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

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Owner

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Lettings Manager - Chinese Speaking

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate