condemn the Iraqi government and U.S.-led forces in Iraq. Less often, they have made such direct appeals for violence.

“Enemies of God such as the Americans and their agents, the hypocrites and the apostates, are attempting to make the infidel elections succeed at the end of the month,” the statement said. To that end, it said, “the headquarters of the Islamic Army in Iraq is giving its orders to all troops affiliated with it everywhere to escalate their operations to the maximum.”

Officials have warned of a surge in violence around the elections, which insurgents have vowed to disrupt.

Ten Americans have been taken hostage, including two who were killed and four others who were either freed or escaped. The status of three soldiers, believed to have been either abducted or killed, was unknown.