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November 03, 2004

News 11/03/04 - Agency Distressed By Hassan Video

News from the Wire Service re: Ireland & the Irish

BB 11/03/04 Agency Distressed By Kidnap Video


Agency Distressed By Kidnap Video

Care International says its staff are "profoundly distressed"
after a new video of aid worker Margaret Hassan was released by
her kidnappers in Iraq.

Arabic broadcasters Al-Jazeera refused to show it in full on
humanitarian grounds because of her condition.

In it the group says she will be handed to militant Abu Musab al-
Zarqawi if UK troops do not leave Iraq in 48 hours.

Mrs Hassan, who has Irish, British and Iraqi nationality, was
seized by an unknown group in Baghdad on 19 October.

She was on her way to work as director of Care's Iraq operations
- the agency has since halted work in the country.

It is believed the video showed her making an emotional plea,
then losing consciousness.

'Repeated demonstrations'

In a statement, Care said: "In response to the latest video, Mrs
Hassan's colleagues are profoundly distressed by her condition
and urge those holding her to release her without further harm."

It reiterated that Mrs Hassan was an Iraqi citizen who helped the
poor and disadvantaged and said it was "encouraged" by ordinary
Iraqis' demonstrations for her release.

The 59-year-old, who has lived in Iraq for 30 years and is
married to an Iraqi, has appeared in several videos since her

In them she has urged Britain to withdraw troops from Iraq, and
called for women prisoners to be freed.

Your quarrel is not with Margaret Hassan, nor is it with the
Irish people who have been a firm friend of the Arab nation

Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern

BBC correspondent Claire Marshall in Baghdad said: "Everybody who
has seen this [latest] video has said it was absolutely

She added: "It does seem the surge in kidnappings is on the
increase. In the last 48 hours in Baghdad alone we have seen four
foreigners taken from their homes by armed gunmen."

The video has been seen by Mrs Hassan's family and her sisters
met with Irish premier Bertie Ahern on Tuesday.

Mr Ahern made his second appeal to the kidnappers, saying Dublin-
born Mrs Hassan had no political associations and represented
only the vulnerable and the poor.

"Your quarrel is not with Margaret Hassan, nor is it with the
Irish people who have been a firm friend of the Arab nation," he

Afterwards he said the content of the new video was "distressing"
and said there were "a number of very dangerous and very serious
timescales stated".

Jordanian-born Zarqawi has admitted beheading several foreigners,
including Briton Ken Bigley. His Tawid and Jihad group is
believed to number up to 500 militants.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/03 16:20:56 GMT

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