Saturday, September 18, 2004


The group that seized three Western hostages this week, said to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Tawheed Wal-Jihad (Unification and Holy War), demands the release within 48 hours of all Iraqi women in prisons at Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad, and Umm Qasr, in the south of Iraq. The Associated Press reports that U.S. military deny holding any Iraqi women. Yet, the BBC and the Agence France Presse say otherwise: that the U.S. claims to hold just two Iraqi women. One of them is identified as Rihab Rashid Taha - the woman dubbed Dr Germ for her role in developing Iraqi biological weapons. The other woman is Huda Salih Mahdi Amash, known as Dr Anthrax, who was on the US-led coalition’s list of most wanted officials of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Agence France Press claims that Amash and Taha are detained in Abu Ghraib.

The three hostages - Briton Kenneth Bigley, and his US colleagues Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong - were abducted at dawn on September 16 in Baghdad. Groups claiming to have kidnapped two Italian women on September 7 have made similar demands. Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29, were abducted from the Baghdad office of an Italian aid organisation called A Bridge to Baghdad. Also taken were an Iraqi co-worker, Raad Ali' Abdul-Aziz, and an Iraqi woman, Manhaz Bassam, working for Intersos, another Italian aid agency.

The Ansar el Zawahri group, one of the groups claiming to have taken the Italian women, posted a message on an Islamic website that that "the crusading, Zionist, criminal Italian government must free faithful women Muslim prisoners from all crusading, Zionist, criminal jails on Iraqi territory." (“IRAQ: IRAQI GOVT REJECTS ULTIMATUM,” ANSA English Media Service, September 10, 2004). The other group that claims to hold the Italian women, “Islamic Jihad”, demanded, on the website, the withdrawal of all Italian troops from Iraq, but also made reference to the earlier demand of the release of all female Iraqi prisoners. (“IRAQ: FRATTINI HOPES FOR RESULTS ON ITALIAN HOSTAGES,” ANSA English Media Service, September 14, 2004)

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|| headland, 12:11 PM


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