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May 9, 2005

Japanese Hostage Taken By Army of Ansar al-Sunnah

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

It's ironic that this post comes immediately after the previous post entitled "Good News From Iraq 9 May 2005." But unless you've been hiding under a rock or in a cave during the last few weeks that the Iraqis have been bickering over who plays what role in the government, you already know that along with the good news there's also a lot of violence still going on. Yet the two posts together provide some prospective, less we forget that we still have a long row to hoe in Iraq. Now the post:

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed today that they took a Japanese security contractor(possibly a security manager with Hart GMSSCO) hostage after ambushing a convoy of foreigners and Iraqi troops in western Iraq.
  (UPDATE: According to the unconfirmed claim, they attacked the convoy near the town of Hit, 175km west of Baghdad in a mainly Sunni Muslim region - source and map)

The group identified the Japanese hostage as Akihito Saito, 44, and posted a photocopy of his passport, including his picture, on the group's official website, while claiming that Saito was "severely injured" in the fight. Rusty Shakleford at Jawa Report suggests that statement about the battle in western Iraq might be a reference to earlier reports of a successful U.S. attack near the Syrian border. U.S. forces were probably close by since the article states that the group claims US helicopters lifted the bodies from the scene(and that both sides called in reinforcements - if true). The group promised that more photos would be forthcoming.

Saito_akihiko_passport

Image from Jawa Report - originally from Ansar al-Sunnah Army website.

Scotsman:

(...) The group posted other photo ID cards allegedly belonging to Saito, with one identifying him as a security manager of Hart GMSSCO, a British-based firm that provides security in Iraq. Another document seemed to be a weapons permit.

(...) Simon Falkner, chief operating officer of Hart, speaking to The Associated Press from London, confirmed there was an ambush on Sunday night involving Hart personnel, but would not confirm whether Saito was an employee and if he had been seized.

(...) "There were casualties. It was in a remote area ... We are at the moment trying to determine what the situation is," he said, refusing to give further details.

(...) The group claimed it ambushed the convoy near Hit, west of Baghdad, and said a fierce battle erupted between the fighters and those in the convoy. Hit is located about 80 miles down the main road from where US forces today have launched a major offensive against militants near the Syrian border. It was not known if the ambush had any connection to the ambush.

(...) In the gunbattle that erupted after the ambush, both sides called in reinforcements, the Ansar al-Sunnah statement said. When US helicopters arrived at the scene, the fighters captured and immediately killed all those in the convoy, except for one, the Japanese man, it said.

(...) In the gunbattle that erupted after the ambush, both sides called in reinforcements, the Ansar al-Sunnah statement said. When US helicopters arrived at the scene, the fighters captured and immediately killed all those in the convoy, except for one, the Japanese man, it said.

(...) It doesn't explain why the man was spared and claims US helicopters lifted the bodies from the scene. The group said it would provide documents and photos of those killed.

The Army of al-Sunna website apparently has been taken down, but an alternate site is HEREmore images(bottom of post). (thanks to Jawa Report). Jawa Report has

Other Coverage:
inTheBullPen(has a loose translation of Ansar al-Sunnah's announcement), Vlad (with many more links on this and related stories - including images of Al-Zarqawi) , Polish Expert(with numerous interesting links - via Jawa Report), BlogsofWar, Rambling's Journal,

Posted by Hyscience at May 9, 2005 8:32 PM



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