The New York Times
reports that the Iraqi government is planning to release Rihab Rashid Taha soon. The official source denied that the release was related to the demands of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Tawheed Wal-Jihad (Unification and Holy War), the group that has beheaded two Americans, Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, and is threatening to do the same to Briton Kenneth Bigley.
UPDATE (from the Associated Press)U.S.: Iraqi Prisoners Won't Be Released
(Excerpt below) ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq (news - web sites)'s leader and U.S. officials moved quickly Wednesday to squelch the idea a top female germ-warfare scientist for Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) would be freed soon, after a senior Iraqi official said the decision had been made to release her. Iraqi militants who beheaded two Americans have threatened to kill a Briton unless female detainees are let go.
"We have not been negotiating and we will not negotiate with terrorists on the release of hostages. No release takes place unless I authorize it."
Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi
After the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said there would be no immediate release of either of the two women in U.S. custody, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said there were no immediate plans to free the detainees. Allawi's statement disputed an earlier statement by his Justice Department (news - web sites) that a decision was made to release one of them.
Allawi told The Associated Press that his government has begun reviewing the status of its detainees, including the two female scientists known as "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" for their involvement in Saddam Hussein's biological weapons programs.
But he said the review process had nothing to do with the current hostage situation and had started weeks ago in Iraq.
Labels: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad Group, Ayad Allawi, biological weapons, Iraq, Rihab Rashid Taha