While Iraqi and US sources yesterday confirmed the release of three Americans who were kidnapped in Iraq in January, the deputy of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defence committee Hamid Al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “known and armed militias that are affiliated with Iran kidnapped the three Americans in Baghdad”. Al-Mutlaq added that “Tehran wanted to use the hostages to influence negotiations taking place between Washington and Tehran but the US government refused to bargain with Iran over the hostages.” He continued by saying “I am sure that the Qataris who were kidnapped in Samawah were kidnapped by the same armed militias”.
An Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) source who wished to remain anonymous told Asharq Al-Awsat in Baghdad yesterday that “the INIS gathered accurate information on the whereabouts of the three US citizens and identified the exact site of detention based on this information”. In response to a question about whether the kidnappers were just an ordinary gang who kidnapped the Americans to obtain a ransom or whether they were armed militias, he said that “they are definitely armed militias” and declined to comment further.
It is notable that the three Americans who were kidnapped last month in Al-Dawrah, southern Baghdad were contracted with US forces to work at Baghdad airport. According to Iraqi security accounts, the three were invited to their interpreter’s home but one of the residents of the building said that they were in a “suspicious” apartment on the second floor.