Monday, June 20, 2005

Australian cleric: Iraqi soldiers spoiled a peaceful resolution to hostage crisis

After being kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists in Iraq for 47 days, Douglas Wood was freed last week when an Iraqi military patrol happened upon his captors' hideout in Baghdad. The "Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq" had made three videos of Wood, two threatening to kill him if coalition forces did not withdraw immediately, and then a third to prove they hadn't killed him yet.

Mujahedeen hospitality

According to the Iraqis and the Americans, the patrol discovered Wood tied up and hidden under a blanket. Officials also claim that his three captors were arrested--Wood has said in a tape released by the U.S. Defense Department that he heard doors being kicked in and a brief exchange of gunfire before being freed. CNN viewed the tape and reported that Woods appeared genuinely happy about getting rescued:
"The Iraqi forces did a very good job of saving me," Douglas Wood said from his hospital bed.

Flashing a thumbs up, he added, "God bless America."

His upbeat mood was in stark contrast to videos released by his hostage-takers during his captivity, when guns were pointed at his head.

Coalition hospitality

So being held by coalition forces is apparently better than being held by the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen. How surprising.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Taj El Din Al Hilali, the Australian cleric who went to Iraq to negotiate for the hostage's release, claims that the Iraqi forces "spoiled" the peaceful freeing Hilali had planned for just the next day, at 6:00 o'clock on Wednesday, at the Babel Hotel. Babel indeed. I think the way the Iraqi forces handled it was just peaceful enough. Now three hostage-takers are in jail, their weapons are locked up, and no ransom was paid to fund future terrorism. Sheikh Hilali would apparently prefer that Wood spend 48 days in captivity instead of 47, and that his kidnappers and torturers slip quietly away to begin planning their next crime. For his part, Wood says he has no clue who Sheihk Hilali is, despite Hilali's claim that they spoke on the phone.

Wood has expressed a considerably greater measure of appreciation for the soldiers who came in firing, caught the bad guys and saved the innocent. He's even gone so far as to apologize to Bush and to Australian Prime Minister John Howard for what he said on tape with a gun to his head. Now that's unnecessary, but I'm sure the gratitude and support are welcome. Once safely back in Melbourne, he had this to say:

"I'm proof positive that the policies of the American and Australian governments is the right one."


Blogger Fausta said...

And Mr. Wood's head's still on his shoulders, too!

9:57 AM  
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