Body of murdered hostage begins journey home

Five years after Glasgow man's death in Iraq, his family can finally start their grieving

When the body of the last British security guard kidnapped and murdered in Iraq five years ago is returned home this week, it will finally bring to a close one of the UK's worst hostage crises for almost two decades.

The remains of Alan McMenemy were passed to British authorities in Baghdad this weekend. Mr McMenemy, who was 34, and who came from Glasgow, was kidnapped in the Iraqi capital along with four other Britons by a Shia militia group in 2007. Only one made it out alive; the rest were shot in an escape attempt.

His widow, Rosaleen, said this weekend that she and the rest of the family could finally grieve for her husband and draw "some comfort" from the fact that his body was "home at last".

Mr McMenemy's family had to wait two years – longer than any of the other hostage families – for the body of the father of two to be repatriated. This weekend it was passed to the British embassy in Baghdad.

The remains of Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec MacLachlan were returned to Britain in June 2009.

The only survivor of the group was IT worker Peter Moore, whom the four men were hired to protect. He was released six months later, in December 2009.

According to Mr Moore, all the men were routinely subjected to mock executions while held captive. He said he was beaten on a near-daily basis and that he was once savagely beaten for allegedly breaking a lock.

Mr Moore was training Ministry of Finance workers how to spot misspent money, in a government building in the green zone of Baghdad, in 2007. It was claimed that the payroll census would have revealed how many Iraqis were claiming rogue salaries for jobs they didn't do. The scam was said to be likely to run into tens of millions of pounds.

But, one morning, between 50 and 100 policemen stormed the building where Mr McMenemy and the other guards were protecting Mr Moore.

The men initially believed that they were being arrested, but when police began removing the men's clothes during the ride to Sadr City, where they were to be initially detained, in the north-eastern quarter of the capital, their worst fears were confirmed.

Far from being the police, the kidnappers belonged to the notorious Shia militia group Asaib al-Haq – the League of Righteousness. The group claimed that it had kidnapped the men for political reasons, rather than financial gain.

Mr Moore, who spent six months locked up in a room with Mr McMenemy, spoke this weekend of his time with his fellow captive.

"We were basically chained together with about two metres of chain in a room," said Mr Moore. "We were handcuffed and regularly blindfolded. We talked about a lot of things. We talked about the possibility of escape, but the opportunity just never arose when I was with Alan."

Mr McMenemy was a former soldier who had joined the private- security firm GardaWorld. He knew he faced a high risk of being kidnapped, but, given ransom insurance, he was lured by the high pay and the excitement of being in a war zone.

Along with the three other guards, he was killed in 2009 when they attempted to make an escape. The head of the Shia militia, Qais al-Khazali, said the men had taken a weapon from one of the guards in order to try to overpower their captors. A gun fight ensued, in which the four men were shot dead.

Mr Moore was being held in a separate location at the time, possibly Basra in southern Iraq. It is said he was being kept in a different place because the kidnappers believed he was of more value to them. He was finally released at Christmas in 2009, after spending 946 days as a hostage.

Discussions between the British government and Shia forces had been going on for many months to secure the repatriation of Mr McMenemy's remains. It is not yet clear why the militia waited more than two years to hand over the body.

In a statement this weekend, Rosaleen McMenemy said: "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. We now know that we will shortly have Alan home again. This will allow us to properly grieve for him and we will draw some comfort from the fact that we have him home at last.

"I would respectfully ask that we as a family are allowed the space and time to grieve in our own way and, if at all possible, to attempt to return to some form of normal life."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?