Sun, Jan 22, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Body of abducted Briton finally returned

AFP, LONDON

The body of a British hostage abducted in Iraq in 2007 and killed by Shiite militants has been handed to embassy staff in Baghdad, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement on Friday.

“It is with great sadness that I can confirm that the British Embassy in Baghdad received a body today that has been identified as Alan McMenemy, who was kidnapped in Baghdad in May 2007, along with four other men,” Cameron said.

Alan McMenemy was one of four Britons working as bodyguards for British computer consultant Peter Moore, when all five were abducted by about 40 gunmen of the Asaib Ahel al-Haq (League of the Righteous).

Moore was released unharmed in December 2009, after 946 days in captivity, and the bodies of the three other Britons — Alec MacLachlan, 30, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, and Jason Creswell, 39 — were handed over to British officials earlier in 2009.

“My thoughts are with Alan’s family and friends at this time,” Cameron said in his statement. “They have waited so long for his return and I hope that this will allow them to find some peace after an ordeal that no family should ever have to suffer.”

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman had long said it was believed that McMenemy had been killed.

Alan’s widow Roseleen McMenemy said in a statement released by the Foreign Office: “Our families have suffered terrible uncertainty and distress over the past four years and eight months. We have worried about Alan every single minute of each waking day.”

Beginning in June 2009, hundreds of members of the Shiite militia were freed from US-run prisons in Iraq after the bodies of the other three bodyguards were handed over by the militants.

Suggestions that the militants were released in exchange for the bodies of the three Britons have never been officially confirmed.

The militia chief Qais al-Khazali was freed from a US prison in January 2010, six days after Moore’s release.

At the inquest last year into the deaths of three men whose bodies had already been returned, Moore gave a detailed description of his and his bodyguards’ ordeal including mock executions. He also said they were held, chained and blindfolded for long periods and submitted to regular beatings.

Washington alleges that the League of the Righteous and other Shiite militant groups in Iraq are backed by neighboring Iran.

In July last year, then-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, said Iran had reversed an earlier decision to curtail its support for Shiite factions and was sending weapons to Iraq.

Last month Asaib Ahel al-Haq announced that it wanted to be part of the new political process in Iraq.

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