Four Americans and an Austrian abducted in November in southern Iraq spoke briefly and appeared uninjured in a video believed to have been recorded nearly two weeks ago and delivered Wednesday to The Associated Press.
The men — security contractors for the Crescent Security Group based in Kuwait — appeared separately on the edited video, and three of them said they were being treated well. They were kidnapped Nov. 16 when suspected militiamen in Iraqi police uniforms ambushed a convoy of trucks being escorted by Crescent Security on a highway near the southern border city of Safwan.
“My name is John R. Young,” one captive in a blue and white sweat suit said in the video. “I’m 44 years old. I’m from Kansas City, Missouri. The date is 21 December, 2006. I’m well, my friends are well, we’ve been treated well.”
Another man identified himself as Jon Cote of Buffalo, N.Y. Fidgeting and appearing uncomfortable, he said: “I can’t be released until the prisoners from the American jails and the British jails are released.”
The captives were dressed in civilian clothes, and spoke in a flat, impassive tone. Several had their hands folded in their laps.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said it was aware a second tape of the captives was circulating but declined to comment further.
The kidnappers were not seen or heard in the video, which lasted one minute and 40 seconds and was digitally stamped with the dates Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, 2006. It began with an image of a Quran and a map of Iraq over a green background, changing to a title that read, “The National Islamic Resistance in Iraq. The Furkan Brigades. The captivity operation was done in the Safwan district in Basra.”
Safwan is a Sunni Arab city in a predominantly Shiite area. It was unclear whether the kidnappers were holding the contractors to put political pressure on American-led occupation forces and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, or were seeking a ransom. U.S.-led forces have conducted raids in an effort to rescue the men.
Four of the captives were seen sitting alone and cross-legged on a carpet, with a black sheet hanging behind them. The video only showed the upper body of the fifth man, who identified himself as Paul Johnson Reuben of Buffalo, Minn., which is near Minneapolis. Reuben said the date is Dec. 22, 2006, and that he wanted his family to know he was being treated well.
Another man with a beard and a mustache identified himself as Bert Nussbaumer, an Austrian citizen working for Crescent Security.
Another captive identified himself as Josh Munz, 23, of Redding, Calif.
“I joined the Marine Corps in 2001, and I got out in 2005,” Munz says. “After I got out of the Marine Corps, I went to work in the construction business, building swimming pools. After that, in July of 2006, I started working for Crescent Security out of Kuwait, and I don’t know how long I’ve been here doing this, but today is December 21, 2006.”
Another video of the captives surfaced last week and was reported by McClatchy Newspapers. That video was believed to have been recorded two weeks after the men were kidnapped