Video surfaces of aid worker’s murder
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Margaret Hassan, an aid worker kidnapped after decades of helping Iraqis, was believed murdered, her family and aid officials said Tuesday after Al-Jazeera television said it received a video showing a hooded militant shooting a blindfolded woman in the head.
Hassan was believed to be the first foreign female hostage killed in Iraq’s wave of kidnappings. More than 170 foreigners have been abducted this year, and at least 34 killed. One woman – a Polish-Iraqi citizen – remains captive. Hassan’s family in London said the longtime director of CARE in Iraq was likely the victim, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said analysis of the video showed Hassan has “probably been murdered, although we cannot conclude this with complete certainty.”
CARE said it was in mourning for the 59-year-old Briton, a veteran humanitarian worker known around the Mideast for her concern for Iraqis – particularly during the years of U.N. sanctions, whose effects on children she vocally denounced.
“To kidnap and kill anyone is inexcusable,” Straw said. “But it is repugnant to commit such a crime against a woman who has spent most of her life working for the good of the people of Iraq.”
In an emotional appeal on Al-Jazeera, Hassan’s Iraqi husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, said he had heard of the video but did not know whether it was authentic.
“I appeal to those who took my wife (to tell me) what they did with her. … I want my wife, dead or alive. If she is dead, please let me know of her whereabouts so I can bury her in peace,” he said, his voice choked with tears.
The video shows a hooded militant firing a pistol into the head of a blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit, said Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout. The station received the tape a few days ago but had not been sure of its authenticity until recently, he said.
Ballout said the station would not air the video and would not broadcast any acts of killing, outside war. Al-Jazeera has been under pressure not to show videos of kidnapped foreigners. Hassan was abducted in Baghdad on Oct. 19 on her way to work, the most prominent of more than 170 foreigners kidnapped in Iraq this year. Her captors issued a series of videos showing her weeping and pleading for Britons to act to save her. In one video, she fainted and a bucket of water was thrown on her to revive her.