Terrorists Set To Behead Third Victim

Today the story got even worse regarding the hostages in Iraq that were set to be beheaded. In the past two days, two Americans were killed by their captors, terrorists who answer to mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Their demands were the release of two Iraqi women, former germ weapon workers under Saddam Hussein, from Iraqi custody:

The captive, Kenneth Bigley, appealed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene. "I think this is possibly my last chance," he said. "I don't want to die."

...The group has already beheaded Americans Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, whom it abducted along with Bigley from the Westerners' Baghdad home last week.

On Wednesday, the group also posted a video of Hensley's killing on the Internet, as it had two days earlier of Armstrong's beheading. Hensley's decapitated body was found Wednesday in Baghdad.

The gruesome hostage drama played out as fighting raged on in Iraq, killing three U.S. soldiers and wounding four others.

Suicide attackers struck key diplomatic and commercial centers of the capital, and American tanks and troops searching for weapons stormed into the Sadr City slum, a stronghold of Shiite militants, only to come under a barrage of mortar and automatic weapons fire. The violence across Baghdad left at least 17 Iraqis dead and 100 injured and underscored the inability of U.S. and Iraqi forces to bring security to even the most vital areas of the capital.

U.S. and Iraqi troops battled with insurgents in the central city of Samarra, where U.S. forces had earlier claimed success against militants waging a 17-month insurgency, police said. At least one child was killed and five people wounded in the fighting, police said.

Bigley's situation only got worse, as Iraq first said it would release one of the women prisoners, but then went back on their statement, thanks to the US, who isn't really running their country for them:

Iraq's interim national security adviser, Kasim Daoud, told reporters that three detainees -- including Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha al-Azawi and her husband, the country's former oil minister -- would be released soon because no charges were being brought against them.

Daoud denied their release was linked to the demand by the Unification and Jihad group to release Iraqi women being held prisoner.

..."We do not negotiate with terrorists in any way," Daoud said. "Negotiating with terrorists is giving them the green light to go ahead in their terrorist actions."

Sounds good so far; but don't get too excited:

Daoud's statement about the detainees was contradicted by Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly session.

Allawi told The Associated Press that he has the final say on the release of detainees and he had not made a decision.

Allawi also stressed that his government will not negotiate with terrorists on the release of detainees.

So, Allawi, who was at Bush's side all week, is saying he's not so sure about all of this, but never totally says they won't be released from custody. However, there's a final part to all of this, that guarantees Mr. Bigley's time is short:

In Baghdad, U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Fernandez said two female "high value detainees" -- one of whom is Taha -- are under the legal and physical custody of U.S. troops and their release is not imminent.

...Earlier, a spokesman for the deputy commander for detainee operations in Iraq said Taha's status was still under review.

"Any decision would need to be a joint decision between the multinational forces and the Iraqi government," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson.

Daoud said the multinational forces have no say in the release of the detainees.

A U.S. military official in Baghdad said, however, that the ultimate decision rests with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

A U.S. defense official in Washington and the U.S. military official in Baghdad said Taha's case was being reviewed before the three Westerners were taken hostage last week.

The U.S. military official in Baghdad said a review of 14 of the 85 "high value detainees" held by the United States began in July and those 14 were determined not to be a security threat after extensive interrogations.

One of those cases was that of Taha, the official said.

After the determination by U.S. officials, the cases were passed on to the Iraqi government for review and approval last week, the official said.

After approval from the Iraqi government, the 14 cases were due to go back for further U.S. review up the chain of command, ending with Rumsfeld, the official said.

So, basically the US officials put their foot down and said, "Not so fast, 'soverign nation.'" This only further proves how poorly run this whole situation has been. Certainly, there was little chance of saving this fellow's life, short of running a country where people aren't just kidnapped every other day, but making a joke out of it like this has only drawn the kidnapper's ire.
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